My name is Alison Cliatt. I am 29 years old and I live in Oakland,
It has taken me the better part of 10 years to be be able to speak
openly about being abused and manipulated by Gurumayi and her
But now I speak. What happened to me in Siddha Yoga almost cost me
my life. For years I have lived in a silent darkness of shame and
guilt. Trapped in a self destrcutive numbness that came from
internalizing the betrayal of trust that took place when Ram Butler
invited me to his hotel room and after talking for awhile asked me to
lie down on the bed with him.
What followed was an affair that Ram characterized as tantric - he
told me I would be the next author of the Correspondence Course - he
said he'd known it since I was a young girl and had been writing the
course just for me. Ram would call me from his house in Sadhana Kutir
every night and we would talk for hours. He made allusions that I was
going through what Gurumayi went through with Baba.
I went along with it. Ram represented the Guru. Everyone around me
revered him as a holy man; as someone who had realized the highest
teachings of the Guru. He told me Gurumayi had sent him to me. He
told me that Gurumayi knew everything. She knew about our being
together and it was OK with her. I flew to meet him in different
cities where he was giving workshops.
He also told me he had had other affairs. One was with a woman who
lived in the Ashram. Another was a woman he met at one of his
workshops. He reassured me that she had recently come to the Ashram
to let him know she was married and pregenant with her first child.
Ram told me he was writing to Gurumayi to tell her he wanted to
divorce his wife and marry me.
And then, one day, Ram told me Gurumayi said no, he could not divorce
his wife and marry me. We were to stop our relationship. Ram was
not supposed to communicate with me for a year. Ram follwed that by
saying we would stay in touch. I was the love of his life. Now I
would just have to transition from being the girlfriend to the
student. He told me if I suffered at all it was because of my
pride. He told me I seduced him. He told me to write a letter to
Gurumayi telling her I was sorry and that it was my fault.
I realize I've been telling you alot about what Ram did. I should
tell you what I was doing - but that's the new part - I've held all
that back for so long.
Well, I was suffering. There was a part of me that knew that this
was wrong, but at the time,I could not reist it. Ram represented
everything I thought I was striving for in life.
I wasn't able to believe that Gurumayi would allow someone with a big
problem to go around abusing other people, but that is what she did.
Gurumayi knew that Ram Butler had a history of abusing his power as a
teacher of Siddha Yoga to seduce young women. She accepted that kind
of behavior. Ram even told me that Gurumayi once told him that he
could have been a great Guru but the bad press caused by his behavior
would have ruined it.
I was so confused. When I wrote to Gurumayi I never got a response.
I've been writing letters ever since. No one will respond to me in
Richard Gillette, Gurumayi's resident therapist, met with my mother
to tell her the situation was my fault. But he never spoke one word
to me, never asked what I went through or how I was doing.
Ram Butler got therapy.
I got nothing. Every one I knew thought Ram Butler was a great guy.
Being betrayed by Gurumayi and Ram I was cut off from what had been
my source of comfort in life, the place I trusted to learn about
I quit my job, I quit Siddha Yoga. I quit seeing my therapist
beacuse I couldn't tell her what had happened because she already
thought Siddha Yoga was not a safe place because of the experience
which had brought me to therapy years earlier which was that George
Afif had singled me out as one of his girls when I was 17...bought me
gifts, tried to kiss me during a break from Darshan seva...I know
another former darshan girl, who was 16 or 17, that ended up having
sex with George Afif in Gurumayi's house in Ganeshpuri. Gurumayi
walked in on them. She let Geroge stay, but the girl was told to
leave darshan seva - she left the Ashram. A saw her a few years
later and she told me what had happened.
Gurumayi knew that George was raising hell with the girls, with his
crazy projects, with his lavish lifestyle...one night after darshan
he rented out a movie theatre in Middletown and drove a bunch of us,
including Namdev Hayes, to see Terminator 2. Ram was the one that
had talked me through that one, he said George was gone, Gurumayi
loved me and didn't want me to feel bad...I hated myself, I hated
Siddha Yoga, and yet I kept going back. I hated Gurumayi and at the
same time I was hoping that there was a good explanation for
everything I had seen and lived through.
When I told Ram I was having a hard time living my life he told me
that affairs like ours happened in all organizations. Clinton was on
TV at that time dealing with his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Ram
told me when he saw those parts of the news he was glad he didn't
have to go through that.
Ram told me if I was ever going to say anything about our affair I
should wait until his daughter got a little older. My parent's
divorced when I was was two (my dad had an affair) so Ram said to me
think what a difference it could have made in your life if your dad
had been around a few years longer.
My life was a wreck. My health was a wreck. Ram told me to go back
to my college boyfriend. And you know what? I did. It was awful. I
couldn't get close to anyone because I was protecting Ram and
Gurumayi and Sidda Yoga. Ram told me thousands of people read the
course. He couldn't be exposed it would be a disaster for Siddha
So, I suffered alone.
There is so much to say.....
Since May of 2001 my boyfriend and I have been challenging the Ashram
to communicate with us about the history of abuse in Siddha Yoga.
The truth needs to be told. People who hear about Siddha Yoga
deserve to know that the stories about Baba and the girls are true.
Affairs and abuse of power are a deep and ramapant issue within the
Siddha Yoga community.
I believe that there should be an open investigation of the abuses of
power. For years I supported Gurumayi with my time, my money and my
heart - and during that time people were getting hurt.
Now I give my support to the wounded to the survivor in me, and in
anyone who has suffered from abuse or injustice.
Together we can bring awareness to these issue so that there can be a
resolution, a peace.
Siddha Yoga doesn't have a trademark on the truth.
Radha - thank you for telling your story here. I've been wanting to
say something here for so long...you helped me.
I hope other women will read this and tell their truth. I don't want
another person to go through an experience like this. It has changed
the course of my life in a dramatic way.
Even though it has been very difficult SY did not kill me or my
spirit. In some way it made me stronger because of the depth of
darkness within myself I had to face.
I know that Ram behaved the way he did because he was suffering.
It must be true that Gurumayi is suffering and that is why she has
allowed the culture of abuse that surrounds her.
Just like I don't want to suffer I wish that Gurumayi and Ram and
everyone can be free from suffering.
I write this and the letters I have sent to the SY managers because
these issues are a part of my life. I don't want to hide from them
like Gurumayi does, I finally accept them, and now want to resolve
them in a way that can benefit everyone, not just the few people
trying to protect the image of Siddha Yoga and Gurumayi.