Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lucid Memories, Chapter One: Lucky

Way back in May or so of last year I offered to open RoD up to anyone who wanted to post a memoir about their time in SY. Lucid bravely raised his hand, and then life intervened and I was away from here for some months. Well, Lucid has graciously reached out again, and I'm happy to post the first installment. See you all in the comments section! SeekHer

Chapter One: Lucky

Six months have passed since my breakup with Jack but I’m still soaking in a toxic residue I can’t wash away. Inside I’m damaged, in a place I can’t reach to repair. One night I break down and confess to roommate Melissa, “For as long as I can remember I’ve felt somehow protected. Like someone was watching over me. Like an invisible cord connected me to some sustaining force that kept me safe – and now that cord has been cut.”

What I can’t admit is how ashamed I feel, how afraid I am that through my relationship with Jack I’ve cut that cord myself. What I dare not tell her is that through my recklessness I fear I’ve committed the worst crime imaginable: I’ve severed my connection to God.

If I don’t say it, maybe it won’t be true.

The only thing I have to hold onto, which at this point it doesn’t feel like much, is that my intuition turned out to be right. Throughout my relationship with Jack nothing I could point to in terms of what I saw in his behavior ever gave him away, but I learned at the explosive end he’d deceived me – numerous times, in multiple ways. Jack’s skill at deception, I discovered, neared genius.

Each time I ate my humiliation, each time I mustered the nerve to push past my insecurity, carefully express a doubt or try to directly confront him – often right after we’d ravaged each other in bed – he’d pull me close, press his chest to mine and search into my eyes with a look that made me feel like there was no on earth more whose heart he considered more important.

“I don’t know how you think I could be here right now like this with you,” he’d say, his voice low and consoling, “If I had just been with someone else. What kind of monster would I be to be able to do something like that?”

I’d fallen for Jack and fallen hard. I had no visible, tangible proof he wasn’t being honest with me. I also didn’t want to believe what I’d fallen for was a lie. I stayed with Jack because I trusted what I could see and what he said over the sinking feeling that continued its relentless gnawing at my core. I stayed, but the volume kept rising on the voice inside me screaming RUN.

As it turned out, that voice that gnashed at my insides during those final tumultuous months was the one I should have listened to. Instead of listening to that voice, I listened to Jack’s.

So. Lesson learned.

I’m listening to my intuition now, but I’m dead inside. In fact, I might literally be dying. 

Jack and I were never safe. I was so swept away by my attraction to him that I broke that promise to myself. Now I have no reason to believe he was ever safe with any of the other dozen or more people he fucked around with when we were together. Last October, right after our breakup, the counselor at the clinic told me it was too soon to be tested. If I wanted to be certain the results of my HIV test were accurate, she said, I had to wait. I had to come back and be tested in six months. She said that’s how long the virus could hide in my blood, undetected.

I’ve spent the days, weeks and months since receiving my stay of execution in a state of emotional solitary confinement. I haven’t said a word to anyone. Five weeks left. In five weeks I'll need to go back to the clinic. When I think about it my breathing stops. It’s March of 1993; I’m 24 years old.

The previous January, shortly after I learned Gurumayi would be returning to the bay area for a month of spring programs, I was laid off from my job. Bad news, financially, the flip side of which clears my schedule and frees me to plan on attending every talk she delivers – something a commitment to a full time job wouldn’t have allowed.

When April and the first Sunday of daylight savings time arrives, I hop on BART alone and make my way to The Paramount Theatre in Oakland for the “Welcome Gurumayi” program. As the train hums through the tunnel beneath the bay, my mind churns a series of questions: What will it be like to see her after all this time? Will any of this still mean anything to me? Will I realize the experiences I had four years ago when I first met Gurumayi – and all the synchronicities  that followed – had just been imagined, all in my head?


Back in June of 1989, as my mother ushered Melissa and I through the propped doors of the bustling Oakland Ashram, she clutched my hand and whispered a last-minute request: “Just keep an open mind.” 

As we stepped inside, something I wasn’t expecting or even looking for shifted – energetically. My awareness of that shift stopped me just long enough to notice it before the three of us were swallowed inside the excitement of the mobbed ashram lobby.

That night during Gurumayi’s talk, she explained in intricate detail the meaning and purpose of her lineage’s mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya.” She told us the mantra was our Immortal Companion. “The mantra gives you everything,” she said. Gurumayi peppered her talk with several amusing anecdotes and even a full blown shaggy dog story, often laughing harder than anyone else at her own jokes. Her laughter was infectious and spread in giddy ripples through the crowd.

A lot of what Gurumayi said that night went right over my head, but the sound of her voice kept me engaged. Something about her voice reassured me. It felt almost like a balm. 

At the conclusion of her talk, Gurumayi gently pressed her hands together in prayer and bowed her head toward us. The hall went dark and she led us in a long, haunting version of the mantra. As she sang her voice was high, unusual, and sad.

After the meditation session that followed, my mother introduced Melissa and me to Gurumayi during darshan – the ceremony, mom had explained earlier, where people “bow down to Gurumayi as a way of symbolically bowing down to their own inner divinity.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant but it sounded lovely. 

I don’t remember kneeling before Gurumayi that night, or the brush of blessings from her peacock feather wand, but I do remember what she said as she leaned in and locked her eyes with mine: “Your mother has been working very hard.” Her voice was commanding, resonant, masculine in its power. Her words were pointed, certain – as if this was her personal message to me, something she’d been planning to say all along. It was as if she’d been patiently waiting for the day when I would finally come kneel before her and she’d tell me: “Your mother has been working very hard.” Her message felt that important.

Within those seven words, Gurumayi captured in a single astute statement an essential fact about my mother that was true that night, true about the years preceding that night, and remained true. I took Gurumayi’s statement as a gentle but still knowing scold – a reminder I must never take my mother’s role in my life, or anything she’d ever done to make things easier for me, for granted. 

Just beneath the surface of Gurumayi’s statement, a second layer implied my mother had also been doing her own deep spiritual work in that she had been “working very hard” on herself.

Again: was true, had been true, remained true.

Later, when I shared my first darhsan experience with Janice – our fast-track family friend who upon being introduced to Siddha Yoga by my mom in the early 80s promptly moved into the South Fallsburg ashram and soon became one of Gurumayi’s personal assistants – she further affirmed the message I’d received me by adding: “You may not know this, but Gurumayi gave your mother the spiritual name 'Janabai' – and Janabai’s whole life was a life of service. In fact, Janabai worked so hard she had no time for her own devotional practices. In the story of her life it is said that the Lord was so moved by her selflessness he came and sat beside her while she worked – the Lord came to her.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make from this additional insight from Janice; but it did add another layer of significance to Gurumayi’s message.

That night after darshan, as we collected our shoes from the lobby, I saw a woman standing in front of a TV monitor propped on a rolling cart, watching a remote video feed of the ceremony still going on inside. She swayed back and forth, hands clasped over her heart, her eyes swimming in tears. Despite the commotion and post-program buzz swirling around her, she was oblivious to anything going on outside of what she saw on that TV screen. I stood a few feet away and gawked. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could be so moved by something they were viewing over a remote monitor.

Two nights later I returned with my mom to the Oakland Ashram for another evening program – at the last minute Melissa said she wasn’t feeling well and told us she thought it would be better if she stayed behind.

That evening we began chanting before Gurumayi arrived – “Jay Jay Vitthala, Jaya Hare Vitthala.”

The melody the musicians played during the intro to the chant had a haunting, almost funereal quality that drew me right in. As the rhythm of the chant gradually built in intensity, the lights dimmed and Gurumayi emerged in silence from behind a thick velvet curtain. The moment I saw her shadowy blue silhouette I began to weep. I didn’t know what triggered the sudden wave of emotion, but before long I was sobbing and couldn’t stop. I wanted to leave, I wanted to run from the hall and escape to someplace private. But packed so tightly alongside all the other chanters there was no unobtrusive escape. And, since this was my “first time meeting Gurumayi,” the hall monitor had seated me just a few rows from her chair – I felt there was no respectful way to exit. My only consolation was the fact that the chant was dominated by amplified tablas that helped drown out my bawling.

I cried forever. It was as if the floodgates holding back every last drop of regret, grief or pain I’d been unconsciously storing away inside over the years, maybe over lifetimes, finally burst. My eyes burned. My jaw went numb. As the tingling shot down my neck and into my shoulders, I remembered the first dream I’d had about Gurumayi, just a month earlier, in which she held my face in her hands and kissed my forehead – I remembered that my jaw went numb in my dream too.

Doing my best to avoid elbowing my neighbors, I dislodged myself from my jacket and used its sleeves in lieu of the Kleenex I didn’t think to stash in my pockets beforehand. I hadn't sobbed like that since I was a child. Maybe ever. By the end of the chant my jacket was a soaked, snotty ball. Physically, I felt like a wrung washcloth; my insides were pulp.

I don’t remember what Gurumayi spoke about that night; I don’t remember darshan, either. But I do remember what happened as I walked into the dining hall with my mom afterward: The chattering crowds in the Amrit engulfed us just as they had after the previous night’s program, but this time everything was different. As I looked around everyone appeared to be moving underwater, their gestures liquid, their voices muffled into a low, dull hum. Amidst all the commotion I felt anchored, calm, completely still, the chaos around me reduced to a swarm of softly buzzing atoms.

I stood there a moment, dumbstruck.

Noticing the shift in my expression my mom leaned in, took my hand and asked, “Are you okay?” 

“Everything is so different,” I said. She gripped my hand tightly and smiled, “I know.”

I had gone through the looking glass . . .

That was 1989. I had just moved to San Francisco. The experience of meeting Gurumayi just as I was embarking on a new life in a new city seemed to catapult me into the series of fortunate events – the job offer that followed my first interview, the groovy apartment Melissa and I landed near the Haight, the name of the new suitor on my dance card making my heart race. I was on a high I rode the entire summer.

But that was four years ago. Back then I used to wake up each beautiful morning with the beautiful feeling everything was going my way.

What will it be like to see Gurumayi now?


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lucid. The shaktipat experience with the guru was reminiscent. That power coming from us we attributed to her.

Was thinking of the Inaugeration this morning and my heart swelled, tears flowed. Where does this come from? No, not guru's grace. They come from me.

With some help from David Bowie....
"This is not America"

Anonymous said...

Typos...Inauguration. This is a happy heavy day. Peace peeps.

Anonymous said...

thanks for putting this up here! I was struck by your state of mind when you first encountered gurumayi. I wonder how many of us met her when we were in a state of deep desperation? It would be interesting to know that.
Hope you will continue.


Anonymous said...

Met the guru when I was vulnerable. Had been so resistant for a long time due another weird yoga group. Had a powerful shaktipat experience and quirky face to face intro. Lucid's experience reminded me of a later intensive where I experienced everyone's interior motives from body language and vibrations.

Anonymous said...

Same here, met the guru at the end of a very bad marriage, seriously unhappy.


Anonymous said... too..met the guru when my life was falling apart..had just had a big show that was going to finally "do it" for me as a painter..the right gallery, the right critic writing the catalog, the huge opening...everything I had dreamed of leading to the charmed life I had been promised. Turned out to be the tree falling in the forest and nobody there to hear it...what to do now?? and there I was in the back seat of a sports car driving up to meet "the guru". Why not just change identities? smile.
it all worked out in the end, i guess...but, looking back, it seems pretty obvious. In retrospect, getting your primary identity smashed up can be a very helpful thing...but painful.


Anonymous said...

Yes, and then getting that secondary identity smashed as well--there's a doorway there, for sure. With every smashed identity, the existence of a doorway gets a little clearer.


SeekHer said...

So many of Lucid's remembered moments resonate with me, e.g. Seeing the shoe room sevite swaying in devotion watching darshan on closed circuit tv--I can remember when something like that seemed very odd to me, as well as the many years during which I swayed along. What happened in between was the complementary opposite to what we've all been engaged in here. It was the process of enchantment. A big flashy shaktipat experience (for many of us) followed by the sweeping embrace of old time devotees hailing you as a newcomer (oh, that one is fully cooked!) the exhortations to enjoy the honeymoon period because the after that the burning of your ego would begin. And then, of course, the fight to hang onto "beginner's mind." Looking forward to reading more of Lucid's story as it progresses.

Maybe the last stage in disenchantment is being able to relive your enchantment without falling back in love.

Anonymous said...

Very good post! We are linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.

SeekHer said...

Thanks Anon 10:10!

If you didn't sound so much like an online robot spewing come-on spam to determine whether or not it was safe to colonize this blog I'm sure we'd all be much more interested in anything else you had to sell, er, say.

Anonymous said...


Any way to block the "colonizers" trying to sell us stuff?

Anon Jan 20 6:18am and 9:12 am:

I'd like to pass on a few thoughts.

First, there is actually one regular participant on this blog who met Baba first. The difference between shaktipat experience in his era versus GM's era was that he actually walked around in intensives and physically gave the shaktipat touch. It was palpably and unmistakeably directly FROM HIM. (Up until the middle to late-ish 1980's she did this too...but along the way it was clear to me that she lost the "power", since at one intensive I literally felt nothing from her hands anymore).

Second, can I ask folks to please leave politics out of this blog? Not everyone here is of the same politica mindset, and rather than have this blog devolve into the bitter rancor that is American politics today and can be found so readily elsewhere, can we stick to the disenchantment focus? Being a recovering "Siddhayogi" does not automatically equate to being an Obama supporter. (Frankly some of the adulation the current U.S. president is getting, and the power being wielded, is starting to remind me of a personality cult as well.) Just because it was a happy day for you, doesn't mean it was one for everybody.

Third, not everyone participating on this blog is American. Folks from other countries participate here too. They may not share the same sentiment about the inauguration you do.

Anonymous said...

@3:35 stop trying to control the content here. No one is pushing politics. YOU brought it up. I met Baba too. Lots of people here met Baba.

6:18 AM said...

3:35 I wrote about the Inauguration in context of feelings being stirred, not by Guru shakti, but by other things. In this case, you could call it patriotism or love of country. It isn't that love for the ongoing American experiment that was my subject, but rather how emotions can be stirred by pomp and music. Like in Siddha Yoga where we had tons. BTW I heard Baba talk about politics and the American character. He was insightful and funny on the topic. Gurumayi also. Still doesn't redeem them from the bad they did and continue to do by living a lie.

Kind of like Lance Armstrong situation. Yes he created Livestrong but only as a cover. Like Siddha Yoga's charity work.

Is the juicer Lance off topic? I don't think so. Peace 3:35

6:18 AM said...

"Maybe the last stage in disenchantment is being able to relive your enchantment without falling back in love."

Posted by SeekHer January 21, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Any positive feelings are challenging for me at this stage unless couched in a distancing snark. Even though I experienced so many highs there, the price was not known in advance. The real cost. $500 for an intensive? That's nothing compated to what they were aiming for.


Lucid as your narrative prgresses it is stimulating dormant areas.
Especially for me is the family connection. Bringing family in is a typical pyramid way of gaining new customers. We didn't see it as that. It was 'share the love'.

Being a parent, bringig a child to it. That weighs heavy on me. I think about your mom.

Anonymous said...

Re: meeting the guru at the peak of desperation . . .

I wrote the first draft of "Chapter One" in 2008 – after discovering RoD and Marta’s TGLG blog – just to see if I could do it.

At this point it's a five-year-old piece of writing about a two-decades-old experience. Seeing it this week up on the big screen at RoD – and Thank you, SeekHer, for giving it both a home and an audience – what strikes me today is no longer the difference between where I was in the “enchantment-and-disenchantment” process, 1993 vs. 2008, but rather the difference between where I am in the process, 2008 vs. today.

The above realization made this comment of yours, SeekHer, especially apropos:

“Maybe the last stage in disenchantment is being able to relive your enchantment without falling back in love.”

Once again, SeekHer, you took the thoughts right outta my head and phrased them a way I would never have thought of.

You'll humor me for a moment, folks, as I share that looking back at my story posted here I suddenly saw it in this context: I was Oliver Twist; Gurumayi was the Artful Dodger; SYDA was Fagin and the lost boys. (And okay, okay, if we must include him, then I suppose George Afif can be Bill Sykes.)

NOT comparing my writing to Dickens. (As if!) Just reminded that the story of the vulnerable, naive and desperate falling prey to the cunning and corrupt is, sadly, old old old.

In the movie musical version of Oliver!, the Artful Dodger swoops in on Oliver -- poor, hungry, orphaned by the world -- and, with considerable charisma and aplomb, lures him away from his miserable plight. Oliver believes he's at last found the sense of worth, belonging and acceptance he craves, the someone who wants him he sang about a song earlier in "Where is Love?" Dodger beckons Oliver to, "Consider yourself, at home; Consider yourself, one of the family..." and Oliver believes that in Dodger he's found both.

But the Dodger is only successful at being so artful because Oliver is destitute -- on all levels. Dodger shows up just when Oliver thinks he needs him most; but in reality Dodger shows up when Oliver has nothing left to loose, or live for. And anything is better than nothing.

Hey, remember that other line we were fed as newcomers that made Gurumayi's arrival in our lives seem so meant to be? -- "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

But it takes two to tango, yes? You can’t sell something unless you’ve got customers. Charlatans aren’t charlatans without easy targets.

Too bad SY didn't come with a warning label. Like drinking and driving, one should never jump onto a spiritual path in the throws of despair! But that's the classic scenario, right? How many of us thought at the time that by "stepping onto the SY path" we were making a dramatic break from our past behavior, that we were leaving our past behind. Again, this story is old old old.

I've never seen myself as a victim in either my personal or the greater SY saga but I was absolutely a target -- for them, for "Jack," for all the other bullies that preceded them. I take responsibility for that. I get it.

Thank you, all. Having read and posted here for five years, it means a lot to me to be sharing this story with you. At this point, you are the people it means the most to share it with.


Anonymous said...

>>""Maybe the last stage in disenchantment is being able to relive your enchantment without falling back in love."

to me, this would imply a nostalgia that I don't feel. I'm interested in the syda years as a mirror but not so much a lovely experience I'd like to revisit.
It has been helpful for me to see how and why I got hooked into syda. It helped me to become aware of "tendencies" I was pretty blind to in myself. In that respect, it was beneficial but, of course, all of that happened after leaving.It's ironic that becoming aware of egoic tendencies is what a path is supposed to help you with. It's not supposed to create MORE egoic tendencies...more deeply rooted and harder to get rid of but it seems to be pretty common.


Anonymous said...


It is very helpful to have you and SeekHer and others sharing your process of discovery.

Your story and comments reminds me of a book I am working with. "The Writer's Journey" using Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey,which describes patterns that appear in storytelling, myth, religious ritual and psychological development.

I am finding it not self aggrandizing, but motivating and especially helpful in perceiving the part other's play in my life in a less stressful way, making it easier for me to accept obstacles, lack of cooperation, neglect and down right meanness.

Getting in control of the narrative seems to be a big part of a lot of things from Muktananda's "Play of Consciousness" to Lance Armstrong's Oprah interview. It's all about the story we tell ourselves and the world.

Here's a link to an outline and link to the book I am using.

Hero's Journey outline

Writer's Journey, Mythic Structure

Anonymous said...

Hi OS. Interesting, I hadn’t seen SH’s comment from the “nostalgia” angle at all – until you pointed it out. Maybe because nostalgia for SY isn’t something I’ve felt, or will ever feel. I think of "nostalgia" as a sentimental longing for a time and place that's past, and a happy one. Your comment made me realize that for me SY wasn’t that kind of experience. There’s no honeymoon to remember.

Even at the peak of my involvement, I always knew in my core something wasn’t right, there was always some level of fear involved. That core feeling of dread -- however small or large it happened to be at any given moment, and it alternately shrank and grew over time, depending -- was always there. Deep down I think I knew from the beginning that at some point I'd have to address it. It took a long time to listen to that voice, a long time to sort out what was what, but I believe now that some part of me knew eventually I'd have to face the music. But I put that day off as long as I possibly could; and so did SY.

Like a battered wife about whose marriage others ask, “Why does she stay?” the answers to why I became involved with SY/stayed were complicated and had to do with years of cumulative events that occurred prior to to meeting GM. In my case the battery was largely internal, something I'd been doing reflexively by the time I lined up for my first darshan. SY just provided me with a new way to do what I’d what I’d always been doing – it also provided me with everything I needed to delude myself into thinking I wasn't repeating a pattern. I took what SY had to offer and ran with it.

The multiple highs SY provided kept me preoccupied and kept that core, instinctive voice -- the one urging me to run from the hall during my first "shaktipat" experience -- muzzled. I wanted the high more than the truth. I thought the high was better. All those dazzling lights kept my inner compass spinning and distracted me away from my the one and only thing that has never let me down, my intuition.

The good news is that in the end, SY was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. With a healthy distance of years between then and now, I can look back and say almost matter-of-factly that leaving SY marked the permanent break in the pattern.

Call it ironic or call it cliché and pardon the expression but the fact is I came out the other end of my SY experience knowing the value of what it means to honor my own self.

I don't know why I had to learn that lesson the way I did, but the why no longer matters.

My life before SY? Dramatic. (Some would say mellow-dramatic!) My life during SY? Definitely dramatic. My life since leaving? Stable, and by comparison with the prior stages, fairly ordinary. Given a choice between those three bowls of porridge, I’ll take the latter any day. It feels just right. "Please sir, I want some more!" ;)

SO. What struck me about SeekHer's comment is how well it articulates what I felt when I saw “Chapter One” posted here last Saturday: The charge is gone. The feeling I had when I saw my story here is proof. If there was at one point something to feel nostalgic over, I no longer remember it. SeekHer's comment pointed the absence of those feelings out to me. It's an absence I hadn't expected, but one I welcome. Your comment, OS, did that too.

Thank you both.


Anonymous said...

To Anon at 7:16 AM:

Joseph Campbell. Now there's a name I've not heard in at least a decade. I remember being so charmed by him as I watched the series of interviews he did with Bill Moyers. Just looked him up and saw that he died in 1987 at age 83, seven months before the PBS series aired. I didn't see the series until five years after it premiered, just my "enchantment" with SY was peaking. Back then, those interviews served as a kind of "real-world" validation -- without all the bells and whistles -- of what I thought I was learning in SY. I think I thought of those interviews as legitimate evidence that SY wasn't a sham. I looked for evidence like that a lot. Again, prompted by but not really listening to that core voice. Had I been more mature what I would have really looked for, instead of merely collateral that preached to my choir, was an answer to the real underlying question: "Why is there a persistent voice inside continually pestering me to find proof that SY is real?"

That was another lesson learned from the SY experience: Sometimes you can't wait for "proof" before acting on how you feel. It takes such tremendous trust in yourself, tremendous security to claim your feelings and honor them when you fear that by doing so you'll be alone.

It would be interesting to go back and look at those Joseph Campbell interviews now. Vaguely familiar with the the book you mention; will check it out. Clicked just now on the Hero's Journey Outline link. Amazing to read through that first list of the "Twelve Stages" in the context of what we've been sharing here at RoD.

Thank you for your note and the links. Will definitely explore.


Pseudonymously yours said...

What Siddha Yoga was all about ...
The Larger Perspective

From the Leaving Siddha Yoga website I believe but was sent the link like this. Lots of great content on all of this online. Sorry to hear about exsy being off line or off limits.

Lucid & co,
I often thought Muktananda had created the epitome of the bad boys island, a kind of fairy tale dickenish kind of place where anything could happen and a boy could dream...

The above link gives the siddha yoga version of shaktipat context puts thos shakti highs in perspective.


Anonymous said...

There were many of us, I believe, with the awarenesses and thoughts you describe, Lucid. Being aware that we were looking for outside validation of SY from cultural figures, even celebrities, and wondering why we felt we needed that kind of validation. I remember well hearing others in SY talking about Meg Ryan or William Hurt as if their presence at programs was proof that it was all real--how ironic is that?? People whose business is make believe lending reality to the show....I didn't fall for that one, but I did fall for the presence of the academics ("the scholars") with their credentials and their ability to include SY in an ancient tradition that I respected. They were acting as shills for the show.

The sense of fear was always present for me, as well. The fear of doing something that would result in being abandoned--something like asking a difficult question, such as "why is there all this talk about Muktananda and girls? What's the basis for that?" Or questioning the guru's decisions in any way, even when they were clearly going to lead to huge expense with no benefit to anyone, or to reorganization of a department based on some new theory of management that wasn't applicable and only created tension and inefficiency. Fear was pervasive, and yet, we buried it or explained it away because of the highs.

And the emotional/psychological patterns you allude to, as well--so familiar. In coming to SY I was playing out an old pattern that had been running my life since adolescence--and somehow I convinced myself that it was an escape from that pattern, a cure for it, even! Leaving SY was not the end of that pattern for me, but it was the beginning of seeing it for what it was, which was the ultimate cure.

Thanks for your observations about your memoir. I'm glad to hear there is no nostalgia operating for those days.


Anonymous said...

>>"I did fall for the presence of the academics ("the scholars") "<<

Sigh. Me too! I had read alot of their work and was impressed...sigh. So many hooks for so many folks.
I was always afraid in Fallsburg...wrong hair, wrong sari, wrong tattoos, wrong look, too silly/ not silly enough, too smart/ too stupid,too serious/ not serious enough, wrong asana or the "right one" but after it went on sale (wrong timing), liking the "wrong saints" (the old weird ones),not liking the "right" one (Simpering Lakshmi), sitting in the "wrong" place in the Mandir (in the back),buying "Ashram Dharma" instead of "Smile, Smile, Smile", seating the "wrong" people up front in the Temple (too fat,crying, disheveled, not Phylicia Rashad)..wrong wrong wrong..I'd always manage to get it "right", AFTER the fact (when it didn't matter anymore) Felt so much like my nickname as a child: head in the clouds.
boy was I a sitting duck. got to laugh...


Anonymous said...

Pseudonymously yours said...
What Siddha Yoga was all about ...
The Larger Perspective

From the Leaving Siddha Yoga website I believe but was sent the link like this. Lots of great content on all of this online. Sorry to hear about exsy being off line or off limits.

Dear Typo,
I went to the link and read was excellent but it's not on the Leaving Siddha Yoga site. Do you have any idea where it is from?


Anonymous said...

I think I clicked a link in one of the yogadorkyphiliac type sites I think. It was so concise that I bookmarked it. I printed it even. If I locate the website location again will post.

Anonymous said...

"The Larger Perspective" - I found it under Stories on the LSY website, dated April 2003.

"The Yogi Scholars" - Yes, a hook for me too. They were a big deciding point for my choosing to stay in Siddha Yoga. I had mixed feelings about SY when I began at a local ashram. I was both strongly pulled towards it by my "experiences" there and a few of the people. But others just seemed plain crazy to me, with strange illogical beliefs. And the high prices and expensive brochures made me question whether this was just a money-making scheme. So I went to South Fallsburg during my first summer, 1989, to make a decision about staying in SY. There I heard the first talks that the "yogi scholars" gave, when they were first invited to give talks at a couple of courses. That was when I started thinking SY was a respectable tradition after all.

One workshop that had a large beneficial effect on me was given in 1992 by H. Coward, a professor who was invited to give a 2-day workshop. He was never part of SY and was very clear about having another guru. What really got me curious was that that was the only program I ever went to that had no swamis present. Unlike the 1989 courses in which the academics were introduced by a well-known swami, he was introduced by an MC whom I had never seen before. (The workshop was videotaped, like others.) On the second day he took a short sentence from Gurumayi's talk the night before and actually added another word, which added to and enriched the meaning of Gurumayi's sentence. This was the only time I ever saw someone who did not just blindly accept what Gurumayi said as absolute truth that was not open to modification of any kind. A truly independent person! In a practical sense, that workshop was my only experience in SY of breaking through negative patterns of a life-time. That was something I felt I had been promised by SY but never happened elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

This is a link to the story "The Larger Perspective" on the Leaving Siddha Yoga website:

The article has been on LSY a long time. It's dated 2003, not sure if that's when it was first posted there or if that was when it was written, maybe posted later. I've read it before and find it quite provocative. I would encourage people to read it. It puts what Muktananda and to a lesser (weaker) extent GM did with spiritual energy in a context that allows us to see they were not special. They learned some skills and pretended to us that meant that they were "siddhas", perfect, etc. It seems often people who have strong doubts about SY fall back on their shaktipat experiences or other energetic experiences as evidence that really GM or Muk were "real" gurus. The ability to transmit energy can be learned. It is not evidence of "perfection".


Anonymous said...

From The Larger Perspective: "He left home not because he encountered a guru, but to attain a higher social rank than was possible in his native environment. This motivation was at the root of all his actions in his lifetime."

Hello...? The writer claims to understand the root of someones else's actions for an entire lifetime. Really? They can do that?.

The article is mostly crap, exaggeration, and fantasy. I'm no lover of SYDA but if you're gonna read "Larger Perspective" without a critical eye you're still missing the target.

Anonymous said...

Struck a nerve 11:54? I remember coming to these various sy chats and responding in a similar manner. Hang on, let the different views percolate. Just share your perspective, let other's have theirs. The author you critique us using an old fashioned way of writing. It's not that they think they know the mind. It's an observation of a person patterns over a lifetime. Fits Muktananda. The article is pretty accurate. The truth hurts sometimes. It hurt a lot if us here. Peace traveler.

Anonymous said...

Meant to sign 'Typo' @5:06.

OBW appreciate you articulating point that energy highs do not equate to enlightenment. So much focus on visions in my early siddha yoga days. Had all the chakras dancing in my head. With little vowels and devis and bells ringing and feel fiiiiine!

Anonymous said...

"The author you critique us using an old fashioned way of writing.... "The article is pretty accurate"

Yes, it's in the style of yellow journalism, muckraking, and nonsense. The article is largely impossible to fact check and the writer is obviously someone with a huge chip on their shoulder. I should trust the article as much as I should trust the email that says I won the Nigerian Lottery.

If you want to chloroform your intellect and everyone else's with vague excuses and condescending drivel, go ahead. Let that percolate.

Anonymous said...

."Yes, it's in the style of yellow journalism, muckraking, and nonsense. The article is largely impossible to fact check and the writer is obviously someone with a huge chip on their shoulder."

Ok Buddy, if you know so much, why don't you fill us all in? We're listening.



Anonymous said...

In the world of psychological manipulation demands for facts are a common tactic. And distraction. This is not a court room. It's just a place for people to process. If some entries upset people they should skip those. Typo

Not sure what is being objected to, most of it appears jn multiple places. What is useful us to have it compressed. For me what stood out was the use of shame to get control. That was perfected under Gurumayi. She was a pro.

Anonymous said...

>>"Not sure what is being objected to, most of it appears jn multiple places. What is useful is to have it compressed. For me what stood out was the use of shame to get control. That was perfected under Gurumayi. She was a pro."<<

that was my reaction to the piece (which I did not remember having read before..thanks for the information). Most of it I had either heard, read or experienced directly but not put together in a kind of "time line".

SeekHer said...

Hey all Part two of Lucid's excellent account of his SY days is up under a separate post. Sorry about the advertising posts that are creeping in here--nothing I can do but bat them away when they appear. given open commenting policy.

Re: my comment about the last stage of disenchantment being able to experience enchantment again without falling in love. I didn't mean to refer to nostalgia. Lucid's account of meeting G didn't make me nostalgic at all; rather, it powerfully evoked all the feelings that overwhelmed me when I first met the Guru, allowed me to experience them again, and see them through another's eyes. What I discovered was surprising--I don't long for those times at all. Enchantment truly is magical but it is also illusory and comes with a very high price. When you can look enchantment in the eye and it bestows on you once again its most alluring look, and you choose to smile and turn away--you're free.


Anonymous said...

"Ok Buddy, if you know so much, why don't you fill us all in? We're listening.

"demands for facts are a common tactic. And distraction."

This is soooo disappointing . E tu OS. OMG. There's enough reason to leave SY without being a total propaganda junkie.

Doesn't anyone see how the author was stating as fact that which they couldn't possibly know, and broad brushing opinions and conclusions that really make no sense? Is it true that facts shouldn't get in the way of a good story?

It's true this isn't a courtroom. But if I were hangin out with one of my buds and someone said something that sounded like shit talk I'd call them on it. The "ex" community can be as manipulative and as curvy as the cult that spawned it. That what I'm processing. If you don't learn to discriminate BS when you see it you're liable to perpetually jump from one liar to the next.

Maybe reading here isn't a good idea. I thought this topic was so cut and dry, but clearly I'm odd man out. This feels like being one of a hand full of men in a sea of women in a year 2000 something SY program. Yeah if that person still wants to know what happened lately in SY, the male demographic dwindled from like 40% in 1982, which seems typical of spiritual groups, to probably less than 10% in 2002, which is a very unbalanced ratio.

I like facts, but still my spidey sense intuition tells me the author of that article is full of crap.

That's my process and this is my stop.


SeekHer said...

Oh and one important observation that is also something of a housekeeping item.

This week I was reading a news blogs I visit daily, one that has a large readership but a rather small corp of regular commenters (I can tell because that site makes you sign in with a name and most peeps use the same one.)I don't read the comments on that site much at all, for the same reason I don't look at the comments section on most mainstream media sites: there be idiots and monsters.

Of course, RoD is different. Much of that good stuff happens on the comments pages, and frequent contributors are much like co-editors of this blog. You each help to frame narratives and provide much needed perspective and fill in missing details—along with being soulful and generous and real. Can't imagine why anyone would still be reading here if it weren't for you all.

Back to the news blog I was reading. I did look at the comments on one uplifting story and what I found reminded me why I don't waste my time there anymore. A troll posted something provocative and suddenly the regulars rose to the bait and the rest of the comments thread was all about what the troll said, and not what the article was about. I've seen the same thing happen hundreds of times on as many websites and blogs.

I've always wondered; when a troll appears and lobs a bomb, why doesn't everyone just ignore them? It's easy enough to spot one.

1. they are not identifiably regular commenters and may even identify as a new reader, but right off the bat they want to dictate rules of how the blog and comments should operate

2. their comment is just enough on-topic to appear to contribute to the conversation, but it is posed in bossy, or mean-spirited or shrill terms designed to provoke a response

3. they are after attention, not discourse. They want the discussion focused on them, not on the topic being discussed.

Every once in a while someone that fits this profile shows up here at RoD. I've been truly heartened by the collective response. Rather than rise to the bait, I've seen you engage cautiously, giving the person the benefit of the doubt should they actually be a true newbie who is putting a toe in the water, and perhaps carrying some unresolved issues around. This almost always defuses the situation in a natural way, and failing to get a rise, the true trolls slink away, while anyone who may be a newbie likely joins the army of anons.

And of course, this isn't to say everything here is always sweetness and light. We had our fill of that and in SY and if someone is having a bad day and needs to vent, that energy gets absorbed pretty efficiently here too.

So thank you all for your collective compassion and good judgment. It's what has kept RoD moderator free since 2008!

Anonymous said...

>>"Doesn't anyone see how the author was stating as fact that which they couldn't possibly know"<<

yes, I absolutely can see that, MBG. I can see that nobody really can know what motivated muktananda to leave home originally. What I found interesting was not that speculative part of the "story" but the later information, much of which can be pieced together by those of us who were in syda and some of which seems to run through many paths coming out of India.
I think it's important to begin to "de-construct" the likes of osho, muktananda, papaji et. al. to begin to discern patterns in the guru stories, the way the students are manipulated, the way Indian culture and politics are such an important factor. Maybe you don't like how this person did it...but it doesn't seem to me that he/she is the "liar" you have characterized.

It's a little disingenuous (and also pretty funny) to diss "the sea of women" and then claim your "spidey sense" as the basis for your opinion, imho.What difference does it make how many men are on a path or how many women? Is there something important about the "male
demographic" that I'm missing? Are men "better" students? better at spirituality? more serious? This is one of those "we don't talk about it" issues that probably should be talked about..the inherent sexism of spiritual paths and it goes in BOTH directions.

I actually hope you don't stop participating here because I enjoy your posts..not this last one so much though. Best regards to you...really!


SeekHer said...


If by the "topic" you mean the article that was linked to by one commenter on this post, that's not the topic of this post. Most of us have never read this article, and don't know what it says. You've cited one example of how it doesn't meet your standards of scrutiny and then made a sweeping statement that your conclusion is cut and dry.

Your last comment and mine crossed in the mail; you might think mine was posted in response to you, but you needn't, it was actually written in response to a number of things and not your comment.

If you can provide more material for reasoned discussion of your point of view about the article --you'll likely find a receptive audience here. That will certainly give you a chance to cool off a bit and you need to. No one wants to have a reasoned conversation with someone who insulting the entire community they hope to engage with.

As for the female/male demographics of SY, that does not play a part here in the least. Focus on opinions, not the person you project is expressing that opinion. That's a hall of mirrors you will easily get lost in.

SeekHer said...


I went back and read the "Larger Perspective" article linked to here. I should say, reread, as I saw that it was something I encountered on LSY years ago. I feel about it now the way I did then: the writer makes many fascinating points in the process of putting forth a thesis, i.e. Muktananda practiced tantra to acquire siddhis that resulted in the energy transfusion we know as shaktipat. The writer also adopts the point of view of an eye-witness to the formation of SY under Baba's tutelage. As readers we are being asked to trust this insider status in order to accept the hypothesis, that much is plain.

Now, the point I believe you were trying to make is a valid one. Having at last learned to question much of the history and mythology of SY, why should we rush to embrace alternates to these that are presented with little more evidence? My answer is, we should not. But I don't see any reason to dismiss this theory as the nonsensical ramblings of a disaffected follower, either. True, no factual claim in that article is sourced, but I'm not sure how they could be.

As Lawrence Wright told the Daily Beast when the Church Scientology claimed some factual errors in his new book rendered the entire work nonsense: "“It’s a big project to write, essentially, a history of a hostile organization that hides its data and tries to mislead you about its past."

There aren't many old-timers eager to go on record confirming the malfeasance and criminality of Baba's regime. And there aren't many, if any, objective third-party sources that can be footnoted in support of those claims, either. So we are left with a writer who has clearly thought out the genesis, growth and decline of SY from an alternate perspective, and possibly from a front row seat. No one here is lining up to have their darshan. Its just more grist for the mill.

I'd be eager to know what in particular sets you off about this article? Write about that, and I'm sure we'll be all ears.

Everyone not eager to debate siddhis versus siddhas are invited to migrate to Lucid's next post, in which his adventure continues...

Anonymous said...

What you said, SeekHer (Jan 26 9:18 PM). I ditto it all, sentence by sentence.


Anonymous said...

At the risk of continuing the conversation, what interested me was the description of the political pay-offs and lack of separation between "church" and "state" that permeates Indian culture. It's very well documented and continues to affect/infect the "religious" structure as evidenced by recent events in Mumbai (popular religious figures making pronouncements in support of specious judges and politicians) . Anyone who has spent time in India has seen this intertwining of the political and the "spiritual". Transposing that common attitude into another culture with very different attitudes can create big problems. It's the same with every tradition: if you aren't aware of the cultural background, you are at risk of not being able to separate what is real from what is unreal and simply cultural residue.
If you're taking someone seriously because they have the title of "mahamandaleshwar" in a culture where that title can be bought, then you have a problem in the making..just as if you have a politician who is evangelical here in the US and you don't realize that his/her religious beliefs are affecting his/her political stance .
Having the context seems to be an important thing.That was what I found interesting about the article.


Anonymous said...

mbg et al....

re: "demands for facts are a common tactic. And distraction."

This was said in context of psychological abuse. Always hard to prove. That is part of the abuse itself. Demands for proof add to the insult when it is suble. I think we actually agree mbg.

absolutely approve of fact checking!


Anonymous said...

sub T le. Subtle ;)

Anonymous said...

I met "her" several times and felt nothing special after being with her alone and around the company of her so called "devotees." On the contrary, she often confused me every time I asked her something and she obviously ignored me. After not moving and staying in my spot waiting for a response, she would finally look at me and just nod (how boring!).

She is no Guru. She will never be, no matter how hard she tries. Rich people are so credulous and gullible. They give her cash like there is no end. Big, big mistake. They're so needy for attention they don't mind this woman stealing from them before their own eyes. How sad, really!

The only times I was appreciated and/or recognized is when I worked in her overpriced bookstore. I just couldn't believe the amounts of money that (avoiding to mention names) spent in her bookstore.

Her disappearance is a "boon" to everyone. So glad she's gone. The mantra isn't hers, as many have tried to contend. The mantra and meditation are gifts to humanity. Gurumayi is nothing but trash and a most false THIEF.

Any more questions?

Anonymous said...

If you want to experience real Shaktipat, then meditate. Meditation will give you Shaktipat. Gurumayi will not.

Anonymous said...

When asked about her "brother" in her Oakland Ashram, I was ordered to "shut up" because I was actually referring to her LOVER, thinking George A. was her brother as I always saw them together and very close.

She should be DEPORTED. I wonder what Nityanda would say about her. She is a shame! Shame, sista, shame!!