COMMENTS & RESPONSES - JULY - 1
Received 2 Jul:
Before anything else, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for the great work that you are all doing by keeping this web site. You all are doing a great job! Thank you so much! Pendragon, would you be so kind as to send me the O Guru, Guru, Guru! article? I live in Japan, so I can't find this article in my local library. Could you please send me the article by e-mail?
Once again, thank you so much!
Received 2 Jul:
Thank you for sending me the Lis Harris article a few weeks ago. I'm still digesting it. I'm attaching a copy of an E-Mail I sent to one of the other people on your site. You may post it if you wish, though I do, at this point, choose to stay anonymous. In any case, I'd appreciate it if you could respond when you have time. The favorable experiences are not there to justify the behavior I've read about. They are there to say, "How do I hold both these realities in my mind?"
Dear Dr. Bone,
I read your story on the "Leaving Siddha Yoga" Website. I'm not on AOL, so I haven't seen all the things referred to in the discussion folders there. I've had a brief but deep (well, relatively speaking) brush with Siddha Yoga, and I could use someone to talk to. I've read most of the info on the site, including the Lis Harris article and the article by William Rodarmor.
What I wonder about is the spiritual experiences. Not that they justify the things I've read, but simply how they coexist with them. I notice that some people dismiss Gurumayi and Muktananda as total fakes (although one writer suspects Gurumayi of "psychic powers"). Some see them as great yogis and flawed humans. You did the practices intensely for three years, and I have to assume you experienced something when you did them. Pendragon always tells correspondents to remember that the spiritual experiences came from inside themselves, and I know this is true. I had spiritual experiences before I ever got involved in Siddha Yoga, simply working on my own with God, or Higher Power, or the Deep Self, or whatever you want to call the sacredness that pervades all life. I was a regular meditator and spiritual seeker, and still consider myself to be so.
But what I found in Siddha Yoga was a deeper experience of certain things that had remained abstract for me, a more bodily tangible experience of oneness in day to day life, instead of just in occasional blissful ecstatic experiences. I had what I understand as past-life flash-backs regarding myself and my parents (and others that didn't include them---and no, I wasn't Cleopatra or a major historical figure!), and I had these experiences prior to Siddha Yoga. Even though I had graphically seen the karma my parents and I were working off together, I still couldn't let go the cycle of rage and betrayal I felt towards them, despite years of intense psychiatric work as well as spiritual work. My understanding of our karma together, and a certain acceptance of it was there, but I couldn't embody it, I couldn't lose my angry "charge", even though I had no contact with them for years.
When I started doing chants and offering devotion to the guru, when I experienced Shaktipat, and prayed for emotional healing in myself and my family I lost my "charge," and my parents got in touch with me in a very polite tactful manner and asked if I would consider opening the lines of communication. (Whether a healthy relationship is possible remains to be seen; but just to lose that charge is an incredible gift.) What I'm trying to say is, despite the corrupt organization, the practices work. And beyond that my experience is that the guru's grace and Shakti do carry you forward. I did other practices with regularity and devotion and never got results like this.
Let me also add that I saw a poster of Gurumayi in someone's home, was moved by the energy in her gaze and asked for help on my spiritual path. That night I dreamed that a bearded man in an orange robe was teaching me and some renunciates. The dream stayed with me, but I wondered who the man was. I later saw a picture of Muktananda, whom I was totally unfamiliar with, recognized him as the man in my dream and asked who he was. (This was, of course all this year, long after Baba's Mahasamahdi.) I also experienced his picture coming alive, gazing at me and smiling, and I experienced this again and again with the picture I (up until now) had on my wall. I also had an experience with him when I was meditating in which he showed me my parents' celebrating the completion of our karma and the fact that they wouldn't have to hurt me anymore. (This was before they got in touch with me, and before I prayed for healing with them). As there are simply too many accounts of abuses perpetrated by Muktananda, Gurumayi, and SYDA for me to simply ignore them, so there are too many experiences belonging to me and other people of the guru bringing clarity, healing, and understanding for me to discount those as well. It's not just, blissful meditations; it's tangible improvements in relationships, physical and mental health, career satisfaction, etc. And dreams and visions of the guru resolving problems and offering love and comfort. How is it possible for both these things to be real?
I don't think the positive experiences can be explained away be belief. I had prayed with sincere belief and love before, with a feeling that God truly loved and supported me, and gotten some miracles and answers, but never results like these. Other people have told me similar things. I am splitting trying to hold the negative accounts on the Internet (which I simply can't explain away as all being malicious, full of wrong understanding, etc.) and the positive experiences for which I'm truly grateful. And I know well the abandoned little girl inside. I have done and continue to do deep work with her, and it only adds to my uncertainty about Siddha Yoga. Because as I turned to the guru with that little girl, I made breakthroughs with the little girl, got out of stuck places I hadn't been able to move through in years. I'd really appreciate your honest feedback on this. It seems as though the Shakti truly functions through the Guru in a miraculous way, and yet there are parts of the individual guru's personality that are very out of whack.
Received 3 Jul:
With so many devotees of Siddha being
in show business, I wonder if any ex-Siddhites could
persuade a big time,prime time show like Prime Time,
20/20 etc. to do a program on Siddha Yoga and all of the
scandal past and present. Also, I was involved for some
time with Siddha but only in the outer fringes of their
system. Had I been more on the inside with access to
information, you'd better believe that i would be
planning to write a book on the subject. The impact that
the New Yorker article had [ outside of the contained
environment of the cult] on public awareness of Siddha
was a damaging blow to them. We need more exposure of
that ilk. Even when I was swayed, absorbed in chanting,
adoring GuruMayi and the whole trip, a little voice was
telling me that it was a cult big-time!
Received 4 Jul:
I have been a Devotee of Gurumayi for (5) years and on her birthday of this year I went in the Ashram and what I experience made me leave the Ashram and write a letter to her which I'm sending you.
I always had my suspicions and doubts and couldn't let go like the Guru wants' you to. I feel betrayed after all that I read in the Internet and experienced. What bother's me the most is, in my visits there,I saw a lot's of new blood coming to the Ashram and I look back and see myself in them. They are all excited and so open to a Shark like Syda-yoga and I think people who left the Ashram should something more to let these people know of what is like. But, out-of experience I know that no matter what you tell people if they don't' have the experience themselves they will not do much about it.I don't' mind if my letter is posted in the Internet and I'm open in any suggestions.
July 4, 1997
This letter is for Gurumayi
My name is EX-DEVOTEE, and I have been a devotee for almost (5) years.
On the day before your birthday, me and a friend of mine who I spoke so highly of the Syda-yoga Guru, came to the Ashram to spend the night and be there on your birthday.
We register and then we went to the dining hall to eat and on the table was a sign
( Dont teach to others what you dont practice) sign Baba Muktananda.
I thought what a great lesson. So after diner we went for the evening program. My friend and me were very excited. Towards the end of the program ,all the speakers announced, before the Dakshina and the projects that the Syda-Yoga is into , about the
NO MATTER WHAT, GURUS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE????????????????????
So that means do not forget who loves you and open your wallet.
Well, my Guru I have spend five years of my life thinking of you and talking about you and how you made me feel. Also cried on the thought of you.
Needles to go on about this. The real issue is, THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
You saw, me and my friend when you were serving on the line during lunch.
As soon as we approach you, you turn your head away as we were something terrible.
You made believe that you were busy,( and this is not the first time that this happened ) just when I was preparing myself to say
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GURUMAYI
This is the way you express your UNCONDITIONAL LOVE???
Was that your mirror face??? Or you trying to teach me how to turn away from someone??? You once said that no matter what a person did to you, you look at them and then start repeating the mantra , were you repeating your mantra???
Were is the love here??? You try to teach people about love but you have none.
Would this make you a HYPOCRITE ????
Are you practicing what you teach????? !!!
I know now that nothing about you has any truth.
Is it true of what people talk about in the INTERNET??? about you and Baba. You only like to mix with people that are Lawyers, Doctors, Actors etc.
High clientele ????
!!!!THE INNER CIRCLE!!!!
!!!! I KNOW IN SYDA YOGA THERE IS NO ACCIDENTS !!!!
You are a fake!!.
For five years I saw, and heard things in the Ashram and I turned my head (just like you turned yours) because I placed my trust in you, but not any more .
Im going to post a copy of this letter on the Internet and many others.
After all your UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS A HOT TOPIC.
Received 5 Jul:
Thank you very much for the article! Actually this is the second time I read it. I first read it several months ago at a public library in San Diego county, California. I was very intrigued by it.
Ironically, I came across the "Leaving Siddha Yoga" Web Site by accident about 7 or 8 months ago.
I didn't find any listing of meditation, but I did find the "Leaving Siddha Yoga" site instead. Wow, did it ever open my eyes! I am so grateful. I immediately searched for the "O Guru, Guru" article.
I certainly agree that it is an important (if not the most important) article about Siddha Yoga. When I read the article, I had been involved with Siddha Yoga off and on for about 18 years. That article as well as the other articles helped me to leave Siddha Yoga for good.
Once again, thank you very much!
Received 5 Jul:
I have sent an e-mail to the person doing the article on Gays and Lesbians and Cults. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I had a friend who asked about a relationship she was contemplating (lesbian) and trying to see the future via GM asked one of the darshan filter people about it. She was told in a horrified manner that GM would never put two people of the same sex together.
It is also worthy of note that they bill Meg Christian as a performer who had performed at Carnegie Hall, but never say in what context. As she was one of the founding mothers of "Women's music" (ie. primarily lesbian music)she performed there at the 10th anniversary of Olivia Records (who now run Olivia Cruise lines, the same people who were rejected by ABC for an ad on ELLEN's "Puppy Episode" ). She was in fact their first signed artist. I once mentioned this to a het female devotee, who reacted like I was slandering Meg. When she said to me, "Don't you know that she wouldn't"t do that now", I said, "No, I don't know that" since, at the time I had just seen a video of Olivia"s 15th Anniversary in which she talked about the beginnings of Olivia records while dressed in a Punjabi and doing japa on her mala, in what looked like a room in Atma Nidhi or Sadhana Kutir. I hope she leaves SY someday. Thank you for putting the Quote from Baba on homosexuals online and the e-mail for the OUT magazine article. Maybe people will wake up as to how queers are considered and treated there.
for GM saying that people who look at and contribute to
this website being still in SY,what a batch of
mind-control, Orwellian crap that is. We're trying
to heal from it, trying to understand why we got into it,
stayed in it, rationalized and lied to ourselves to stay
in her and SY's "good graces", and to warn
others by telling the truth and our feelings That's
like saying alcoholics that go to AA are wanting to
remain active in their disease, or that childhood sexual
abuse survivors are wanting to be sexually abused again
by being in AA type groups for that. It's for
support in dealing with abuse and going on, not for
Received 5 Jul:
Found this on the (other web site), thought it might be of interest:
Subject: "Does Death Really Exist" by Baba
I've been looking at a small book that Baba wrote called "Does Death Really Exist". In it he quotes the Bhagavad Gita as describing two paths by which a yogi can leave his body.
1."Fire, light, day, the bright half of the month, the six months of the northern path of the sun; going forth at these times, those who know the Absolute go to the Absolute."
2. "Smoke, night, so also the dark half of the month, the six months of the southern path of the sun; going forth at such a time, the yogi obtains the lunar light and returns."
Although Baba did pass on during a full moon, it was at night and during the southern path of the sun.
Does this mean Baba will reincarnate?
Thank you, Ganapati
(Maybe a yogic scholar out in cyberspace can help us with this one. Thanks for such an interesting question.)
Received 7 Jul:
Pendragon, thanks for your website. While your comments verge on vitriolic sometimes, you are providing a needed service. Keep up the good work!
I am not a "watcher", but I am still in Siddha Yoga. Believe it or not, I believe most of the info presented in the website and am sympathetic to the pain of the writers. I know that the harassment of Nityananda Jr. devotees is true, because I experienced the pride of the Ann Arbor sevites after their little riot at Ralph's house and spoke out against it. I have even left Siddha Yoga for a year or so, but came back because the chants had not lost their savor, and the mantra would not leave my heart.
So how do I still stay in Siddha Yoga? Am I psychologically imbalanced, or incredibly needy? Am I a monstrous hypocrite? Am I just plain stupid? Well, maybe, but I don't think so - read on and draw your own conclusions.
See, I figure it this way: Eventually, GM will clean up her act or bring SYDA to its knees. SYDA can't prosper while she's acting up. Meanwhile, I'm meeting at a center, playing music, and engage in public outreach, and I give the straight skinny to newcomers whenever it's appropriate. In other words, I remain in a position to subvert GM's cheap politics and remind people of the Guru principle, of the grace of the practices, and always, always the option to leave "the trip" if they are at all uncomfortable. I figure, as do others with whom I have spoken, that long after GM is gone, we'll still be meeting for satsang and having a grand old time.
I have survived by NOT wanting to belong to the "inner circle", NOT wanting a personal relationship with GM, and generally flying under the radar of SYDA Foundation. Seventeen years spanning naievete to covert subversion and I still feel like forward momentum is being maintained in my sadhana.
Let me chant and meditate and I guess I don't mind being insecure, hypocritical or stupid. And I don't need anyone else's blessings to practice what I practice, either. Selfish? Probably. It makes sense to me that sadhana is inherently selfish and subjective.
And if I may, A NOTE TO GURUMAYI: My dear, please clean up your act. We won't wait forever for you to behave yourself and to let sunlight and fresh air into your organization - ahem, er - OUR organization. Those of us who love Siddha Yoga would love to do so without embarassment, and you are embarassing us badly. With love I ask you to behave like royalty or step down from the throne (and I'm thinking more like Grace of Monaco and less like Prince Charles).
Thanks again, Pendragon. You of course may publish this in its entirety, but I ask that you do not indulge in creative editing (you probably wouldn't anyway, but I had to say it). I would also like to ask for replies at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you allow that.
In love for all seekers,
I am interested in how you are able to stay in such a dysfunctional and harmful organization when you admit you know the truth about it? Do you simply settle for less in your life? That Chidvilasananda is not a realized being and claims to be so, is ok with you? SY focuses on image and money under the guise of spiritual growth, why would you want to be a part of that?
I understand the power of the social scene and that you may even feel like you are getting something from the meditation and chanting. But to remain involved in a group that you know is flawed....why bother?
I do not think SY will be crumbling down anytime soon. (Unless of course someone from deep inside comes out with clear proof that ends up with her being sent out of the country). They hid behind the very practices you claim to honor. They use the freedom of religion and zealous devotees to support themselves and build a bigger organization. SY is the master of PR and canned responses. You are part of them and contribute to their mission whether you like it or not.
Received 7 Jul:
Howdy! I'm a tourist here considering whether to explore SYDA or not. I'm not sure where to get this New Yorker magazine. Could you please email me a copy of the original article?
I was pretty hopeful about these guys
after reading their info pack. Geez, where can one go
these days to find a real guru?! Or is it back to finding
one's own path. Hmmm ... I'll be doing much reading of
the fascinating articles at your site. Thanks very much
for making it all available. I'm currently exploring
Paramahansa Yogananda as well as Da Free John. I've heard
a few bad things about the latter, but Yogananda's ok so
far! Sign, such is the nature of the search.
Received 7 Jul:
thanks for your response.
Your Web Site will save a lot of those people who honestly are searching. There are still a lot looking for a military type of god-organisation who love the taste of the lash and they'll still support SYDA yoga(TM) regardless of the truth.
I was sucked into SYDA(TM) because the books were pretty interesting and seemed pretty lofty. Not much about idol worship in them. The ashram in Sydney was clean, the cakes at amrit were creamy, and Muktananda recommended cakes to feed the shakti. It was OK because I took what I saw was good and just passed the stupid off as the foibles of the locals running the show. Anyway that changed when I got to India. Went to an intensive in Delhi... It was basically designed for Indians so I got a taste of the real SYDA(TM). A lot of reports of visions of Indian gods from the Indians....that made we wonder. And they seemed to share their visions and then look around for approval. OK..i said to myself, maybe its very Jungian....the gods with gnashing teeth or whatever represent archetypes...describe an internal state...i thought as I trotted off to the toilets that didn't have any toilet paper, or soap to wash..well even Indians like to wash there hands before returning for lunch??? Surely they were making enough to provide soap if not toilet paper?? Well they had water there for drinking..they were ladling out...but when we asked whether it was boiled the SYDA(TM) clones laughed and said "of course not". Gee it wasn't a free intensive, but they give you amoebas for free...v. generous. This was nothing like the amrit in Sydney.....mmmm....or was it?. Then we went to Ganeshpuri..well that proved fatal for my idea of SYDA(TM) as a lofty religion. I couldn't stomach the IDOL WORSHIP. There it was clear that its all idolatry.....the statues were all over the place...I've lived in Japan and they have buddhist statues but they weren't all gaudy and fleshy looking. I went to meditate in a thing like a cellar, everyone said it was so great...I only felt revulsion to see a big lit from behind picture of Muktananda(TM) and he was buried around there somewhere. Then I started to wonder how I had come to such a place where everyone pushes the party line and others welfare is ignored. Thanks to you Pendragon, I understand why it was like that. Its all planned that way to hide the truth. If someone is abused and makes noises you call them bad. I was shocked to see seemingly normal people, some I had liked in Sydney go in Cultlike behaviour as soon as you voice any doubts about anything as holy as a SYDA(TM) ashram.
Muktananda's book "Ashram Dharma" must rank along side Mein Kampf in its use by totalitarian goons. If SYDA(TM) is that gooood how come they shut people up? Surely part of learning is discussion and argument?? No not for arguments sake..what if you have genuine concerns?
The bottom line is that SYDA does not want to talk about the problems, they want them to go away by ignoring them. Then if that doesn't work, they spin up the pr department and off they go. If you did go to powers that be with a sincere question you will be told to talk to a teacher or a swami, etc. These people are trained to deal with your doubts. They practice responding to your questions with pre-written lines. In the articles section is a copy of Questions and Answers written up by SY for the center leaders ( 4/23/86 letter from Center's Office addressed to Center Leaders. The secret and official way Center Leaders were to handle uneasy questions about Swami Nityananda. Includes scripted answers to possible questions. "THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE POSTED, REPRODUCED OR HANDED OUT") to deal with difficult questions.
Too many difficult questions will get people thinking and soon they will see the hundred's of inconsistencies and problems. Recently when SY sent damage control people to the centers and ashrams, they designed it to meet with people on an individual basis. It is always much easier to deal with doubts from an individual than from a group.