I got involved with Siddha Yoga in 1983, when I was 31. Before I got into SYDA I was having alot of fun in my life. On the surface. I was successful in business, I was a gung-ho triathelete, I was obsessed with sex, and had some fantastic friends. However, inside I was without any emotional structure and desperate to feel safe inside. I started thinking about God alot after having a sort of cosmic experience during a triathlon race. Four hours of sustained high performance can create quite a high. A friend took me to the ashram shortly thereafter. I thought it was totally weird, but was drawn to all the feel good feelings. I went for it hook line and sinker. Why? Because, I felt safe there. I didn't have to do the hard work needed to feel safe and you could say I made a deal with the devil. Mommy in the form of the whole ashram community made me feel all tucked in and safe.
I abandoned my life: abandoned my business, my athletic practice and my state of excellent health, my friends, my family, my creative process, and most of all my sense of authenticity and integrity.
I was a lesbian before I got into SYDA. I am a lesbian now. God knows what I was during my SYDA years, I bought into the whole celibacy thing completely. I was on staff for three years when I went to Ganeshpuri, was flown over by SYDA, and lived on a ridiculously meager stipend. My best friend was a woman also on staff who had been a lesbian in her previous outside life. We were not lovers, we never considered being lovers since we were good celibate yoginis. However, we were very good close friends. Gurumayi went on tour in India while I stayed in Ganeshpuri. My friend traveled on that tour with Gurumayi. I stayed behind. One Sunday, I was pulled into the manager's office to be told that that Gurumayi said that I was to leave the ashram at once, to get a flight out of Bombay as soon as possible, that I was not to live in any SYDA ashram anywhere in the world.
I was floored. What had I done? I was so ashamed that I didn't even ask the manager why I was being sent away. If that was what the Guru wanted, then it was correct and I was to comply. I was terrified and ashamed, and stunned. I had been on staff for three years, I had not a penny to my name, I had no more belongings, I had no sense of worth, and I certainly had not learned how to create any safety inside myself.
I simply swallowed all my feelings of fear and shame, got my ticket and was out of there in 3 days. I telexed a friend who opened her home to me, letting me stay with her for several months while I got it together. I found out not much later, from my close friend, that someone had told Gurumayi that my friend and I had been having an affair, and that she ordered that I leave. What a joke: I was the complete sucker, I was the one that followed all the rules, I was the one that chanted all the chants, that meditated every morning at 3:00AM, that didn't gossip or keep bad company, that thought only of the Guru. How far from the truth, that I was having an affair with my friend. All we talked about was Gurumayi.
I went home, gave an experience talk on learning Humility in Ganehspuri. I got a job, lived near the ashram, did seva. I was asked to pay for my air fare home from India, and even made payment for about six months.
How did I extricate myself from this sick scene? I don't know. Slowly I simply just didn't want to go to the ashram anymore. It's not like I made a decision over night, its more like the decision got made in my unconscious and slowly filtered up into daylight.
What happened is that I decided to be alive. To have feelings, to get mad, to be afraid, to think sometimes that I was great, that I could decide the course of my life. To be creative, to love another woman.
Today, I live a life examined, but not certainly in the saccharin manner described by SYDA. I am in a long term relationship with a wonderful woman. We have been together eight years. I write, I paint, I take photos, I play music, I have very close relationships with my family. I am doing very deep process work with an incredible counselor to finally create that structure and safety inside myself. I have found a small, terrified, little girl inside who was terribly abandoned at a very young age. What I did in SYDA is abandon her again. With hard work and a sense of excitement, I am learning to love and create safety and structure for that little girl inside. This is something that no guru could ever give to me.
Submitted: January 1997