Comments & Responses - March 1997
This was received 28 Mar 97 from the Internet Service Provider that hosts this web site:
What are your opinions on the Heaven's Gate cult who all killed themselves in San Diego? I am preparing a series of editorials from the industry and I'd like your input as someone who combats the dangers of cult organizations.
Thanks very much.
This was received 30 Mar 97:
I just got back from the east coast. You were one of the first people I thought of when the news on Rancho Santa Fe's tragedy hit. I hope to see some dialogue on all of it at Leaving Siddha.
Hope you're doing well. Will write again soon.
This was received 30 Mar 97:
To open up the necessary & inevitable conversation re: the San Diego mass suicide tragedy--
Surely some good can come out of this if it encourages people to ask some big questions. If we accept a guru or teacher, we must ask ourselves, "What if the guru encourages a harmful action?" If we avoid this question, we not only invite tragedy, but deprive ourselves of a powerful learning opportunity. Asking this question helps us face the even more fundamental question, "What is *most important* in living my life & relating to others?"
For me & the group I practice with, the answer is clear. Teachers make mistakes, & when they do, it's the job of the students to honestly & compassionately let them know.
Heaven's Gate, A Warning to us All. Press HERE.
This was received 28 Mar 97:
Unfortunately, your story really hit home since I am currently in the process of "losing" a friend to SY. This friend was having to make some hard choices in life, so instead, she is now quitting her job, ending a relationship, selling her house, and moving to the Ashram in India for an indefinite time (until Gurumayi tells her otherwise). I know that I can't prevent this but is there some way I can bloody well make her THINK.....It's really frustrating to see a bright talented person "sell their soul" in this way....Any help would be
I am very sorry for the loss of your friend. The truth is there is not much you can do about it. It would appear that she has taken a bigger step into the mire. Being in India, a completely foreign culture and in the country at that, she will be even further isolated from a rational world.
You may try giving her some of the articles that you have read here. The O Guru article (I am attaching a copy) is the singular most important written. Be prepared though for a strong negative reaction to it, if she reads it at all.
You may wish to keep in contact by sending letters (DO NOT SEND MONEY) talking about the world from your point of view, sharing what is going on in your life and your friends lives. Perhaps talking about things you shared with her, before she went into SY, will provide a link.
It may take months or years if your friend ever comes out. By providing a support now, she may then have someone to turn to then.
There is an other side of all this. You will likely be subjected to all the one liners of Siddha Yoga speakese. Only you can decide how much of it you can put up with.
This was received 27 Mar 97:
I went to one syda meeting and wanted to know more about them. I have had the been there-done that experience already (at Kripalu).
I thought perhaps Syda would be different. I see it is the same. Different name, same problems. I started on the AOL post and saw references to this web page.
Great job of supplying information and options.
I intend to monitor this page and your resources in the future. I am looking for answers why I began my journey and find all of this very helpful. It is also helping me heal from the loss of my guru at Kriplau. The ashram told him to leave due to his sexual misconduct.
They are now healing and regrouping as more of a program center.
I chose my name "gurusue" as a joke, it was a name that was not used by anyone else on AOL and it was very late at night. The more I use it, the more I understand "I am the greatest teacher of Sue that I will ever meet". I am
Thank you for your note. Yes, it is sad that there are many different groups that put themselves up on the pedestal, with our help of course, and guess what? They are human too. If I've learned anything, it's that.
This was received 26 Mar 97:
The Sad Guru Lila:
Well, I finally spent the evening reading some of the stories on the Leaving SY website and I must say that while there were no great surprises there, it did confirm some of my suspicions about the "mysterious ways of the guru."
There is a sick and twisted game that Gurumayi and her SYDA cronies play on a lot of people. It's a rather two-dimensional game really, having little to do with any higher states of consciousness, but it allows those who "master" it to get away with anything in the name of their god, guru, or Self. Once one understands this little game, a lot more of SYDA yoga becomes clear--especially how the longtime devotees and swamis can maintain their positions of complacency and power--and it goes something like this:
OK, we keep telling you in THE TEACHINGS that you are sublime, that you are the all-powerful and all-knowing Self, that you are Divine, that you are One with the Guru. All your worth, all of your meditative experiences, all your joy, all your bliss of "attainment," any feelings of self-worth that you have should come [or have already come] from this KNOWLEDGE of the Self, and you should know this by now. You therefore will be tested, periodically and mercilessly, to see if you "get it." OK, ready? Here comes the test: You are a lowly worm! You are the lowest of creatures! You are the puniest and weakest of the lowly! You will forever have to dwell in a waterless region!
You stink! You have never done anything right and probably never will! You will never amount to anything and never have been any good; you come from a long line of worthless no-goodnicks, your friends are no-goodnicks too, and if you ask them for support that only makes you more of a lowly no-goodnick worm, etc., etc., etc.....
OK? Are you happy yet? Are you blissed out yet? What do you want? More carrot or more stick? You can continue to take the abuse or you can thank me for it by showing me (when I am ready to acknowledge it and not before) that you are ready to do my bidding by abusing others at my whim so that they too may see the greater glory of their own Self when the abuse cannot really affect them! If you prove yourself worthy, you will be given all sorts of abusive things to say and do to other people in the name of this Higher Knowledge. Nothing will shake you from your faith because you have already transcended the meager part of you that can be insulted (and I will continue to test you from time to time to prove it!). Ready? Ok, call so-and-so and tell him/her that he/she is the lowliest of the low, and then while you're at it, remind them of the dakshina that they should be gladly paying to the Guru to help redeem them. This is part of your test so you'd better get it right!
All of my closest disciples <read stooges> have to pass this test and, in fact, they do so every day! But YOU are as great as THEY are, aren't you? Once you accept this logic, you can go out and lie, cheat, and even steal with impunity and karmic immunity, knowing that it is all God's play and that your True Self cannot be hurt or touched by this! How about proving it right now by burning your diaries or other most cherished, sentimental, or valued items on the fire of the ego? Don't want to? Oh, you wretched lowly worm!
So much ego still inside you. Only when you have given this up can you fully appreciate the great gift of Divine immunity and impunity that I have to bestow on you.
Oh, and by the way, if you have a lot of money to give, and if you spend enough (and only we can tell you how much is enough) at the bookstore and on courses and in dakshina, then you will be spared some of this burning and be able to fly in the fire-free skies of Special Consideration! But don't forget, that's just an illusion too--when I have you wound around my finger tightly enough, you will take abuse from me even after paying me all your money because you will be freed from the power of my (or anyone else's) abuse or even intelligence--because, remember, the mind is such a terrible thing to waste one's identity over! I know you don't want to be stuck in the mind ever again! Don't worry, when you really get it, none of this will be able to hurt you any more at all. OK? Good! NOW, you've got it! You're free! Now you can even laugh at your own and all the other egos with us! There's no harm in it because all that sentimentality and pain only exists at the level of the mind and WE now know that that isn't real, right! Of COURSE we do!
SGNMKJ!! Let's meditate...
For those who understand how this game works, literally nothing in the ashram can hurt them...
For those who understand how this game works, will have left. Why would they want to stay?
This was received 22 Mar 97:
I have only recently discovered your web site. Perhaps we have met. I left Siddha Yoga 11 years ago after spending four years following Gurumayi and Nityananda around.
I now live in Belgium and would like to know how I can obtain a copy of the New Yorker article. I never knew it existed until I found your site! I knew about all the stuff that was going on in Siddha Yoga, but have never really discussed it.
One day I just told Gurumayi that I was going off to college and never came back. I was surprised to hear, several years later, that Hemananda had told a friend of mine (who used to be "on tour" with the gurus) that I was saying bad things about Siddha Yoga. The only thing I ever said back in '86 was that George had had Scott beat the shit out of me in Ganeshpuri (it was the week that Nityananda abdicated). The irony is that at the time, I thought I had had it coming to me. George later told me that it had been for my own good and was meant to teach me the error of my ways. I actually accepted this. Some of us used to worship George!
Anyhow, please tell me how I can get a copy of the New Yorker article.
P.S. Why don't more people on your site talk about the beatings that went on in the ashram?
Thank you for your note. I have attached the O Guru article as you have requested. Hope you "enjoy" it.
Your name does not ring a bell, I was in SY from the late 70's until about a year or so ago. (I'm a slow learner).
There has not been much about the beatings because people have not spoken about it. Perhaps you would like to add the *truth* here by sharing your story? You'll be glad to know that George is out of the picture - he became a liability with the publication of O Guru and out he went.
Welcome to the site, hope to hear from you,
This was received 24 Mar 97:
This is just a quick note to thank you immensely for both sending me the article and for your web site. I stayed up all night reading and remembering. I guess I never really dealt with my feelings about Gurumayi and Gurudev until now.
I have a lot I would like to write about. For example, how I actually became a worse person after getting close to the gurus. Before that, I was really a sincere seeker.
Right now I have to perform some selfless work for my family, but I want to tell my whole story eventually. Perhaps I can help stop another 17 year-old close-to-the-guru wanabe from becoming a monster. Anyway, that's my story.
I'm glad the information has been helpful to you. It is supportive to find others who are going / have gone through the same process of untangling from the spiders web.
We look forward to hearing more from you. The more takes we have on why individuals have left Siddha Yoga, the larger the variety of people we can reach.
This was received 26 Mar 97:
I wanted to respond to the comment from Rob in Belgium regarding beatings in the ashram. I am so glad he wrote his post because these kinds of things must be brought forward by those who went through them. There is nothing better than a first hand description.
I knew someone who was a very old timer who lived in Ganeshpuri for many years and was eventually sent away by Baba, as a "command" to live in the world. I will not name this person, because he told me this information in friendship and I always liked him. He was always kind to me. However, I will repeat what he said. He is still a devotee as far as I know.
He told me that when he was in Ganeshpuri he had the seva of "roughing up" devotees who were "out of line." He got orders directly from George, who got his orders directly from Baba. He was sent to various places around the country to "rough up" different devotees, "usually swamis or center leaders who were acting too much like they were the guru." My friend said, "Of course, all I ever did was rough them up verbally. I never beat them. I don't know what anyone else did when they were sent out. But I just yelled at them, and tried to get them to wake up to how they were disrespecting the guru." Laughing slightly embarrassed, he said, "I don't know why Baba chose ME for this kind of seva." He said he did it because he was told it was a command from the Guru.
I have no reason to not believe my former devotee friend. I am sure the term "rough up" could be interpreted quite freely by those who had this type of seva. He said the people roughed up were only devotees whose ego was out of line. He gave an example of a swami sitting in the guru's chair and giving darshan.
I am sharing this, because this story was told to me by a sincere devotee who actually did this seva. I was asked to keep it highly confidential due to the sensitive nature of it. "Most devotees wouldn't understand it, " he had said. Interestingly he had shared it with me as he tried to understand Umeshananda's actions towards me. My friend said he never had to "rough up" anyone like me who hadn't acted out of line and whose ego wasn't out of control. And yet he was "sure" Umeshananda would never dare to do anything like this without the Guru's permission.
Needless to say, it wasn't very comforting!!! The final advice my friend gave me was to have faith in the Guru.
I do hope Rob writes up his story for the website, and I do hope anyone else out there who was physically beaten, sexually abused, or abused or mistreated in any other way writes their stories.
This was received 18 Mar 97:
I'm glad that all this stuff is in one place! One comment on the page, though... the blue and green buttons on the left (Articles, Books, etc.) are extremely difficult to read.
Thanks for pulling this all together.
This was received 22 Mar 97:
The buttons come up as a vivid green-blue mix, and it is extremely difficult to read the letters. I have not had trouble with many web sites, so I think it is not me... but on the other hand, if it all looks ok on *your* monitor, then it may be me after all!
I never understood exactly what it meant to be a *member* of SYDA, since Gurumayi stopped doing any sort of formal initiation. (If SYDA had offered initiation, I would have become an initiate years ago.) I spent quite a lot of time at the ashrams in Fallsburg and Boston. but was never involved in either community beyond doing a little seva. Since the scandal(s), I have stayed away. I miss the chanting, I miss having a place to go for holidays like Mahashivaratri, I especially miss meditating and chanting the Gita with a group of like-minded souls. I don't miss the gurucentric culture of SYDA... my chanting the Gita was always around an image of serenity dancing creation in a ring of fire, not around a woman in an orange hat. Just me. I never quite got on board with the guru trip, at SYDA or at Kripalu. So I was not as devastated as others when the respective gurus fell from grace.
I've viewed the web site from several different monitors with different resolutions and have never had the problem you describe. I use a 17" at 1152 x 864 at 16k colors. Perhaps if others have the same problem you describe they will let me know. Just so you know, there is no green in the buttons; rather they fade, from left to right, light blue to dark blue. The type is black.
I think the individual decides if they are a member of SY. In SY terms, if a person does an intensive and gets "shaktipat" (although an intensive is NOT necessary for shaktipat but they would prefer you take it as they get $400 in return) they would be considered a "member". I would think that SY considers shaktipat as initiation. Whether Shaktipat is a valid spiritual practice or initiation is a discussion that we could have at great length. I will say that SY is not the only group that practices Shaktipat.
That you miss many of it's practices, I might venture to say that you were a part of SY. I think that people get involved for different reasons and for different degrees of attachment. That you did not get SO attached to the form of the Guru, did indeed save you some grief when it came time for the great disillusionment.
In the end, only you can decide if you were affiliated with SY.
This was received 17 Mar 97:
What a site! I've had fantasies of running a site very much like this one. I'm relieved (and a little jealous) that I don't have to be the one to make it happen! ;)
I'm being a little flip, because the truth is I feel very split reading the stories and articles on this site. Most of the articles I've seen, and I've participated in the AOL board discussions. But the old wounds open, and the upwellings of outrage and pain and anger upset me. Mostly what I decry is the time, effort, and sincerity I "wasted" (note this is how I feel, not necessarily "what is") on an enterprise that for about ten years seemed almost unspeakably beneficial but which now is increasingly revealed to be almost unspeakably evil. The "E" word is provocative and controversial, agreed, but that is how it feels to me. Against life and truth in the guise of being for life and truth - that's how I would define "evil".
The stories, and the memories they trigger of all my years of deep involvement in this growing evil, agitate deep layers in me. The story of my involvement with and eventual disengagement from SY I have emailed at length to a few people, and if a real need is expressed I may tell it again on this page. The split I feel is that I am, after a ten-year hiatus, gaining momentum in my personal and professional adult life, and delving back into the insanity of my "devotional" years is like falling asleep and having the same dark dream all over again. Which in fact what has been literally the case for me: my most common recurring dream is feeling lost and helpless in the midst of the Siddha "community", with its endless preparations for endless "darshans" and "celebrations". What is vaguely encouraging about these dreams is that I am slowly speaking up more, showing more anger, rejecting more inexplicable "sevas" and glutinous love-bombs from these ephemeral, spectral characters (some I recognize, most I do not).
Shouldn't I just fix my focus on the future? I may succeed somewhat in my waking life, but my dreams take me back. Siddha Yoga is part of me (yuck!) and I can't just cut it off. In fact, it was the passion for cutting off part of myself (feelings I don't like, for the most part) that hooked me into the fake "perfection" that constitutes the Siddha Yoga belief system. As I see it more and more for what it is (and was for me), the deep feelings of shame for not wanting to grow up into my adult life arise again, and I hate them still. But at least I won't sell my soul to avoid them anymore.
I know now that love of denial is not love - it's denial. Siddha Yoga is about denial. Denial feeds insanity and madness at every level. After ten years, I feel like a connoisseur of insanity. Fortunately, I'm growing out of it.
I didn't witness very much obvious abuse as detailed in some of these letters and articles. I was a good boy, a low-level operative, a trusted ashramite, and even when I started really questioning, I was afraid to make any trouble. Sites like this are really important for those newly questioning to compare notes and develop courage to speak up and leave.
I don't believe anymore in a perfect God of undisturbed consciousness that I am supposed to "attain". I don't feel God's need in that paradigm, and I can't relate to a needless being. Now that I know more of my troubled relationship with human need, I know why I was once so attracted to the image of becoming divinely needless. And that is also why I had such trouble distinguishing real human needs from the demands of "guruseva". It seems to me now that seva is a good hiding place for good man-boys who are afraid to grow up and are ashamed of need.
I have a few stories, but most of my experience has been internal, not straightforwardly expressed in the moment that things occurred. As evidenced by my dream life, I am still digesting my relationship with the sickness that is "Guru Maya".
Sorry to get so dark, but the sense of suffocation I feel around any discussion of Siddha Yoga nowadays is rather intense for me.
P.S. Pendragon, may I suggest you divide your threads into a larger number of separate files? The huge thread files take several minutes to appear on my humble Mac IIci. Otherwise, a beautifully designed and conscientiously run site - my congratulations!
I'm glad I've helped bring your fantasies to life! You now a part of the site and are welcome to contribute at any time.I particularly like your definition of evil:
"Against life and truth in the guise of being for life and truth - that's how I would define "evil"." And with life there are degrees of gray.
I would strongly welcome your "story" of coming to and leaving Siddha Yoga. Each person's *truth* is as important as any other's statement. Your story may resonate for a reader in a way that no other may. So, if you are up to it, we would love to have your contribution.
BTW, I don't feel your comments as dark. Quite the contrary, I can personally relate to most of what you say and if feels like a relief!
I appreciate your suggestions, am always looking for ways to improve the delivery....it's an ongoing process.
Thanks again for your comments.
This was received 22 Mar 97:
>I would strongly welcome your "story" of coming to and leaving Siddha Yoga. Each person's *truth* is as important as any other's statement. Your story may resonate for a reader in a way that no other may. So, if you are up to it, we would love to have your contribution.
I am considering it. BTW, what's your story? Did I ever know you? I was known as "Prakash", from the Manhattan Ashram. Did you have a "nom de guru"?
Also, what is your sense of the risk in identifying myself? I am GotALife2 from the AOL discussions, and WAY back in 1994, I was the first one to throw a stone into the serene waters of yogaspeak and blissninnyism that was the AOL "Siddha Yoga" folder. My name then was "Dissent", no relation to the presently active "Dissent222" on the AOL folder. In the ensuing discussions among ex-devotees, there has been significant paranoia - do you find it justified?
>BTW, I don't feel your comments as dark. Quite the contrary, I can personally relate to most of what you say and if feels like a relief!
Well, I happen to feel very heavy and irritable at this point of my life, largely because so many "ideals" I believed in are actually lifeless and demanding images. My memories of my SY experience are seen through that lens, and I can be melodramatic when I sense an audience for my sturm und drang. As one of your story writers pointed out, the challenge is akin to recovering from alcoholism - the fear,judgement and hurt feelings of facing and engaging our emotional immaturity can seem unbearable. In SY, there was a continually multiplying range of options for "offering up" that pain in an oblivious, nonrelational, noncommunicative, and ultimately false way.
>I appreciate your suggestions, am always looking for ways to improve the delivery....it's an ongoing process.
I'm just learning HTML now, and I'm not sure if there is a way to make sure framed pages can keep the same proportions as the frameset, but if there is a way, both your page and the page I am working on for class could be easier to read. The important thing, though, is that you are always updating - that's what keeps a Webpage alive.
>Thanks again for your comments.
I don't believe we have known each other...never spent any time in Manhattan.
I've kept a low profile, in that I have not published my name here; who knows that may change some day. In general, I don't think you have much to worry about, especially if what you write is the truth! I've know others here and on aol that have used their real names and there has been no negative side effects. As SY does read both aol and the web, I think you would be considered persona non gratis if you went to the ashram...if that matters to you. There are those who keep their privacy as they may still have friends / family "inside" and don't want to lose contact with them.
Regarding the frame page sizes, it really depends on what size monitor you have and what resolution you are running. So while it may look ok on my monitor, other monitor sizes and resolutions will handle it differently. I'm not aware of anyway around that problem.
Hope to hear your story..
This was received 16 Mar 97:
First, let me thank you for the invaluable service of putting so much about SY all in one place.
You may use my name in attribution. I am not anonymous on the AOL board. I believe that it's important that some of us whom others in SY will recognize speak out, so that they know we're "real." I have had some twinges of trepidation from time to time regarding the possibility of reprisal from SYDA. However, to date, I have not so much as received a nasty e-mail from anyone. (Knock on wood!)
I came across this remarkable gem on the "Friends of SY" Page. What made me react to it so strongly was that it is essentially the response I received from an old friend who still participates in Siddha Yoga during a conversation we had last December. I believe his "understanding", and the response of the editor of the "Family and Friends of Siddha Yoga" website, bears consideration and dissection, revealing as it does SYDA speak/think in all its perversity.
BEGINNING OF QUOTED MATERIAL
Subject: Alternative site
I just discovered this web site, after "tuning into" a so-called "alternative" site several times: My exposure to the alternative site really jarred me.
I had heard of some of the accusations against Baba before, but not with such detail. I must say, that I felt that the testimony was credible.
I felt a little betrayed, because when I first became exposed to Siddha Yoga and Gurumayi, nine years ago, I scrutinized it very carefully for warning signs of cultism or corruption. I found none. I was also very aware that I wouldn't be attracted to a practice where the Guru was male. This is because I have very strong feelings about traditional, paternalistic religions. So, I was somewhat upset to see Siddha Yoga accused of so many things I thought it would be immune from.
However, it then occurred to me that the truth or falsehood of the accusations is some ways is irrelevant. I know that I had a number of enlightening, mystical experiences through Siddha Yoga. Even if Siddha Yoga itself isn't perfect, or isn't all it claims to be, those experiences were nevertheless real. And, I still have the vehicle by which to access them: myself.
God is within and available to each of us. And perhaps none of us is perfect, but that access is still there.
END OF QUOTED MATERIAL
This is a nine-year SY veteran who finds the "testimony" of this board to be "credible." Ill take this person (for readability, Ill use the masculine) at his word and assume that he essentially believes (among other things) that Swami Muktananda molested young girls; that Swami Chidvilasananda (aka Gurumayi aka Maltita Shetty) has wrested exclusive control of the SYDA organization and its fortunes from her brother, Swami Nityananda (aka Subhash Shetty, aka Venkateshwar Rao aka the current Mahamandaleshwar), in a ruthless power struggle; that Gurumayi actively abuses her devotees and allows her underlings to do the same in her stead; and that SYDA has actively covered up its scandals out of a multifaceted greed which aspires to the heights of PTLs time shares and Oral Roberts threatened "calling home." (Have I missed anything? Probably. Theyre likely cataloging the Seven Deadly Sins for the Great Spiritual Library, no doubt, with video demonstrations.)
JD says that, before getting involved with SY, he had scrutinized the organization for signs of cultishness and religious paternalism ,and believed that SY was "immune" to these things. Nevertheless, to have discovered what actually satisfies him as "credible" evidence to the contrary has caused him to feel only "a little betrayed." Are we the master of understatement here, JD, or are we just fooling ourselves?
JD deftly dodges the barking dogs of conscience, the trampling elephants of the gurus sense pleasures, content to consign these "accusations," these "little betrayals," to "irrelevance." He cites "a number of enlightening, mystical experiences through Siddha Yoga" which, to his satisfaction, countervail the molestation of young girls, the emptied lives and bank accounts of those sacrificed, and history rewritten to cover it all up. After all, what are these things but trivia, "unreal" and "outside his experience?" (And thank God for that, lest he be deprived his little shiver of shakti!) The devastating - and credible enough -experiences of others are of no consequence next to his own "real" personal enlightenment, his little sojourn into "mysticism." And, so what if SY is corrupt to the core: at least he has these little souvenirs of the "Journey to Joy," his own personal "access" through this marvelous "vehicle" (of the shakti)! So, on with the show!
"Perhaps none of us is perfect," he says. Then what the hell are you in it for, brother? The "perfection" of the guru is all, the everything, that SY has to offer! Its own literature says so! If you can come to the understanding that, just maybe, the guru is not, never was, "perfect," its just so much carnie entertainment (for you, at least; others not so much, eh?).
I ask you, JD, what good is your personal little nirvana in the face of so much betrayal? Would you happily drink out of the ashram toilets if the guru told you "enlightenment" flowed therefrom, knowing that perhaps she isnt perfect, and maybe the toilet water isnt either? What possible benefit have you gained that your own spiritual journey should be paid for, as you willingly acknowledge, in the currency of others suffering? You have the gall to assert that the abuse was "irrelevant" because you "got yours"?
The Editor of the "Family and Friends of Siddha Yoga" web site replies to JD:
BEGIN QUOTED MATERIAL
J. D. thank you for your frank comments and you reflections on your experience.
Baba tells us, "When Consciousness contracts itself it gives rise to different thoughts, different kinds of imagination. When there is imagination, there is a picture in the mind. According to what type of picture it is, a person experiences either joy or grief. Think about it. It is your daily experience. Due to the matrika shakti, this power of words, one is contracted, one becomes an ordinary person. ... It is the matrika shakti which also gives rise to the knowledge of duality, and due to that one experiences either delight or grief.... In the space of the mind the matrika shakti creates it own world. Then a person becomes bewitched by its creation. ...Day and night it creates so many feelings, so many different types of imagination. It never stops."
These quotes are from Baba on the power of words, and their effect on our minds. We felt it illustrated your experience when reading at the alternative site.
Many people come to Siddha Yoga with many different desires, with many different states of mind, and in search of many different things. When the Shakti enters into all these people it creates reactions which often will cause thoughts and mental patterns to become greatly magnified and agitated. This happens as the Shakti begins its process of purifying the mind. During that process many people have very different personal experiences within the realm of their own mind, and from their own particular mental point of view. They can even have "real" experiences in states of mind, other than the usual waking state.
As a result of this continuing process there are different people with very different stories as to the "truth" - all as a result of their personal experience. This is a powerful process and while the thoughts and experiences related can appear very logical and real, they can also be only an expression of a particularly unique, mental reality.
The process of the workings of the Shakti is a process of perfection in that it will ultimately lead a seeker to the constant awareness of the self. When one has obtained that awareness the notion of duality ceases, and one experiences ones own self - a perfect self within a universe of perfection.
We strongly feel that the only way to know who Baba Muktananda was and is, and who Gurumayi is, is to do Sadhana - to do spiritual practices. When one meets Baba and Gurumayi on the inside the truth of who they are becomes apparent. SGNMKJ!)
END QUOTED MATERIAL
Oh, I just want to *puke* when I read that all this "negativity" is the product of all the dirty little stuff that devotees bring to the guru, their "overactive minds," duality, imagination, the "contraction of matrika shakti," and even "personal experiences within the realm of their own mind." "Outside the waking state," the results of "personal experience" that "can appear very logical and real." Obviously, these girls DREAMED that Baba ritualized the molestation of young women in his ashram! Such terrible samskaras that they would have these experiences, even in the subtle form! Thank *God* they were cleansed under the loving caress of their guru! Who better to rid them of the traces of such terrible psychospiritual detritus but a shrivelled-up, diabetic, toothless adept! Yes, this is the only way to truly "know" Baba Muktananda! When the scales fall from your eyes, youll understand that all this abuse only prepared you for the sort of perfection enjoyed by your guru. Now, doesnt that make you feel better?
Well, JD, thank God your little impurities are being cleansed by gurus grace. Mind sharing some of your "enlightenment" with Babas victims? Would you have been so "equananimous" and "dispassionate" (and heres where SY gives these things the lie) had these things happened to one of *your* children? Oh, perhaps you dont have children, and its some other parents karma to have to deal with that. Theyll get over it, with gurus grace!
Thank you for your courage in signing your words with your own name. I also want to thank you for your analysis of the Friend of Siddha Yoga site [ Note: this site has been taken down when the web site by SYDA Foundation started. 21 July 98]. There is a lot to be learned by reading what they say. It's also amazing to see that many of us used to think and talk the same way. I believe that to truly leave Siddha Yoga, one must look at how our thinking was affected by being there.
BTW, if you get any harassing or threatening responses, please let me know. To date, I have gotten, and will continue to welcome, challenges from the pro sid's. If they take the time to read what is here and want to discuss it, I will respond in a like manner.
This was received 12 Mar 97:
One of the signs of being in a cult is not wanting to hear or look at or believe things that dont fit the point of view of the group.
Since leaving Siddha Yoga, I have had the opportunity to reflect upon communities and how they function. One aspect of a community that interests me is how an entire community could project its darkside onto one individual, thus alienating the individual and removing them from the community.
I have experienced this firsthand in a siddha yoga center, which I have documented in Personal Stories. Other ex-devotees have experienced it in the ashram. M. Scott Peck writes about this aspect of community in his book, The Different Drum. M. Scott Peck discusses how groups show a strong tendency to flee from troublesome issues and problems. "Rather than confront these issues and problems, groups will act as if they assume it is their purpose to avoid them." He goes on to say that often a group will label one individual sick, then ostracize them as a way to flee from the problems within the group. The individual who brings to light the problems in the group is thus scapegoated. He also talks about "pseudocommunity", which is a community where the problems of individual differences must be ignored., where individual pain is ignored, where the wide range of human emotions is not allowed.
The Different Drum is really about building a healthy community and SYDA would do well to learn to build an accepting community rather than scapegoat or alienate those who bring out the truth.
For those who were scapegoated or ostracized from the ashram, I think the same ideas apply on a larger scale. M. Scott Peck says it is very sadly true that the area where true community is most lacking is in spiritual communities. Imagine that - the place we go to with our hearts and souls is not healthy, is not accepting of us, and alienates those who in some way bring attention to the problems within the group.
This was sent 10 Mar 97:
I appreciate all your hard work compiling this site. What's ironic is that when I found it, I was actually surfing for any information about Siddha Yoga, because having been what I've jokingly described to my friends as, "a part-time member of a cult", able to overlook my doubts and discomforts (especially that of kneeling to a photograph on a chair, having been raised in a religion that completely forbids bowing to gods), I've worshiped Gurumayi since 1990. As a matter of fact, one of the first things I did after the New Yorker article came out was to perform seva at the first intensive that took place afterwards, in New York City (The intensive was a quite, somber ghost-town. This was one time in SY where no one seemed to mind my clowning around.) That was because I wondered whether the Guru was testing us, by "letting this article be published" to see who was devoted.
Then I logged-on to your site and started reading much information that had been intimated to me over the years, both by people in, out and never having been in SY. I had been a person on the fringe who had had some quite positive experiences with people close to Gurumayi herself and even with Gurumayi, in whose presence I always felt to overwhelmed to speak, except once.
I rarely knocked myself out with Seva, gave dakshina lightly, took a total of about 8 days worth of intensives, and mostly had a nice time. And yet, many times that I'd attend a center, S.F., or a special program, I would tell myself not to come back again; that it was too weird, too manipulative, too against my religion. And at one time, a couple of months after the New Yorker, I was offered a wonderful seva: to coordinate the translators during a program that Gurumayi would attend. I was flattered and overwhelmed, but turned it down, precisely because I felt I would be too near the "inner circle" from which I surmised might be too hard to escape.
I've been downloading your site and read it as if it were a juicy, trashy novel (please don't take offense). It's far, far stranger than fiction. First it felt like a crisis and then like a liberation. I mentioned the content to a friend who had been a devotee of Satchidananda and continues to practice his philosophies, but who stopped attending the ashram the day she was sent on a karma yoga mission to his residence and saw the various luxury cars he possessed. She told me it would be a shame to lose everything I had acquired spiritually just because of penetrating too deeply into the organization. What do you say about that?
In one moment of inner protest of this new experience, one of my inner voices said, "this is just happening because Gurumayi is testing us again," to which one of my other voices said, "you're deranged."
I can't say I will never return to a center or the ashram for a chant, a retreat, or to see friends. I was always a doubter, a questioner, something of a cynic. (Once, when I took off like a bat out of hell to follow Gurumayi to her residence after a program, along with dozens of others, one of those inner voices said to me "You're such a star f---er." To which the other voices responded, "and you're way too critical." [Don't worry, I've been through and graduated from 12 years with a pragmatic, non-new age, New York therapist.] ) But your material has helped to ground me in a rational approach. And maybe soon my photos and books will be gone, I will have found a new, self-directed path, and a lightness of heart and spirit not dependent on any outside philosophy. I still want to believe Gurumayi is a woman of awesome accomplishments. A role model. I think I'm learning something far more important, which is to possibly admire but never worship another human being (except, perhaps my Mom.)
Please excuse my ramblings. Just want to thank you.
Yes, I see you used the "C" word - cult. SY is a cult. There are different kinds, some worse than others.
I am not offended at your description, "juicy, trashy novel" as it is in some strange way, and at the same time I do not want to minimize the sexual and emotional abuse, that has abounded for years in SY and the pain it has caused.
Regarding your question:
"She told me it would be a shame to lose everything I had acquired spiritually just because of penetrating too deeply into the organization. What do you say about that?"
Can you be clear with yourself what it is you got from SY that was positive? One way to look at it would be how one deals with the ending of a personal relationship that has gone bad. It is easy to see the "faults" especially as one is leaving. Sometimes it is possible to go back and see the positive side of a "bad relationship" but one has to be very careful about this. It is often only in the final stages of healing one is able to do this, assuming there is anything positive in the first place.
I would not pretend to be able to tell you if there was anything positive there for you. Perhaps, in time, this will become clearer for you. Of course we don't want to admit that perhaps we spent months or years involved in a place that was a nightmare. Do I have positive memories of SY? Of course I do and I am very suspect of them at the same time.
Welcome to the site.
This was sent 28 Mar 97:
I was very pleased to receive your e-mail. I can really feel for you and others expressing their feelings on your and the ethics sites. An anecdote: I took my youngest sister, then in her early mid-20's to visit S.F. She was enthused about attending, but as soon as she walked into the lobby, she wanted to leave. At first I urged her to give it a chance. Then I said, "If you'd like, we can leave asap." But then, she insisted that we stay till the next day. She walked around, distraught from a broken relationship and vulnerable in general, crying, with a shawl over her head, looking like a typical devotee. Everyone was very pleasant as they passed her. That evening, a program in Muktananda Mandir. Because she is an artist and loves pagentry, and had also developed an affection for the pictures of Baba, she was a bit fascinated by the proceedings. A chant began and she started singing.
When I saw her head begin to sway, I panicked. I said, "M, I'm having severe stomach distress. Please come with me." I dragged her out and sat her in the amrit, where she watched a video of Baba . She cried and felt a lot of love. I returned and said to her, "If you had become hooked on this, Mommy and Daddy would kill me." She looked at me as if I were out of my mind and said that when the words had appeared on the screen, it was the first time she could participate and had wanted to please me.
Thought this might amuse.
Anyway, confronting the truth is never easy. What I got out of SY was a greater ability to express love and to get along with others. What I lost was the development of a healthy ego (or real knowledge of the Self, supplanted by false humility, manifested as letting people younger and stronger than myself through doors first, letting a kitchen manager throw a towel over a puddle on the floor with a defiant look like, "I dare you not to mop this up." (iI wondered what HER problem was), and many overwrought, polite manerisims.)
One of the great benefits of the liberation your site has provided is a sudden questioning of the authority and attitudes of aa sarcastic but affectionate father, a self-righteous stepfather, and others, all of whom offend and then verbally caress....Stop the Insanity!!!!
Thanks again. Happy holidays.
This was sent 10 Mar 97:
BEGIN QUOTED MATERIAL FROM DHARMA CAFE
Subject: Other Siddha Yoga Sites
I, too, was dismayed by the alternate SY site, until I actually sat down and read and read and read what these people had to say. After a time I became certain that if any "Truth" is being revealed by the rantings, it is very well hidden. Then I was amazed to come across an entry that referred to me, and the tiny Siddha Yoga community I participate in! The entry was so far removed from reality, so distorted from what actually occurred, that it revealed to me more about the demented state of the writer's mind than anything else People can say whatever they want on the Internet, you and I included. I am glad I came across such a personal reference because it helped me to clearly draw an inference about the rest of the postings. If this one posting could be so far removed from reality, maybe the other postings are equally suspect, maybe some of the people doing the writing also have major axes to grind. Maybe they, too, are lost in the Maya of their minds! But other people could read it and say, "How could people in Siddha Yoga do that to other people? What a horrible community! I had better stay away from there -they are terrible devotees!"
Gurumayi alluded to the Internet stuff during the Winter Retreat, and about the devotees who have left. She told us that they really haven't left the path. I've thought about this a lot. What did she mean? Could it be that the postings are part of their sadhana, part of their purification process?
Upon reflection I know that even if they think they have left our Path, they are still on the spiritual journey, still moving towards their ultimate evolution, towards divine consciousness - and with Gurumayi always offering her forgiving compassion.
I loved what she said during her New Year's message which was, "Those people think I am wild, I wish I could be wild but the managers won't let me. If I had my way, I would have a dancing Saptah every day!"
Wouldn't that be bliss?
In Her love,
END QUOTED MATERIAL
Reading the above words, I was reminded of the Common Boundary article where Nancy Baker , in response to attacks on her personal character after she told the truth about siddha yoga, said:
"It is very curious that all the letters Common Boundary received from Siddha Yoga ashram attempted to discredit me personally rather than honestly look at the issues I presented. This type of shaming is a common practice in this group. The longer I stayed in this environment and the closer I came to the "inner circle"; the more I saw how subtly repressive it was. If you had feelings of love and devotion and agreed with everything, life was wonderful. If you didn't agree with the way things were handled, you might be told you had no devotion, or favor would be withheld in some other way.
People notice what happens to the person who speaks out. Rather than discuss problems openly, people are thus encouraged to keep them to themselves so that they don't "poison others' sadhana [spiritual discipline]"; This attitude denies problems and socially isolates people."
My personal challenge is to not let letters like the one to Dharma Cafe upset me. I work to hold true to myself and the knowledge of the truth. I work to stay strong in the truth. In the long run, I do believe that honesty and courage prevail. I am finished defending myself from such ridiculous accusations by someone who was simply a SYDA puppet.
During the last 4 years since Umeshananda told me to leave siddha yoga, I have had my car vandalized by a devotee, and have had two other devotees proposition me sexually, assuming that I was sexually abused at the ashram and thus an easy target. Both of these incidents happened in the months after being kicked out of siddha yoga.
Last year, as I entered a new career and an exciting future away from siddha yoga, I found some of my business brochures that I placed in a public area in my neighborhood riddled with graffiti by the above individual who wrote to the dharma cafe. I purposely posted my brochure twice with witnesses available to observe whether he was in the area. He was frequently seen in the area of where my brochures were hung. The seemingly innocent email to the above dharma cafe is in such contrast to the cruel and sick graffiti, intended as an attempt to damage me professionally. I say "attempt" because the graffiti only showed the state of his spiritual attainment; meditating on hatred gets one nowhere. So in essence, his cruel attempt to damage me professionally only resulted in a public display of his own immorality.
This is not an individual I wish to tangle with. This is an individual with a dark shadow of hatred, fear and paranoia who truly believes I have done him wrong. I feel very afraid of him as a result and unfortunately we live in the same neighborhood. Such a person SYDA should be afraid of themselves in terms of their own reputation, rather than elevating him in power. I try not to focus on his presence in this drama, because he was not ordered by SYDA to act as he did. SYDA simply capitalized on his delusion - Umeshananda tossed him the ball and he went running and made a touchdown. I think even Umeshananda was pleasantly surprised. Umeshananda had been looking for some kind of dirt on me for over a year and had devotees in the center carefully watching me. It is no surprise that someone with no morals finally saw his chance for fame. In my mind I separate this individual's actions from SYDA, along with the other devotee's actions, knowing they acted as zealots and fools, following their own brand of spirituality.
This individual is a distraction from the real issue at hand which is the corruption of SYDA. I think it's important to make clear the YEARS of harassment by Umeshananda and SYDA that led up to what happened in the Columbia, Maryland center. I do believe I described to the best of my memory and understanding what happened in Columbia. At the same time, I am very aware that two individuals may have a personality conflict that results in what sounds like 2 different stories. Any marriage counselor can attest to that. And what happened in Columbia, Maryland was no more than a personality conflict that Umeshananda seized and allowed to turn into a charade of ridiculous attack against me. What might have been easily resolved with a mediator was turned into false accusations conveniently used against me. I was simply trying to resolve a conflict with him...why did that have to turn into a fiasco?
In the Columbia center I have no doubt that this individual perceived the situation differently. His statements about me at the time most likely came from his own projections of paranoia and hatred. The accusations were so ludicrous that many devotees knew the accusations to be false. Many devotees laughed at his accusations.
My intention to tell my story on the website was to describe the YEARS of abuse and harassment by the SYDA via Umeshananda. These years of harassment led to this individual in Columbia, Maryland to let his shadow, or dark side loose on me.
For me, however, Columbia is not the issue. The Columbia, Maryland center was used by SYDA and Umeshananda to do their final dirty work. It was the final convenient way to get rid of me. The devotees in the center were simply puppets in a grand play set up by Umeshananda. Lucky for Umeshananda, someone else did the dirty work. I think this is one of the dangers of siddha yoga, giving power to people who truly are unable to handle it, and who cannot be trusted to act morally.
I found it bizarre to hear that gurumayi said in a program that devotees havent really left the path. How right you are, gurumayi!!! They didnt leave on their own; you kicked them out!!! Many people have been kicked out and it is delusion to suggest that they left siddha yoga. The truth is that after having been told to leave, after much pain, they gave up the fight to stay.
I am beginning to understand that the devotees who are told to leave are the ones who are unable to delude themselves. They end up questioning SYDA and its practices. Anyone who questions SYDA in a clear and forthright manner is considered a threat to the organization and must be eliminated at whatever cost to the integrity of the guru.
And oh, yes, gurumayi, our spiritual lives do go on - and they go on in truth and honesty rather than delusion. Our spiritual lives prosper once we leave siddha yoga. I know mine has.
I really recommend the book Meeting the Shadow, a wonderful book about the shadow or dark side of the human psyche, the dark side of the guru, and the dark side of spiritual paths. This book helped me so much to understand how a spiritual path with such beautiful teachings could harass me so coldly for so many years as well as how I could allow them to do it.It also helped me to understand how one individual could come up with such bizarre and harmful accusations of me that had no basis in reality and boosted his position in the center and his image with syda.
Thanks for listening,
This was received 8 Mar 97:
Fortunately I was an older person, over 55, when I was first intro to SY. I went to a weekend intensive via closed circuit TV in the Seattle ashram. I left during the middle of the first day; I knew the strange starting time (4 am. Pacific coast time) and the continuous intensive information was getting me down. I was looking for spiritual connection, but after attending a number of SY sponsored functions it became very obvious to me that everything was carefully staged; the monetary charge for "truth" was a bit higher than one should expect.
I a very short time my inner teacher told me there was something wrong about a lot of it; only after dropping further pursuit did I learn of the many unhappy and deceiving experiences so many have had. That is very sad.
Subsequently, I have been following a local disciple of the indian teacher HWL Poonja, known as Papaji. He has an American disciple by the name of Gangaji (a wonderful woman teacher), and on the West Coast, a disciple by the name of Hanuman, located in San Francisco, who comes to Seattle to teach. There is no charge; everything is free-will. It is an open and loving group of people so far as I can determine. And, the truth is taught!
Thank you for your comments. You learned your lesson quickly and saw through the Hollywood presentations. The staging has gotten worse and therefore more obvious over the years. Even Gurumayi is tutored and what is amazing that many SY devotees are aware of this and don't seem to mind. The other dead give away (but not always present in a dysfunctional group) is the high cost of "truth". Actually, truth is free! So what is it that they are trying to sell?
Take care with your new path...as you call them teachers, with a small "t" does that put them in the "they can make mistakes and they are only human" category? If so, you will do well. The biggest problem with SY and other "divine" groups is when the Master / Teacher / Guru is beyond criticism.
This was sent 6 Mar 97:
In my "exit story" I said:
I heard so many people who hadnt even seen gurumayi or baba saying "thank-you, thank-you for saving my life". What is really going on there? Cant people take responsibility for there own lives? Do we need a miracle from a superbeing to rescue us? I agree that at times we all need a jolt. Maybe ascribing magic to it makes it more special. Maybe feeling saved feels better than not even thinking we needed saving.
Though I tried, I could never believe gurumayi was self-realised (neither did Muktananda he commented that both she and Nityananda were "entering the university, but its up to them to pass the test"). At best, she was trying hard. But I think the fawning adoration of devotees really went to her head. As said elsewhere recently, we empowered them, we made them godlike in our eyes. And they never stopped us. I remember at the end of an intensive, everyone was chanting babas name with her, "Baa baa, baa baa". I could have puked. If ever we showed her how much of a flock we were, it was then. I was stunned when some people said to me later "Wasnt that great?"
Do some people NEED to be sheep? Do some of us NEED a great "guiding light" to sheperd us through the ups and downs of life? Do we NEED a spiritual guide to be truly spiritual (whatever that means)? I think that if we answer yes to any of these questions, we are unconsciously handing power over to whomever we have chosen as that guiding light.
What difference does it make? Is it better to go to our grave feeling (whether accurately or not) there is someone to watch over us for ever more, or maybe we'll get to have another go at it, or is it better to simply accept that our life was ours, whatever we did with it, and that death is but the ending?
A, thank you for your thought provoking questions. I believe part of being human is the ongoing struggle of personal autonomy and self reliance. I think it is our nature (due in a large part to being raised in a culture where greed and violence are paramount) to want someone or something to guide us, help us, tell us what to do. Perhaps the more "damaged" a person is, the more they need the guidance. Is this bad? Who's to say. Certainly not I. Rather, I'd like to think of it as the nitty gritty part of living one's life.
You begin to touch on the question that will be with us all until we die, and that people have been fighting over for years, is there a God? Believer, agnostic or atheist. Does it really matter as long as one lives one's life with honesty and compassion?
This was sent 6 Mar 97:
I continue to enjoy your "Comments" section. I have to respond to the Feb 23 letter from "D." The most telling comment from him was to say of Baba "His morality was unquestionable." That's *precisely* the problem! Those of us who spent time in the ashram know that a situation has been set up there in which, whatever the guru does, no one can question his/her actions. The danger inherent in such a situation should give us pause.
Of course, anyone who *does* question the guru's morality is banned from the ashram. Before the internet, those who left had great difficulty being heard.
(As always, you are free to post my own comments & address to your site, or not, as you feel appropriate.)
As always, I am grateful for your refreshing comments.
This was received 4 Mar 97:
First let me preface myself by saying I only talked with Joe Pearce once and had one note from him. I do not know him otherwise.
I met Joe Pearce at an intensive on the east coast a few years ago and had a chance to talk with him. I found him to be a very kind man. When I was told to leave Siddha Yoga a few years later, I wrote him a note about my experience. He replied that he had heard such stories as mine over the years, but had never experienced abusive treatment himself or witnessed it firsthand. He said he felt very sorry that I had experienced so much abuse from the ashram, and that he was glad I am moving beyond it. He told me he left for other reasons.
When I met Joe Pearce years ago, he told me he was not really privy to being close to gurumayi. He said he was asked to give talks, and had his share of darshan, but he was by no means in the inner circle.
He also mentioned that he explains why he left Siddha Yoga in his book, Evolutions End. Basically, my understanding is that he feels he outgrew siddha yoga, and that to continue his spiritual growth he had to leave the guru behind. One teacher he connected to is Bernadette Roberts who he writes about in his book.
I have heard stories on american online that the ashram says he is "sick". It was interesting that he said he is very well and healthy in his note to me, which was written over a year ago.
I found this letter from Joseph Chilton Pearce, dated Jan. 95 where he says, "Your experience with SYDA was rather sad, certainly, and I wish it had been better. I had a most successful 12 years with that path, and though I left some four years ago, feel I gained much from it and am grateful for it. I am, however, well aware of the shortcomings within it, as in all human ventures, and the difficulties people can encounter there."
SY goes to great lengths when one of it's major teachers (big name authors) pr people defect. Actually Joe Pearce has a new "teacher" and left SY rather quietly. He was visiting a major city on a personal book tour and the local SY devotees wanted to invite him to the center. The devotees approached the center leader who contacted S. Fallsburg. The center leader was told that Joe Pearce was no longer part of SY and that they should tell people he was sick and not to bother him.
This was received 3 Mar 97:
As someone who was once heavily involved in Scientology and recently came into contact with Siddha Yoga, I am amazed at the similarities in how things were run.
It seems the truth is inside the individual and it's up to the individual to find it and to rely on oneself in the process.
Maybe the lesson is that once you've learned to find the truth, you eventually must continue it on your own, because no one is perfect.
My thanks to you for supplying a side to Siddha that is not readily found.
Thanks for your comments. I'd be interested in hearing more about the similarities and the differences. I agree, that we all have to find our own truths.
This was sent 2 Mar 97:
As a former Siddha Yoga swami, you helped bring people into sy and helped to keep them there. I wonder, now that you have left, do you feel any responsibility for this? While I understand your desire to do your own thing and as you have distanced yourself from SY (you make no mention of having worked for them in your web site) don't you think there is a duty to set the record straight?
We, the public, former and current members of SY, listened for years to your (and the other swamis and teachers) instructions and requested your guidance. We would now like to know why you left SY?
Were you aware of Muktananda's sexual abuse as alleged in the The Secret Life of Swami Muktananda & the O Guru, Guru, Guru articles? I'm attaching copies of each in case you haven't read them in a while. How did you and do you come to terms with the abuse?
There is a web site called, Leaving Siddha Yoga; Searching for the Truth ( http://www.cyberpass.net/truth ) that is focused on dealing with the problems of SY, past and present. A copy of this letter is being posted there.
Looking forward to your response,
This was received 3 Mar 97:
Your email appeared today to someone named Charles. Are you perhaps looking for Master Charles? There is no Charles here. Please clarify.
Kirsten McFadden ("J.B.")
Administrative Assistant to Master Charles
This was sent to 3 Mar 97:
Well yes, in fact I did mean Master Charles. I thought that was obvious from my email. Apologies for not being clear enough for you.
Could you please pass it on?
Thanks in advance,
This was received 5 Mar 97:
From: J.B. McFadden
Date: March 5, 1997
Thank you for your clarification.
I have conveyed your communication to Master Charles. He has asked that I respond to you on his behalf.
Master Charles (formerly Swami Vivekananda) left Siddha Foundation shortly after Muktananda's death in 1982. He has neither had contact since that time nor is he affiliated in any way.
His story is detailed in his new book, "The Bliss of Freedom, A Contemporary Mystic's Enlightening Journey" (Publication release date: March 6, 1997 by Acacia Publishing Company).
If you wish to know of his experience, it would be appropriate to read his book. I am sure that it will answer all the questions that you have addressed to him.
Thank you for your communication.
21 Mar 97:
I have read the book. Please go HERE for details of Muktananda's sexual actives as seen by former Swami Vivekananda.
26 Mar 97:
From: J.B. McFadden, Synchronicity Foundation, Inc.
It has been brought to my attention that your latest update to the "Leaving Siddha Yoga" Web page (March 21) includes a reproduction of your email correspondence to Master Charles and to myself at Synchronicity Foundation.
Speaking for myself, I am a little surprised that an experienced Webmaster like yourself omitted to follow the appropriate Netiquette of asking my consent prior to publicly posting what I believed was my personal correspondence to you. I would have agreed to the posting, but prefer that my consent be obtained in advance.
Similarly, an excerpt from Master Charles' spiritual autobiography "The Bliss of Freedom" has been reproduced on the same Web site. Master Charles does not personally object to the reprinting of his work, even though the limited excerpt you have posted is not representative of the tenor of the book as a whole.
However, perhaps you are not aware that neither Master Charles nor Synchronicity Foundation are the publishers, and are therefore not in a position to grant permission to use excerpts from the book, even if you had asked to do so. As is clearly stated on the back of the title page of "The Bliss of Freedom," permission to reproduce excerpts from the book by any means (including electronic) needs to be obtained in writing from the publisher, Acacia Publishing. They can be contacted at 23852 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite #736, Malibu, CA 90265. Their telephone and fax number is (310) 457 1718. The contact person would be Alanna Tarkington. She may also be reached via email. Her email address is LanaT1@aol.com
I am confident that Acacia Publishing would be open to a request to reproduce excerpts from the book on the Internet. Given that "The Bliss of Freedom," like all published material, is subject to the stringent laws of international copyright, you may wish to withdraw the extract from your Web page until such written permission can be obtained.
I wish you well in your ongoing journey.
Synchronicity Foundation, Inc.
This was sent 30 Mar 97:
Well, actually I am a bit surprised as well at your response. If you remember, in my first email (3/2/97, "Do you feel any responsibility") I stated,
"There is a web site called, Leaving Siddha Yoga; Searching for the Truth ( http://www.cyberpass.net/truth ) that is focused on dealing with the problems of SY, past and present. A copy of this letter is being posted there."
Regarding the copyright issue, as noted on our site:
"Copyrighted works are made available here under the 'fair use' exception of U.S. copyright law, for research and educational purposes only." ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/usc/17/107.html ).
As an educational service, this should explain why I do not need your publisher's specific permission.
Regarding my not representing the book written by Charles (AKA Swami Vivekananda), my purpose here is education about the problems in Siddha Yoga, past and present, NOT the representation of an ex swami, who still sees Muktananda as some kind of hero especially given the observed sexual misconduct of Muktananda.
Thank you for your concerns.
This was sent 17 Feb 97: (as of 21 Mar, there has been no response)
There is a web site called Leaving Siddha Yoga; Searching for the Truth (http://www.cyberpass.net/truth). There are many stories and articles here about the problems people have had in SY and what has caused them to leave. There has been some discussion of late about the responsibility that people who were in SY may have to the public regarding the problems that were found there.
A teacher or swami, such as yourself, had a great deal of influence bringing people into SY and helping the powers that be, keep people in. It would seem, that since you have come to the obvious conclusion that SY is not for you, that you might use your current position (as an ex sy swami) to bring the truth to light for those who are still in SY and for those who are "on the fence". By making your story public (either signed or not) you would, I think, be providing a service to those you helped into SY.
When I left SY, a "friend" said to me, "well I have a lot of respect for Swami so and so and since he is there, I believe that SY is ok". I began to list all the swami's that left and the person didn't know what to say, they didn't realize so many had left. Unfortunately, the majority of ex sy swami's have chosen to remain in silence. Why is this? There has been some speculation that you (the ones who have left) were bought off, sy pays you and then you agree to not say anything that would be negative towards their public image.
What do you think? I am really interested in how you look at all this.
Our conversations can be public (posted on the web site) or anonymous, it is up to you.
The following in taken from http://www.spiritweb.org/Spirit/Yoga/siddha-mahayoga.html
Swami Shankarananda was one of the sannyasis initiated by Swami Muktananda before Swami Muktananda's death and was at one time an influential individual within Swami Muktananda's organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to meet him but I have enjoyed an electronic correspondence with him.The following is a distillation of my electronic conversations with Swami Shankarananda and his students.
Swami Shankarananda left SYDA in 1986 and he subsequently ran the Shiva Institute in Santa Monica for four years. The Swami ran the Melbourne ashram for SYDA for three years in the early '80's and in 1990 he was invited by a group of Australian devotees to do a tour. It was so successful and they were so happy to see him again that they invited him to return permanently. In 1991 they organized an association called Shiva Meditation Centre and Swamiji was granted residency. The Shiva Centre is residential, 5 to 7 people at any given time. Swamiji runs courses and holds satsang on Saturday evenings.
Swamiji teaches a form of self-inquiry he calls the Shiva Process which is an assimilation of everything he learned from Baba Muktananda with an emphasis on the relationship between thought, feeling and the shakti. He does private meditation sessions and runs Shiva Process groups 3-4 times a week. The Shiva Process works with the contraction and expansion of energy in the chakras. Thoughts and feelings which show up in the chakras are. By using awareness to investigate which thoughts create an expansion and which thoughts create contractions insight into the various unconscious negative tendencies that we carry within us can be gained. The Shiva Process is powerful and non-dogmatic. It focuses on the individual's experience of themselves and their relationship to the shakti within them.
This was received 1 Mar 97:
After agonizing over all the information provided in all these articles about what has been really going on over the years in Siddha Yoga, my friend and I, are in the process of removing a house full of pujas and photo's of Baba and Gurumayi. Our combined years affiliated with SYDA spans 28 years. As I mentioned, in previous letters, I really could not accept that Muktananda could ever have been guilty of such hideous abuses of power. And of course my girlfriend, who was so intensely devoted to Baba and has faithfully performed her Sadhana for hours every day, is damaged for the rest of her life... her life which has always been difficult, and her complete dedication to the truth, which has led her to pursue perfection and purification, now can be explained why a certain threshold could never be attained. Baba was never really there to take us across..
This had been mentioned before, but I guess We were not completely ready to deal with it... This Makes Rajneesh look like a saint... So this week was the final stage and by next week after cleaning the house of hundreds of articles pertaining to Baba and Gurumayi, which breaks my heart and has inflicted wounds that will never heal , I will go forward. Our house has been a shrine to the Siddha Guru's... However, Shri Nityananda remains. I feel his spirit and energy has always been pure... I had spoken to An Ayervedic Physician from Bombay, who lives in the US , years ago. He , as a teenager, had Darshan With Nityananda several times (Lucky Guy) and Knew Muktananda as a disciple. He once said that he was surprised that Baba was the successor to the lineage and said that someday, If I was ever ready to hear the "real story"........ He never recognized Malti or her Brother, and after visiting baba in the Ashram in the early seventies never returned... Even after Baba's passing he would just smile in silence at the mention of her name... Well I guess now, I know why... If Gurumayi knew all these things, how, with a pure heart could she ignore this... The very foundations of the practice is in question. Well maybe not the practice but the organization.. and its reason for being... Besides the fact that they have so much money and it only seems to go one way...to SYDA When I was in Ganeshpuri and later in S. Fallsburg, (Being an Old Radical of the '60s) It always bothered me how SYDA would cater to the rich and treat them with VIP status... Always thought that we were all equal in the eyes of the guru...but the game is money... Saw Phylicia Rashad, Marsha Mason in India and they were treated like gold.. sitting next to Gurumayi.. staying in special airconditioned quarters.....I just ignored it saying Rich People need the Guru too and my goal in life is to learn to love all people, see god in everyone... Stop projecting Ed!
Well I think I have said enough.. I am Glad that this web sight was set up... On one of the home pages it said that over 4,000 people have visited this sight... Does that mean they have interacted or just checked in?
Thank you for your message. I know how hard it is to see Muktananda and Chidvilasananda for who they really are. We wanted them to be who they said they were (are). There is a great deal of disappointment as a result. At the same time I have felt a great sense of relief when I finally accepted it all. There is a long road of recovery and we all deal with it in our own way. There are many good books and articles to read as well. I have found it very helpful to be able to talk to others who have gone through this process as well. There is often a loss of community as well. Your friends who remain in SY will not be able to support you in your process (just as, I imagine, you were not able to support others in their leaving).
You are welcome to email us here at any time. When you are ready, you may wish to write your story for the site, for others to share in what you have learned.
Did you know there are others who have claimed lineage to Nityananda as well? (I am by no means recommending any of them to you).
I'd be curious in hearing what your "Ayervedic Physician from Bombay" has to say. There are lots of stories about the real history of SY (did you know that Muktananda tried to pass the lineage on to someone else, sorry don't have the name handy, who said no. he is some Indian guru/teacher in his own right) that should be brought to light.
I wish you both well and hope to hear from you,
Ps the 4000 number is how many people have visited the web site.
This was received 1 Mar 97:
I spent a fair amount of time with Muktananda, Chidvilasananda and Nityananda living in their ashrams for a few years. I had wonderful experiences from the chanting and meditating. I ignored the initial articles and complaints about Muktananda abusing young women and teens. When the brother and sister team fell apart I saw that SY (including Chidvilasananda and Nityananda) had lied to us about Nityananda. They said he was enlightened, a Siddha Guru, and he was not. If he was not, then what about her? That question bothered me for years. The O Guru article confirmed what I thought.
Frank, you ask "why do you have this website?" I thought the purpose was clear on the introductory page. Let me quote,
"This web site is provided to allow people to openly discuss their experiences of having participated in Siddha Yoga and the process of leaving Siddha Yoga.
It is our belief that by talking about and sharing our truth we can help ourselves deal with the process of healing. In addition, we hope that the material here will help those who are thinking of leaving. There is much in Siddha Yoga that is kept secret. It is our desire to make the truth public, for all to see."
Are you in SY? What do you think about what you have read here?