Comments & Responses - January 1997

This was received 29 Jan 97:

Just a note to say thanks for creating a space for people like myself who have left SYDA to share their experiences and thoughts with each other. I was involved quite heavily for a period of about 4 years and had many good experiences but ultimately the lies and discrimination I felt when I stayed at the ashram forced me to abandon what I had thought was a "pure path". You see I am a person with AIDS and that is a bad thing at South Fallsburg. They put you in single rooms far away from the Main Building and tell you it's "for your own good". They also may tell you, as they did me, not to talk about your disease or flash your pills around because it might frighten or disturb others who might be uninformed and they might create a "scene". I could go on, but that would serve no real purpose. I have been deeply hurt by my experiences with SYDA and almost 2 years later I am still going through the healing process. Thanks again for your time and interest.

Response:

Thank you for your kind note. I get very angry at the pretense and show that GM has required with the end result causing discrimination towards gays, lesbians and others like yourself. It is especially outrageous that a spiritual organization that alleges to 'see god in each other' and to teach about divine love HAS NO COMPASSION of its own, towards its own. Rather she uses the pretense of spiritually to gain followers, raise money and look good.

Pendragon

This was received 29 Jan 97: Click HERE for continued response from a previous writer.

This was received 28 Jan 97:

I really liked the latest article about sexual abuse. It was clever to write first about sexual abuse, thus making the point about the damage that is done before even bringing siddha yoga into the picture. I think it gives more credibility to the subject for the purpose of getting the disbeliever to stop and think.

And as far as people who were sexually abused writing their experience in Personal Stories - I say it's a matter of time, that's all. It took me 3 years to find a place to tell my story. I thought I was the only person ever kicked out of siddha yoga, outside of perhaps the obvious lunatic. It's only a matter of time for one of those women or perhaps one of the young girls to grow up and discover the website. It could be that some of them think they were the only one and are thus afraid to speak and blame themselves. As you know, many people in siddha yoga avoid reading articles or listening to the negative information floating around. So we set up ourselves to be easily blamed for what goes wrong. So it takes even longer to find things like this website.

Thanks for such a great idea on the website.

Response:

Thanks for your kind comments. I hope they get the point: it's nobody's business how a victim of sexual abuse deals with it. I'm really tired of the expectations that people have about this. They just don't understand and perhaps never will. And frankly, I don't think they would believe it if someone did come forward. There is more than enough information available to come to a reasonable decision, if you take the time and have the courage.

So, thanks again for your support.

Regards,

Pendragon

This was received 23 Jan 97: Click HERE for continued response from a previous writer.

This was received 27 Jan 97: Click HERE for continued response from a previous writer.

This was received 27 Jan 97: Click HERE for continued response from a previous writer.

This was received 26 Jan 97:

Thanks for your willingness to offer such an abundance of truth. It's really, really important that there is a resource offering those with questions and doubts food for thought.

I hope that every ex-devotee downloads all the articles and stories on this site and keeps them handy. There will come a time when the threat of the truth reaches such a critical mass that SY will no doubt take steps to try and shut this particular site down.

If and when that day comes, I hope those of you who care enough about the still-deluded will preserve hold these resources out for the taking.

Let a thousand websites bloom!

This was received 25 Jan 97: Click HERE for continued response from a previous writer.

This was received 25 Jan 97:

I was always under the impression Gurumayi was there to teach us to find our own truth and not focus on her. I have always believed that Siddha Yoga was teaching us how to live in the world and handle everything from the highest point of view. Isn't Siddha Yoga all about love, respect, honour for humanity? Baba always said honour your self, love your self, respect your self..God dwells within you as you. Who cares what Gurumayi and all helpers are doing, it is what we are doing that counts.

Response:

I am confused. You seem to support the mission of SY, Chidvilasananda and Muktananda, and you seem to say it doesn't matter what she and her helpers are doing. So are you saying that it is good to follow the teachings of Chidvilasananda and that it doesn' t matter if she is emotionally abusive to people? that it doesn't matter that Muktananda had sex with teenaged girls and young adult women? that it doesn't matter that Muktananda and Chidvilasananda kept a sex offender (George Affif) on staff until he became a public liability? (he was "let go" just before the New Yorker article came out in the fall of 1994).

Have you read the complete O Guru, Guru, Guru article? There is just too much information to ignore!

Treating people with respect is a wonderful teaching. And one can learn how to do that from many people and traditions. But don't you think that the teacher should practice what s/he preaches?

In the end you are right, it only matters what "we are doing"? What are you doing about the abuse and lies that exist in the spiritual community you belong to?

Pendragon

This was received 27 Jan 97:

So everyone that ever tells you to treat people with respect, you're going to check there credentials out first before you act. Sure check them out if you are going to go and live with them or give them your money. The truth can come from any mouth.

I don't belong to any spiritual community, I participate at different times with a spiritual community. I take my discrimination with me where ever I go.

What am I doing about the abuse that exist in the spiritual community, I see some people would attract abuse and lies where ever they went. I have only enough time to handle my own stuff. But there again I am happy to share my experiences if asked.

Response:

I'm still not clear how you deal with the insurmountable amount of information that has been documented about the problems that have been in SY for years. They include:

bulletthe continued allegations of sexual abuse by Muktananda, the founder of SY, the one who put Chidvilasananda and her brother, Nityananda on the chair (by the way, where is Nityananda?)
bulletthe harassment of Nityananda by Chidvilasananda
bulletthe PR related moves by SY (they dumped George, a sex offender, just before the New Yorker came out and now blame him for spending money that he wasn't authorized to do)
bulletthe firing of all the gay and lesbian hatha yoga teachers

Should I go on?

How can you "support the truth" when it is coming from people like this?

You talk about people being stuck in their emotions. Is there something wrong with emotions? After all, we're born them, we all live with them and we die with them. (Muktananda and Chidvilasananda have shown their feelings over the years: anger included.) But there are those who go to extra ordinary means to avoid them. People use drugs, food, alcohol, activity, relationships and yes, even god and guru's to avoid feeling anything but "great" or "bliss". Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with any of these items as long they aren't being used-abused to avoid feelings, responsibilities OR hurting oneself or others.

You talk about love. Are you talking about the "love bombing" that is so prevalent among the sy greeters? You should see it from behind the curtain. The department head or the greeter is so "sweet and loving" to the new person or the seva person and then when that person walks away they roll their eyes and give you that all knowing nod "s/he has a long way to go".

I am instantly suspicious of any group that wants me to feel, act, think, dress a certain way. A true spiritual teacher should, in my opinion, be teaching us how to deal with our feelings, NOT avoiding them.

And from another point of view, let's say you are walking down the street, late at night and some unsavory characters are following you. Is not fear an appropriate reaction? After all it is a biological reaction: fight or flight. Or you walk into a room and see an adult having sex with an obviously teenaged girl. What do you feel? Isn't a little anger at the adult in order? The anger gives us the energy to intervene.

I hope the child doesn't have to wait for someone to ask you if there is a problem!

Pendragon

This was received 29 Jan 97:

I don't know what else to say to your letters except this.

It seems to me you are either leaving Siddha Yoga or you have left. If you have left then use your energies to find YOUR path. If you are still leaving you are making it very painful for yourself. Move on.

Response:

How is it that you think you know what I should do with my life? I'm puzzled that you should be telling me how to deal with my process of leaving sy. How is that you know that I am "making it very painful"? Maybe, it is very freeing to talk about all the double talk that has existed in my life for more than 15 years. Maybe, it is just what I need to be doing.

You assume that since I am stuck here, that I am not also on a new path. How do you know that? Why do you care? Maybe, so I will stop raising the doubts that brought you to this site in the first place.

It appears that since you can not defend the accusations and known problems of SY you can only attack the messenger. Why do you need to do this? What is wrong with your life that you need to tell me what to do?

Someone said that most people in SY would not be able to hear what I have to say because I am discussing the very doubts that they are trying to ignore themselves. I guess this is true.

Regards,

Pendragon

This was received 23 Jan 97:

Hello Pendragon! Happy 1997! It took me awhile to catch up with your new website...but as usual it was a learning process! Had to get brave enough to install Netscape Navigator and use it. The stories have been amazing and the comments section is really great! Thanks again for doing all this.

This was received 23 Jan 97:

Dear Pendragon, Thanks for your lucid comments and indeed for your site. Prior to coming across it last year I had been in Siddha Yoga for ten years and had done a lot of seva including MC'ing programs. Although not directly physically affected by anything I read - I never participated at the executive level, was never physically close to Gurumayi (only met her twice) and I don't live in the USA - I felt I just couldn't continue with something in my life that was so palpably polluted with delusion and lies. I'm not angry though. I will always be extremely grateful for what I got from SY. The principles and most of the practices are great. I guess I feel like I have this spiritual dimension that I didn't have eleven years ago but now have no real outlet for it. I've managed to avoid running out and latching on to something else - you know ("the bad mistake made after the failed relationship syndrome") but now I feel like getting out in the spiritual world again although I will tread carefully. It seems to me that GM does have considerable power of some sort and is capable of transmitting... whatever you want to call it, but at the same time is obviously a flawed and potentially destructive individual. I will be interested to see if I can replicate any of the wonderful experiences in SY without feeling part of an organization that is at best morally dubious and at worst manipulative and exploitative.

All the best

Response:

Thank you for your note. I share some of your same reactions. I was never that close to the inner circle but had lived an ashram for some time, knew Muktananda and visited Ganeshpuri. Lots of seva later, I could no longer accept the obvious betrayal and misuse of power.

I too am grateful of many of the experiences and teachings. I am cautious though of any thing presented by Siddha Yoga, as I can't be sure what was stressed or what was left out to further benefit their position. As a result, I putting on hold what I have learned from them and seeking out the teachings from other writers and other traditions. Also, I do not know if the teachings and experiences from Siddha Yoga, were worth the price, as the price included the sexual and emotional abuse of people.

I have continued my spiritual life in other areas with great joy, and great caution. To date it has been very helpful. Leaving Siddha Yoga gave me a strength that I forgot I had, a strength of inner dependence that while SY taught, they never practiced.

Pendragon

This was received 23 Jan 97:

I can't decide if what I read in this site is true or false. As some of your readers, I can't understand why sexually abused people didn't go to justice. They are so few of them to tell in your site : "Yes, it really happened to me". Also, I can't understand why none of the swamis who have left are not on this site. If they agree with what is said here, why don't they tell us ?

Perhaps, as one of your reader said : "they have left for their own reasons", but not necessary for the same as you. We don't know.

So I am puzzled. I visited your site, 9 months ago, for the first time. I loved the sincerity of the sharings I found there. But, I still love the teachings of SY and am still happy to be in this path. This controversy about SY questions me and forces me to clarify the reasons I want to continue with SY. It is a good thing.

Response:

Please read my essay, The Dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse: Betrayal by the Parental Figure. It is under the Article's section. I wrote this article in response to your questions (and the questions of others) as to why the victims of sexual abuse may have chosen to keep their privacy.

I am glad you are open to exploring the problems that exist in SY. They will not go away as long as SYDA (Chidvilasananda) teaches that the Guru is perfect and not able to make mistakes. Have you looked at other spiritual paths? You know of course that you are not allowed to visit other spiritual teachers, if you are a true devotee of SY. They are so concerned that a free course has been produced and given to the centers and ashrams that has one basic message: DO NOT SEE OTHER TEACHERS OR GURUS. I think they are so concerned, and rightfully so, that people may see a better way of doing it.

Pendragon

This was received 27 Jan 97:

Yes, I'll read it.

Yes, it is my belief that to keep one's faith in a spiritual path it is better to accept to face the problems if any. It is an opportunity to grow.

Thank you for your moderate answer. What kept me reading your site is that I read many moderate and argumented stories that looked sincere to me.

This was received 22 Jan 97:

Although I have left Siddha Yoga for my own personal reasons... I find the articles about Baba an outrage. Although I have seen these unsubstantiated accusations, before, and having been there at the time they were supposed to have happened, I find all these people quite unbelievable.. Why did they waite so long after Baba's passing to make these claims.. Did they think Baba would have put the hex on them? or better yet, have them assassinated? They will have to deal with this Karma they have created and god help them! I have also been close to some of his oldest devotees and it seems to have gone by most except for these few people including that former swami who's faith in the guru has been blown out the window by Baba's Alleged brutality... Nityananda was known to have taken sticks to lazy fellows and his authority and respect was never questioned...after talking with so many people when these molestations were to have taken place ... it is still a mystery who all these people are and what their real relationship. if any, to the guru was...

Whatever reasons I have had for leaving Siddha Yoga... They certainly never had anything to do with that crap that I have heard out of these people's mouths...

Yes there were some very Heavy things that went on after he left ... I'm not sure that things have ever really straightened out... But I will always love Baba and Gurumayi, and the teachings will always have truth in my life..and my heart... Ed

Response:

Dear Ed,

So you choose not to share with us why YOU left Siddha Yoga. Is that not important enough to tell us? If you would ask us to respect the reasons you left siddha yoga, Why can you not respect the reasons others have left?

Are you more upset that people make the claims that Muktananda had sex with them or that they waited to make it public or that they are even talking about it? Did you not read the Co-Evolution Quarterly article that came out shortly after his death?

It is hardly unusual for victims, especially children, of sexual abuse to be afraid to report what has been done to them. They are afraid of being abandoned emotionally and physically. And yes, they are afraid of retaliations. How is it that you have no comprehension or compassion for these girls? By the way, how are young, teen aged girls, who are living in the ashram, supposed to access the media or the police in order to file a sexual complaint about their guru?

And then there is the more recent O Guru article from November 1994, which quotes women who had sexual contact with Muktananda. You do not believe this either? In this day and age, there was no way the New Yorker would have printed any of these items without the backup of those people willing to go to court and testify.

You speak of 1 swami who left. There were scores of swamis that have left siddha yoga. I think they knew more than we did of what was really going on. How can you trust the old timers who are still in siddha yoga? They are still there despite the fact you left, for whatever reasons! How credible can they be? Don't they have to justify their own version of siddha yoga to you and to themselves; just like you did before you left?

Why is it so unbelievable that Muktananda had sex with teen aged girls? Since you do not say, I will project some of my experiences with him. You see, I spent time with Muktananda and there was a time that I, like you, did not believe these accusations either.

I wonder if you believe he did nothing wrong because he was so charming to you in darshan? Because he lead a great chant? Because he stopped your thoughts while you were meditating with him? Because you believed he made you have incredible ecstatic experiences? Because he had these powers and attributes you assume, I think, that he could not have molested anyone. You thinking is flawed. We in the west are so naive. We assume that because the "guru" has these powers that they can not make a mistake. We believe what we experience and ignore what does not fit the parameters of the "teachings".

So you may love your "Idea" of how Muktananda was. And you may love your "Idea" of how Chidvilasananda is, but if you love them so much how is it that you are not in the ashram doing the guru gita everyday and bowing to her when she walks my. Obviously you left because what you saw did not match with what you were told. And yet you seem to be hanging on to a fantasy of something that was never real. What is keeping you from taking the next step, admitting to yourself that you did the right thing by leaving and that the place is built on a series of mistruth's?

Not only have you rejected Chidvilasananda (as you have stopped being a part of siddha yoga and SHE IS SIDDHA YOGA) and obviously Nityananda jr (because you forget to mention him as someone you hold in your heart, did you ever hold him in your heart? Do you feel betrayed by him as many of us did?) but you reject Muktananda by rejecting them both. Remember Muktananda put them BOTH on the chair and since they weren’t realized (as is obvious from both their actions) they made mistakes, like any human being. As least Nityananda Jr had the courage to admit his, she has not.

You left siddha yoga because of these "heavy things that went on after he left" and you are "not sure that things have ever really straightened out". What are you still really holding on to? It’s just an image, of what never was.

Pendragon

This was received 23 Jan 97:

My reasons for leaving had more to do with the direction that the organization (Gurumayi) has taken. from the time Baba Left, and the shakeup between Gurumayi and her brother... When I referred to Nityananda, I meant Bhagavan Nityananda. I was never that fond of baby Nityananda.. I think that any magazine, New yorker,or any other loves nothing more than to be able to discredit any one or anything that is out of their diminutive comprehension...and yes a number of swamis left after Baba left... There are always going to be people leaving no matter what... but the charges of child molestation.. if it were remotely true, would more than cast a dark cloud on Siddha Yoga... You are talking about a sickness, and such an abuse of power.. that there could be nothing but disaster to be associated with that kind of karma...

Nityanada could never have given Mukatananda his blessing... but maybe you feel that Nityananda was just another man prone to mistakes like any other....

I have friends whos children ( females) grew up around the ashram and they have all grown into radiant beings some are still close and others have sort of gone other paths.. for similar reasons as I have.. It's only in the last three years and finally last summer that I felt that I had to get off the fence, as Gurumayi said so often... I never looked for the guru.. the guru found me..

I never had those transcendental experiences you talk about... Mine was gradual, and sort of mundane, and it took years to get beyond my skepticism...and I always questioned... and more as Siddha yoga grew... The incredable wealth being generated and only going in one direction...The term seva was starting to get tarnished... but who am I to question.. this is still Kali-yuga.

I am still doing yoga but I am with Ammachi... I am sure you know who she is.. I get a pure feeling from her... unconditional love, her work around the world is pure devotion and all the money that is generated goes to charities for building hospitals, orphanages, schools, feeding people.. all the things that need to be done to make a diference... As I said before, I have learned a great deal from Baba and Gurumayi and Yes it takes years to come out from child abuse and many times too, the stories and perceptions are false... If these people are making claims, are they filing lawsuits?, how can they possibly be substantiated ?... There are a lot of things I can believe but sexual abuse is not one of them... what else is there really to say...

WE all saw what happened in Poona, and in Oregon, and even now my sister is with a sorcerer who calls himself an enlightened being.... I hope everyone works things out and can take responsibility for where they were at..as adults.. but those sinister allegations about Baba, I will never believe...I am sorry...

Response:

I read the New Yorker article as well as the CoEvolutionary article several times because I just couldn't believe, I didn't want to believe it. But it was the last thing that I did have to believe. That Muktananda, despite all his power and charisma, was flawed. That he was flawed is not an issue, we are human beings are we not? That he took advantage of his position of trust, is a sin. That he lied about his "state", is his ego.

I can't get angry at the magazines, they are just reporting what they found. You know they can't print anything that is the least bit inflammatory without going over it very carefully. That means they were willing and able to go to court and back it up. It also means that the women interviewed were willing to do the same thing! And SYDA never sued either publication.

I don't believe the victims of the abuse are required to file law suits nor are they required to come forward in any way. They have done their part by speaking with the magazines. I think people just do not appreciate the trauma of sexual abuse. Please read what I have written about this. (See The Dynamics of Sexual Abuse under Articles). How do we know that SYDA hasn't been sued? Don't you think that one of the conditions would be non disclosure, in an out of court settlement?

So, then what? Do we put the fear of looking at the possibility of the truth aside because it's too much of a disappointment? I did for years. It was hard enough with all the problems from Nity jr and Childvilas. But those problems actually reflected back on Muktananda, do they not? He's the one who put them on the throne, setting aside $1 million each in an account for them so if the people didn't come and see them, they would be taken care of. The money issue aside, why did he feel the possibility of a low turn out? What did he know that we didn't?

I had wonderful and transcendental experiences with Muktananda. I also had them with Nity and Childvilas. Then I went and saw Nity after he left SY. It was very empty. The point being, just because you had great experiences or loved Baba, as it is clear that you do, doesn't mean these things couldn't have happened.

And what does a child, or adult, do when they have been betrayed? There are a number of things you can do. And I'll be the last person to tell you how to live your life. Living my life, without accepting the truth, when the truth is so evident, is living a lie. Believe me, I never went out looking for the rumors. But when they came, I could only ignore them for so long.

I am happy indeed that you have continued in a spiritual path. I have as well. I have learned a great deal about what a spiritual group should not be. Maybe with that, I can proceed just a bit more slower and with a bit more caution.

Regards,

Pendragon

This was received 21 Jan 97:

Just a note of thanks from a recently decided ex-devotee (first time I've written that!) for the energy and fairness you are obviously putting into organizing this site. I felt myself being slowly disconnected from SY over the last decade without any real focus to the disconnection. On the outside I was keeping up my sadhana, but not in any meaningful internal sense. I was uneasy with things, but largely ignored it.

I was discussing some of the issues raised in this site with a friend when it suddenly hit me how much similarity there is between the stories on this site -- their variation, anger, pain, humor and above all, raw honesty -- and the stories and sharings that were around in the earlier days of SY, particularly the late 70s and early 80s when I first became involved. It was the honesty and rawness of people's experiences as they began their inner searching that attracted me to SY as much as the remarkable details and apparent achievement of Baba. I recognize now that part of my uneasiness with SY was the loss of that 'innocence' that accompanied the early days -- gloss and PR had become the spectacles through which the world was defined. Everything has to fit a certain mould now. It's the lies, both blatant and subtle, that have offended me. I guess I feel that I gained much from SY, especially initially. I think I would have been very receptive to honest explanations, but any relationship that is based on deception has nowhere to go.

Anyway, mainly I really only wanted to say thanks to you, offer encouragement and point out the paradoxically similar dimension between the stories on this site and early SY stories.

This was received 21 Jan 97: (response has been added 23 Jan 97)

I have been browsing your web site and listening to what people have to say about Siddha Yoga. I feel for these people who have had such disturbing experiences.

I know that wherever you find a group of people, you will find different universes of individuals, strong and weak ego's, eccentric and manic characters, calm and gentle types, people go to the Ashram for many reasons, maybe because they are lonely or even to find a wife or husband (!) - each person goes to the Ashram for different reasons and to gain different things. If the Ashram does not fulfil these Œthingsš that they want from it, then why do they blame the Ashram? Isn't it their own disappointments that they are responding to? Most things that happen in the world can also happen in an Ashram, and any kind of person in the world could also be found in the Ashram. Why doesnšt the foundation remove destructive people? Well, when the people who are not conducive to the Ashram life are asked to go home (obviously people have different views of what is and is not acceptable, and these views will vary, naturally, what people think is acceptable in the Ashram will be different) and after many opportunities these people are asked to leave, they write their resentments and feelings of rejection to you. The Ashram is a place where dharma is upheld, and if people are not dharmic, then is it surprising that they are asked to leave or leave of their own accord?

People grow up with all levels of accepted abuse, so it is very much a matter of learning right from wrong, dharmic from non-dharmic for much of their lives.

Most people come to Siddha Yoga with individual expectations of Gurumayi and Her devotees. Are we not all learning how to BE, as Zen Buddhism would say? Do you expect that people are instantly perfect (according to your own view of perfection) once they have received shaktipat? Spiritual awakening reveals not only the inner divinity of heaven but also inner hell. It is revealed so, as individuals, we decide for ourselves which we would choose to turn to.

Many people come to the Ashram with expectations of themselves too. Many people think that they should slave away at seva (voluntary work), when seva supervisors ask if you are rested and specifically state not to do seva when you are tired. Sometimes there are people who live out their tyrant-boss-drama, as seva supervisors, but does that mean that you cannot tell them that you would like to rest? Does anybody say that you are not allowed an opinion? In my experience, I have learnt more to trust my own opinion through Siddha Yoga.

As far as giving all your money to the Ashram, why would you do that? How would you live later? The Ashram is not a retirement home, why would you expect the foundation to take care of you in old age? When you give, isnšt it right that you give freely without expectations? Do you want the Christmas present you gave to be given back because you didnšt get one? And if you cannot give freely, then do not give.

I know people who have left SY for their own reasons and I respect that Gurumayi is not everybody's Guru. Different paths are for different constitutions. Isnšt this kind of attack on a spiritual path the reason for all the war of mankind? How can we ask for world peace when we cannot accept our neighbouršs spirituality, especially if we find faults in it? Could you not find faults in all lifestyles, but does that mean you should judge it and condemn it?

I know that when a positive statement is repeated to oneself, the effect of it is transforming. And when a negative statement is repeated the effect creates disease and mental anxiety. This is obviously why it is helpful to not echo the things which devotees have done. Siddha Yoga has never asked me to suppress my thoughts, and when thoughts and my life experiences have been negative, I have learnt that these situations of my life have been the strongest lessons. It has always been inspiring and undeniably helpful to look for the best in every opportunity. Often it is our own understanding of learning to drop anger and negativities where we think that we should be suppressing them. It is not about suppressing them, it is a matter of dropping them, if we cannot, then there is more to learn from it. Recently in South Fallsburg, anyone who had questions about rumors where invited to be open and ask questions, and when people voiced their negative feelings, the responses were helpful and were not brushing the negativities aside. Of course, someone elsešs answer is not your own answer, but it helps when you hear someone else's experience. I also know people who have had Œcommands' from Gurumayi through Darshan secretaries, only to later find out that it was not what Gurumayi had said after all! And I have found that this is where onešs own experience becomes an important factor in your participation of Siddha Yoga meditation.

I understand what is said when referring to Jesus and the His downfall by one of His own devotees. Was it not the very blood of Jesus that was given to the one who would destroy Him? All I can say really, whether I disagree with you or not about Siddha Yoga, is that we must live by our own experience, and if these are your true experiences, then it is what you must listen to, but it is not what we all must listen to. Just as I know that the press writes non-truths about many people and occurrences, why would it be different for what is becoming a very well known yoga? I have my own experience of Gurumayi from inner and outer realms, regardless of what anyone says to me, I trust Her and welcome Her in my life.

Response:

I have read your E Mail and have some thoughts. What do you really feel for these people who have been hurt by their association with siddha yoga? It seems you have contempt rather than compassion; anger rather than love and judgment rather than understanding. Why is this?

Of course, where ever you go, you will find a variety of people. And yes people approach anything in life with a variety of reasons. That is very normal. I have never heard people blaming the ashram for not finding them a partner, as you suggest for a reason that some use for going to the ashram.

So you ask why are people angry and disappointed? Did you really read the stories? I doubt that you read them with an open mind, or an open heart. The vast majority of the stories here are vulnerable sharings of disillusionment in something that pretended to be what it is not. Am I disappointed? Of course. Am I angry? Not so much anymore. You see the problem is that the whole place is built on a series of lies. Muktananda, if you are able to accept this, was molesting young girls. There is just too much evidence to suggest he was not. Why did siddha yoga present both Chidvilasananda and Nityananda as perfected beings when they were not? Why did Chidvilasananda try and keep her brother on the throne as an enlightened siddha guru when he wanted to step down? Why did Chidvilasananda reward people for harassing her brother? Why did she get rid of George, a sex offender (who also molested underage girls) just before the New Yorker article come out? Why did Chidvilasananda fire all the gay and lesbian hatha yoga teachers? Why does having money give you "special considerations"? (Did you know that it was one person’s seva to be in charge of taking care of all the rich devotees when they visit South Fallsburg?) Because siddha yoga is built on a foundation of lies, there can be nothing but problems. Because siddha yoga pretends to be perfect, and it is not, it will collapse someday. It is inevitable.

As for standing up for yourself in seva and giving away all your money, it appears that you are absolutely right. However, there is a subtle yet very powerful pressure to give and give and give of your time and of your money. Over the years the pressure of dakshina has grown immensely. People are subtly rewarded with special seva positions when they donate large amounts of money. This creates a real problem as syda wants the local center to give the donator a "special position" or seva and in reality that person is just a bit cracked. So the center gives them the position, not always knowing why syda wants them to have it and all hell breaks loss. I’ve seen it time and time again. And if you can’t give money, you can always give time. It’s not until you really get involved in doing seva are you really accepted and approved of, whether it’s at the local level or the national level. Then there is the fast track. Do enough seva, talk good, dress the right way and before you know it you’re being considered for leadership training and the steering committee or whatever. Is this really the way a spiritual community should run?

Who said anything about starting a war? I don’t think there is anything in the site about war except what you have said? Are YOU thinking of starting a war? Can you not stand the right of freedom of speech? So when people say things you don’t agree with you threaten them? If anyone has attacked anyone, it has been devotees of siddha yoga physically attacking Nityananda Jr.!

Why do you consider what is send here as negative statements? What if it’s the truth? Is it still negative? I would agree talking about sexual abuse and emotional abuse is distasteful and painful. But does that mean we should stop talking about, hoping it will go away? That is exactly what siddha yoga wants you to do: Stop thinking and talking about anything that is negative to their image.

Did you know that the answers to the questions are practiced and written in advance? That the people who answer the questions are trained how to deflect the questions. I attended one of those once and I was amazed. The MC simply said, "That was not my experience" and that was that. Another favorite was, "I was there but did not see or experience any of what you say". Do you know what a sound bite is? It’s a one or two line statement designed to make a point and move on. There is generally some degree of truth, but it is so broad that it simply covers up the real issues. Did you know that Chidvilasananda has had some of her staff take college courses in how to present sound bites? I wonder why?

Let me end by saying one more thing. There was a time in my life when I felt as you did. I spent many many years in siddha yoga. I knew muktananda. I lived in the ashram. I went to Ganeshpuri. I took my practices very seriously and considered myself a true devotee, as it seems you do. I never looked for problems in siddha yoga and ignored the ones that were presented to me. After such a time, I could no longer live the lie.

Pendragon

This was received 20 Jan 97:

Thank you for this Web site. The stories are having their affect. I don't know where I will actually leave or not but this site will definitely get me to tone it down.

Response:

You are quite welcome. I'm glad the stories and articles have been helpful. It is quite a process, looking at one's involvement in something that has meant so much in your life. What's important to remember though, that if you do leave, you will be ok. And if you decide to stay, you now have more information that may help you take care of yourself there, not be taken advantage of, etc.

Pendragon

This was received 19 Jan 97:

FYI, I'm the author of the "story" that begins "In 1977, I was an 18-year-old freshman..." When I read the *first* "Darshan" update, I emailed my friends: What does "This is a divine decision of the shakti made for divine reasons" mean? The *only* meaningful translation I can fathom is "Gurumayi wants to do it, & she doesn't want to explain why."

This was received 17 Jan 97:

Long-term Siddha Yoga does not lookout for the welfare of it's follower's. (My sister would question the use of the word follower because she insists that it is not a religion but a way of life. Go figure.) I went to NY to check the place out. Gurumayi's place was beautiful, so was the great hall and the "temple to Shiva". The places where the visitor's stayed was retched. Very old and unclean. Most of the people I met seemed lost in life and had no direction as if they were living in their own sheltered world. Safe from the outside. I heard everything for problems from family life (acceptance or austrasization) to I am waiting for Gurumayi to tell me what to do with my life, to tell me if I should divorce my husband, etc. What to do???

This was received 17 Jan 97:

Do you know anything regarding a Guru who calls himself Ganapati. He claims to have been initiated by Muktananda.??? Please help me if you can.

Note:

If anyone knows about Ganapati, please pass it on and it will be forwarded.

Pendragon

This was received 15 Jan 97:

I just wanted to say that I think the Personal Stories of Leaving Siddha Yoga is a great idea. The ones I read were constructive and honest, and I think that's important if people in Siddha Yoga are going to listen, and to help those thinking of leaving find the courage to leave. They have to hear it from others who sound intelligent, and have come through it. Sometimes the joking around on AOL Ethics is not constructive (although I understand it helps people cope), but a "brainwashed" devotee would see it as vulgar and use it to confirm the ashram's stories that those who leave are less than human.

The opportunity to write our own story anonymously allows the Siddha Yoga devotees to see it (if they dare). The truth cannot be denied and will haunt them. And it helps us by having it recorded, putting to death the lies the ashram told.

So thank you for the idea.

This was received 15 Jan 97:

When I first left SY, I was concerned that I was going to become a sort of "negative devotee," obsessing on how horrible it is, referring to it in memory constantly. The stories and the information on this site are really empowering... I guess what I'm getting at is that one has to be careful that ex-siddhahood doesn't become a religion also. I think that the red flag for me was the update on darshan and Gurumayi's back problem. Sure, it's interesting how SY pumps out conflicting stories, and it's important to note it, but ultimately, do we really care?

I just wanted to share this. I fully support what you're doing.

RESPONSE:

Thank you for your note. You raise an important point I think: do we stay connected to SY by talking about it, running it down, and gossiping about how bad things were / are? I believe one has to be careful so that it doesn't become that. I think, for me, I have made a decision to publish information, past and present that shows the problems and contradictions to those that may be interested. It seems there are those who simply walked away. Then there are those who are not sure of where they stand.

For them (and you and I were once one of those) I believe the more information that is available the easier it is to come to the conclusion that you and I have come to: That SY is a very dysfunctional place and the best thing to do is get out. This comes after many long years, in my case, of confusion and attempts to find the truth. I would have left even sooner had I read all that is here today. There is just too much to ignore. Then there is the rebuttal that "there used to be problems in SY, but george and the brother are gone now and everything is ok". Then there are the people who are thinking about getting into SY. I know of several who choose not to enter any further after reading all the critical essays and stories about them. So, in the end, we all do what we must to come to terms with our past and our present. I appreciate your thoughts and your support.

Pendragon

Response:

Pendragon: I see what you mean. There are those people who aren't sure if they really have the power to leave SY, worrying about being struck dead by the wrath of the guru, even though their gut feeling is that the place is full of imposters. For me, it was a lot of little things that rubbed me the wrong way. I remember chanting the gurugita and always tripping over the line that said something about drinking the water that drips off the guru's feet. That's more than a little sick... it's just plain gross.

I've kept a journal my whole life. During my siddha days, I always allowed myself to air my doubts out in it. One day, I just took stock of it all, and gave myself a break. I decided that a little vacation from siddha yoga was in order. It felt good to be out in the open again, and when I saw that I wasn't going to be killed because of it, I was able to modify the "little vacation" idea into an outright critical attitude toward the organization.

This was received 25 Jan 97:

Response:

It was really nice to see our dialogue up there on the comments board. A little boost to the ego (which is not so evil after all!) You really are a bit of a spiritual revolutionary. Do you like Krishamurti? I read him a lot before my SY days. He was SO opposed to the spiritual life as a daily grind. In many ways, I think his ideas about living free are unfeasibly anarchistic, but they are good for a shake up now and then -- just like the Leaving Siddha Yoga website! What's happening here is great: everyone encouraging each other to live more and more out in the open, where the possibilities for growth are. I loved what that person said in the comments about how the Leaving Siddha Yoga Site is compelling in the same ways that SY itself was before the veneer of glamour oozed over the true human variety, raw honesty, and longing for personal truth that everyone evidenced. It makes me think of a quote by Arthur Rimbaud: "Let us welcome all the influxes of vigor and real tenderness." The spiritual path is about passion. Siddha Yoga is about being good boys and girls.

This was received 12 Jan 97:

It's REALLY a wonderful thing you're doing. I was involved for about a year, living in the hotel across the street from the Manhattan ashram. A lot of the things the ex-devotees say in these stories ring so true. I just remember the incredible energy that had to go into repressing awareness of the bullshit going on in that place on a daily basis.

Maybe some day I'll write up a story and send it to you. I must say, it has been SO much fun seeing people call Gurumayi "a fake and a phoney" in print. We've all come so far from the those days of chanting and ass-kissing.

Peace to You! Happy New Year!!

www.LeavingSiddhaYoga.org

 

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