The Yoga Bubble Bursts

Since last year, we’ve planned to return to Miami and study with our teacher John Friend. Our flight departs in 24 hours. Our classes are covered, our hotel is booked, registration completed, and our $2,290 payment has been made to Anusara Inc. In light of the recent J.F. exposed findings, the question is this – “what do we do?”

Circumstances are a matter of timing. Just one week ago, we were full-blown, all in Anusara yogis in in every way. At the moment I’m not sure where I stand. Over the last five years, my girlfriend and I have practiced, taught, and operated a yoga studio from the central teachings of the brilliant system put forth by founder – John Friend (J.F.). In that time, we have devoted most of our available time, energy, and money to the study of Anusara – a system that has enhanced our lives in every way. So I begin as I have been taught to do, by “looking for the good,” and I am forever grateful.

Anusara yoga is composed of a powerful combination of two main things:

  1. Universal Principals of Alignment (U.P.A’s) &
  2. The life affirming Shiva/Shakti Tantric philosophy.

When applied appropriately, the U.P.A’s heal suffering without fail. I’ve seen examples so radical, I hesitate to mention them for fear of disconnecting with my audience through disbelief. But let me assure you, Anusara alignment works. It is good because it enhances life in all its nested layers of existence from physical to the spiritual, and it frees people from suffering. Nothing about the validity of the system of Anusara yoga is in question for me.

Here are some of my very basic understandings of the Tantric philosophy. It’s called “life affirming” because it awakens its practitioners to their divine nature in this this life rather than showing them some way of escaping it. The purpose has never been to elevate practitioners per say, but to help them navigate the complicated earthly web of embodied living relationships and find enlightenment down here on earth. This is why John is applying the teachings in his upcoming workshop called “The Dharma of Relationship,” the workshop we’re scheduled to attend the day after tomorrow.

The Tantric philosophy is the “common vision,” shared by both myself and my teachers, which should make things convenient in that we may see eye to eye. But some of what has been recently published on the subject at hand hasn’t lined up with my understanding of the teachings or my life experience, so now I’m at least a little confused about a lot of things. For example: Christopher Wallis recently published an article called How Should the Teacher Behave? vs. What Can I Receive?: Understandings and Misunderstandings Around the Role of the Teacher

In that article Wallis states “Lack of awareness of this truth [the truth about the Guru Principal] causes teachers to be put on pedestals, and students to be disempowered. Then, inevitably, the teacher “falls.” In fact this fall is not real, because the pedestal was never real.” Is this true? Have I placed my teacher on a pedestal and asked any more of him than I would ask of myself, or anyone who I place on a level with myself? Am I somehow accountable for the “fall” of J.F? I really don’t think so, as I’m only applying basic laws of human relationships to my judgments. I guess the question isn’t really all that important because he goes on to say “the only one thing that actually matters for the yogi is “Can I receive something from this person?” Is that true? My understanding of the Guru Principal is that EVERYTHING is a teacher, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend thousands of dollars and decades of my life listening and practicing from just anyone because they “I can receive something.” In reality, choosing one teacher means not choosing another, at least for that moment. It’s called discernment, and in this moment, it’s what is needed. What do we do? I’ve got to make a decision.

It’s difficult to tease out my individual perspective from what I’ve learned in my studies. The practice of yoga adjusts our worldview for the sake of greater clarity and truth, which ultimately leads to higher experiences of bliss – it’s basically chit and ananda. Because of my devotion to Anusara, my observances will inevitably flow through its unique lens. Thus, while I’m making my decision to go study with J.F. in Miami, I’m thinking as a free individual, but I’m also thinking as a yogi applying the tools I’ve accumulated on my path.

As an individual I am a yogi, a teacher, a business owner, a community leader, a homeowner, a “husband,” and a father among many other things. All this, I understand is part of my “story” which inevitably frames my perspective. I get that from Wallace. But as I make my decision, it’s important for me to keep things rooted in the “real world,” and refrain from exhaled thinking as a way of bypassing simple laws like cause and effect or the Golden Rule. To do so would be like trying to learn to fly without acknowledging the law of gravity.

Being who I am, family and community are of the highest importance. I understand that for some older single men, sleeping with married women doesn’t seem like a “bad” idea. As a husband and father, my “story” reveals that to me this decision has a devastating effect on families and on even entire communities, as I’m sure is being revealed to J.F. at the moment. Relationships are so intricately woven that one missed stitch, one misalignment can affect the whole web. That’s why society has a system of integrity and accountability. These are the checks and balances of relationships. When someone in the community makes a mistake and creates anguish in the larger group, they must be held accountable for their act. This includes EVERYONE; nobody is exempt – students, partners, employees, and self. Call it judgment. Accountability serves a purpose, and I know that it can be done out of love and kindness and a big picture perspective. I ask for accountability from everyone else in my life, shall I not ask for accountability from my teacher?

I AM contemplating J.F’s situation with compassion. He is inevitably suffering at the moment. I want to give him a big hug and tell him how much I feel for him – and I do feel deeply for him. It’s got to be damn hard thing being a single man in his position of power. I also understand that his behavior is really very normal for a single older man. So I offer compassion – there must be humiliation, emotional pain, distress, and a general struggle for peace. But I have been taught to see these experiences as indicators of “misalignment,” painfully obvious road signs on the path to deep inner harmony. So, I know my teacher is out of alignment in the grand form of the concept – life in general.But since I too am suffering, I must also be out of alignment.

I’m not suffering the “fall” of J.F. because I placed him on a pedestal, I’m suffering because this is yoga, we’re yoked, and we’re all in this thing together. That’s the truth. One person’s actions can be the cause that affects us all in ways that either enhance or diminish life. That’s why we’ve got the Golden Rule. Anyone who wants to simplify complicated matters with statements like “the only thing that matters here is…” aught to seriously consider this method – do onto others as you would have done to yourself. It’s simple but also true, and it works.

We’re living in a time when we lack true leadership. All too often we have been let down by those in power. Company executives, politicians, the president, coaches… But nobody is “above” basic laws of humanity – this is a lesson to all. People of power have to play by the same basic rules as us commoners because these basic rules are woven into the fabric of nature. People get busted even if they’ve surrounded themselves with an insulated bubble of believers, money, and power. The truth has a way of revealing itself. That is grace. Sometimes it’s really not pretty and people often get caught in the crossfire and that’s tragic. This is true of website – J.F. Exposed (a site that in no way do I sanction)

The question now is – what do we do? What do we do when we’ve been let down by the people we thought to be living examples? Many have made comments like “it’s so good to hear that he’s human like the rest of us.” Is this helpful – admitting that you had him on a pedestal and then reducing humanity to mistakes like sleeping with other people’s wives? This situation is a brilliant opportunity; it can raise or lower our humanity, and in my opinion it’s time to raise it.

Douglas Brooks famously says, “Enlightenment is a collective endeavor.” But if we discount the mistakes of our leaders by passing them off as “human” we fail to hold them accountable and this damages the integrity of us all. If we don’t call a spade a spade, we’ve participated in the deception. When turn a blind eye on one person’s blatant lack of integrity, in turn we sacrifice our own. If we’re going to elevate consciousness, it won’t happen by bypassing basic laws of civilization like “don’t sleep with another guys wife,” and “don’t have sex with the interns.” Even though yoga does explain these things, we really shouldn’t need yoga to do that because these are lessons everyone has learned, however spiritually immature they may be.

What do we do with all of this?

Let’s use the painful transparency of this situation to engage in a large-scale conversation that enhances life and raises consciousness. Truth be told, the Anusara community tend to prefer cloaking reality in a shroud of shri. We’ve been taught to “look for the good,” and this is a valuable practice. But there comes a time to look for the truth, and the truth is this: the shadow is real. We’ve been a group that commonly beats around the bush and avoids it. Here’s the result: Let us all take a good look now and get real clear about our own accountability. Let’s attempt to live with the highest integrity and hold each other to it. When I slip and I don’t see it because I’m shrifully gazing into the eyes of the divine, I want to know someone’s there to wake me up and say, “Hey buddy and get real!” I’ll do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen, but I can’t make any promises. I AM human, and I’m going to make mistakes like everyone, but without the checks and balances of relationships, I may start to feel like I’m on an island when I’m not. I’m down here like the rest of us, in this tangled web of relationships where the teachings begin. The practice of yoga starts now.

Todd Vogt (Studio Owner)

38 thoughts on “The Yoga Bubble Bursts

  1. Beautifully said Todd. My take on this whole challenging time is, NOW is the time for yoga, for looking into our own hearts and responding in the highest possible way.
    Affirm what is, be spacious . Let me know what you decide to do about Miami. I believe it will be a pivotal step toward healing. It will not be easy or pleasant. The House of Anusara is getting a spring cleaning. The results will be more clarity and lightness for us all. In love and light, Michele

  2. What a great blog, Todd. I really appreciate it. I agree with most everything you say here. A few points that bear further discussion. You query “Am I accountable for the fall of JF?”, implying that my argument suggests that notion. Absolutely not. You are responsible for your own actions and your own experience, so you are only responsible for the “fall off the pedestal” part, and only then if you, Todd, actually put him on a pedestal. It sounds like you didn’t. My article was simply inviting the many people who HAD put him there to take responsibility for doing so. (So many people in the Anusara community, hundreds and hundreds, fed John’s god-realm delusion — so yes, all who did so co-created his rise and fall. I never meant to imply that *everyone* did so.)

    The “can I receive something” part has been misunderstood by a number of people, which means I didn’t word it correctly. All I am inviting you to do, actually, is to look at your experience and ask your inner wisdom whether this channel is still open for you or not. If yes, because (say) you feel that John has more to give you in the realm of physical yoga, then you go to Miami. If no, because (say) you can feel that your heart will not be open to receive from him now that you know more about his whole character, then you don’t go. But my point was this: it’s based on your inner wisdom, not (say) an assessment of how “bad” his actions were. Does not resonate with you better? Cause that’s what I meant.

    I have no problem with your argument about accountability. My comments were based on seeing mob mentality on YogaDork and other sites, where people were convicting JF of all sorts of things without having any evidence yet. I was seeing prejudices and “samskarred” minds running amok. Real accountability, now that’s cool. But neither you nor I are the ones to judge John’s actions and sentence him accordingly in the public square. An Ethics committee, elected by Certified Teachers — that I can get on board with as an accountability measure. Accountability in a more personal manner, meaning you apply your own moral values when you evaluate whether you feel comfortable with John as your teacher — I’m cool with that too. Cause actually, that’s all part of paying attention to your own experience that I was talking about.

    But they are your moral values. I balk when you describe them as universal moral laws, cause they’re not. There are traditional societies, like the Mosuo, in which sleeping with the other guy’s wife is not only okay, it’s encouraged. Now, I’m NOT excusing John’s actions. He doesn’t live in Mosuo society. And he did cause harm. I’m just pointing out that being true to your own moral values does not necessitate claiming universality for them. When you don’t claim that, you can both forgive others who don’t conform to your values, AND move on, which is the “being true to yourself” part.

    You cite the Golden Rule — if we look at that teaching in context, we can see that Jesus meant us to apply it to ourselves, because he also said “Judge not, lest you be judged” and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” In other words, we strive to follow the Golden Rule, but hesitate to judge whether others have failed to do so.

    I am SO down with almost everything you say. I agree that in strong spiritual community, we provide reflection to each other, and reflection is so much more effective and uplifting than judgement. “Hey buddy, wake up and get real!” is a good shorthand example of reflection. I do it, and I welcome it. It is integral to community.

    I welcome all “shadow work” more openly than virtually any Anusara teacher I know. I just don’t see it as an either/or proposition. I celebrate the beauty and the light, I don’t stop loving, even as I engage the shadow. If you really realize the shadow is part of the light, you can engage both at once.

    I personally think all this is the best thing that could happen for Anusara. Community will step forward, and will not let “Shr

    • Are you trying to say that yoga is uninformed by ethics? Yoga is and always has been built on a foundation of ethics. Does any serious student or scholar (I believe your website claims that your are a scholar) claim otherwise?

      Your words sound nice and pretty on the surface, but your real message seems to be just tired, post-modern, morale-relativism card. If you want to quibble about one ethical perspective versus another (“Mommy, why can’t I do such-and-such? Johnnie’s mom says he can do it?”), don’t waste your breath. There is one undeniable moral perspective that applies here – Anusara’s own Ethical Guidelines:

      The actions of John Friend are condemned by none other than John Friend himself. If John Friend has any integrity, he will follow his own Ethical Grievance Procedure and revoke or suspend his own teacher’s license:

      Notice that I said that *actions* of John Friend are to be condemned. I did not say that the *person* is to be condemned. We can and must condemn certain actions and hold people responsible for the consequences of their actions. While doing so we can continue to hold them in our hearts.

  3. i” teachings blind them to the work to be done. It’s already life-enhancing. And you, Todd, are part of that process. Again, aside from my minor attempts to nuance your position above, I honor what you’ve written here — your authenticity, your strength, your inquiry. Let’s move forward together.
    with much much love,

  4. Oh, but Todd, you forgot the third thing, right there on the first page of the Teacher’s Manual: Kula.

    One way or the other, what will determine the long-term fate of Anusara is the community. In fact, that is what this seems poised to become—the moment when the community comes to embody Anusara, rather than leaving that responsibility on the shoulders of just one normal person.

    That is why, were I in your shoes, I would go to Miami. I wouldn’t hesitate for even a moment, because whatever your feelings towards John right now, I know that the people you meet, the opportunity to share your experience with others going through the same thing right along side you—that’s where the real stuff is.

  5. During this past week of reading so many wonderful and not-so-wonderful blogs concerning Anusara, I have not felt compelled to comment or reply until now.

    Todd, “I LOVE YOU” From the time I meet you and Annie, I knew I loved you guys but never really knew why (didn’t really care why, just glad I did)
    After reading you article, I can see why. Your words are clear and heartfelt. They are words everyone can understand from a very personal point of view.

    I say, go to Miami. Don’t change anything, don’t go as a representative of us little people, don’t go with an objective point of view. Go as that beautiful person that you are and write about it. Good or bad, just experience the workshop and John for yourself. I trust that everything you experience and communicate to us will be absolutely true and perfect. You are in a unique position and I would give anything to go with you. You have my unwavering support and undying Love.

  6. Thank you Chris. I appreciate you and respect you both as a friend, a devotee, and a scholar. So I take your refinements to heart. You have always expanded my understanding of reality and helped me see the truth. Your reply above is no exception. I realize you weren’t placing blame for the fall of J.F. into the hands of the students but rather pointing out that the fall was co-created by the actions or blindness of many. Thank you for pointing out the “delusion,” because I that’s exactly what needs to identified and discussed. Sure, moral values aren’t exactly universal (that’s crazy about Mosuo!), but for all of us westerners involved in this discourse, they are universal enough to know right from wrong – right?
    My biggest thing is, let’s call this what it IS before we attempt to justify it. Let’s let everyone feel what they feel and be very real for a moment before we move directly into forgiveness and band-aiding the problem. If we don’t, the purpose of these findings won’t work themselves out.
    I’ve always admired your openness and honesty. I appreciate your involvement in the difficult issues and for your progressive approach. You are a fearless warrior for love.

  7. I’m going, in fact I applied right before this all went down, and had a few hours to contemplate before paying what you also did. I feel the pull of the kula…WE are Anuara, teachers and students together.
    I am also steeped in the Burning Man community, very poly-amoury…I see similar things happen in that community too, and am all to happy someone doesn’t hold a magnifying glass to my personal life; past and present. I don’t think his actions are ‘kosher’ especially if he’s done harm, but I know I’ve made mistakes along my path. It’s what I’ve done/learned/grown for these experiences that show my character.
    I will go to be with community. I go, pregnant with child, to contemplate my relationship with this child, with my husband, with my kula, with myself.
    I may have a few misgivings about (one of) my teacher at this point, and will be observing his actions thru this. I’m not going to necessarily flavor my experience.
    Maybe I’ll see you there! I’m the one with the bump 😉

  8. I love the depth of reflection here, and the dialogue between Todd and Hareesh especially, which only seems to deepen and clarify the pool of the reflection. I know these are personally and professionally challenging questions. Asking and exploring them in this manner is creating such a great web of learning across the world right now! I feel myself growing every time I read another discussion on this level. Gratitude!

  9. Hi Todd,

    Within the collective stoning of Yoga’s latest bad boy and some really negative shouting going on, I’ve really enjoyed the beautiful voice of reason you’ve expressed here. The only thing I disagree with is the idea that JF’s behavior toward his employees (and from what I’ve read his violation of his own code of conduct that everyone else in Anusara has to abide by) is somehow “normal” for an older, single guy.

    My husband used to be an older single guy who ran a company as its CEO. He employed some extremely hot young babes who routinely flirted with him. They never flirted with him in his younger days when he was a tech support guy. But as soon as he had power, phone numbers were finding themselves all over his desk. And bright, inviting smiles given in the break room at any opportunity.

    He wasn’t a stupid guy. He knew he could have slept with any one of them. And he knew it wasn’t because they loved HIM. They wanted a boost in their career. As the CEO of the company, he could give them a boost. Sex for money. Or um, higher pay. Better job. Same thing.

    Being an outsider to Anusara, I can’t really comment for sure but from what I’ve read it seems like these ladies got something by sleeping with John. Something perhaps an older, less attractive woman wouldn’t get.

    When a colleague of mine in grad school got a fellowship after giving into the advances of a senior professor, I was told that this kind of thing happens in life. It’s how some women get ahead. And in that sense, it’s consensual.

    That’s why I’m not sure JF thinks he did anything “wrong.” (I don’t know and I’m clearly assuming, which we all know where that will lead! 🙂 But from his interview in elephant, it seems like he doesn’t really “get it.” The reason older, single guys shouldn’t sleep with their young and sexy employees is because it sends a very damaging message to his other employees and teachers who aren’t able to have this kind of advantage. It ruins the corporate culture. It breeds resentment. It puts everything on a level of sexual competition between women, which if you’ve ever been in the midst of such a feud you’ll wish you’d just kept it in your pants. I’m sure JF is wishing the same right now.

    (Or…he could have simply asked them to resign and then engage in a consensual relationship. That, I think, would have revealed everything he needed to know and is learning now.)

    • Katy, I so love your post. You have outed the secret of beautiful young women. I remember when I was young, how i would notice the extra privileges and opportunities given me by older physicians. Not being a generally coy or manipulative woman, I remember laughing and taking advantage of what was offered. I also remember noting that my less attractive friends didn’t get the same advantages. Now I no longer have that advantage (I’m still beautiful, in a deeper way, but I no longer have my youth). Luckily I have the advantage of wisdom that aging gives me. It however would not give me the in to a powerful older man looking to meet some unconscious needs. Meanwhile, we all have to look deeply at the harm this message has given to the world about yoga–not just about Anusara. Is yoga for all? Will it serve the needs of an aging population? Can you participate when you don’t fit into all those scant sexy yoga clothes?

  10. Anusara is still Anusara. Tantra is still Tantra, & isn’t what you seem to think that it is. JF is still JF. and yeah, it is wrong for a man to sleep with a married woman. But we don’t know the circumstances – recall that he is a greatly-beloved man surrounded by the most beautiful women in the world.
    The only man who completely refused temptation is Jesus, and we can be pretty sure that JF isn’t JC :-).
    So I contend thta nothing has changed, except that we now know what we knew before – that JF is a real man, not a Saint.

    • Thanks Dale for your input. I agree with you completely. “Anusara IS still Anusara, Tantra IS still Tantra… J.F IS still J.F.” And your absolutely correct, we don’t know the circumstances. But I’m not interested in maintaining the static, I’d like to raise consciousness and really what circumstances could possibly excuse this behavior from a great leader? I do not fail to empathize with the potential difficulties of a powerful man surrounded by beautiful women, but I DO expect integrity from John, just as I would expect it of all those with which I choose to enter into close relationships. I haven’t lost sight of the good in John or the brilliant system he’s put forth. But at the moment, shining the light on those points is a misdirection in my opinion. I remain deeply devoted to the system of Anusara yoga and it’s kula. I will resume my asana studies with John only when and if I’m certain he’s walking the walk. I don’t need him to be JC, but I do need him to wake up and get real. I hope those closest to him who have formed the yoga bubble that allowed for his delusion to manifest and go unnoticed will step up and be a good friend by being very real with him now and holding him accountable in the future. That’s the only way he’s going to heal and it’s the only way we’re going to raise consciousness and create real good from this difficult time.

  11. Dale,
    What defines a “real man” in your opinion? I know a real man when I look at the behavior of my Father and my Husband. I fully trust them. I hoped for the same….rather higher for my Teacher.

  12. “But if we discount the mistakes of our leaders by passing them off as “human” we fail to hold them accountable and this damages the integrity of us all.” Exactly. Thank you for stating it so clearly.
    P.S. That’s “principles of alignment,” not “principals.”

  13. From my experience with Kripalu yoga’s fallen guru, there will be a core of students who will hang around no matter what the teacher has done. This is a huge moment for the Anusara community to ask JF to be responsible for his actions and to take leave of absence from teaching. You guys need to either boycott this upcoming intensive or demand another senior Anusara teacher lead it.

  14. I admire you for the self reflection and ability to question yourself that you display in this article. If you go to Miami, I very much look forward to hearing your observations of yourself and what happens there. It is very good that your wife will be there as it helps so much to talk with someone who know you well. I would like to say that it is hard to hold center when with someone you love and admire and question and are upset with. If you haven’t read it, might I suggest you read my article from Bay Shakti prior to going, especially the parts on owning our projections and on projective identifications and the (long) process of release and reintigration. If you have, I’d suggest reading it again. This will be a challenge, and all for the ultimate good!
    Here’s the link

  15. Annie is one of my friends that is how I stumble to read this. Yes we all stumble in good ways and not so good ways. Like reading this article and reading the replies of all you wonderful people from the Yoga world. There is a saying that say please be patient GOD is not finished with me yet. Todd I applauded you in every way a person can celebrate another. Calling a spade a spade is not judging it is standing up for the truth we live in society that has become carpet sweeper throw it under the rug leave it there long enough and it goes away. It is said that the only real mistake is one we learn nothing from. I trust that we will all find great learning in each other. A repentful heart is one that admits a wrong and then does something about it..
    I love the things some of you wrote about Jesus. Did He not also say.” I am the Truth and the Light as each one of you Anusara yogi moves threw this time of reflection may you all find the inner peace you have inside. I know I have grown and feel truly inspired in my own love for the Llight to be all the Divine is in me…

  16. The crucial teaching is embedded in the Anusara invocation itself: Sat – chit – ananda.
    In recent years, John has taught only chit – ananda.
    SAT is the crucial foundation. Existence. Seeing what IS clearly and without flinching.
    When we restore SAT to the teachings, when we remember SAT each time we sing the invocation, when we live SAT in our lives and relationships…we are on the path of Sat – chit – ananda, the path of anusara.

  17. Hi Todd,

    Hope all is well and you enjoy Miami! Actually, as a penance I thought that John should be ordered to teach more classes. Ha! Then much to my surprise, I realized that the masses were calling for dismissal. I don’t believe in judging others, we all have secrets that can be misconstrued.

    I hate to bring this up, but I think this has been absent in the conversation, regarding the sex part, I hardly think that it was a Nina Simone, “I’ll put a spell on you, then you’ll be mine!!!” moment for the people involved. I am sure shaktipat energy was in full force. Also, I wonder how many people myself included are taking a negative stand because they were not ever “the chosen ones”! I may be exploding a grenade here, but hey, why do we care so much about who other people are sleeping with and why should they be punished?

    If the website and the vitriol, of which I hope I am not contributing, did not exist, and we heard the story by word of mouth, would the effect still be the same, or are we somehow attached to the permanence of leaving our mark on the internet of where we stand as teachers, so as to say where we are.

    Someone mentioned a house cleaning. Last year, while attending the Miami conference, there were many people on their computers, sending facebook updates and others having public displays of affection while John was talking about matrika. Why do I bring this up? To me they weren’t aligned but they were still there, why, only they know. Maybe now, hopefully now, the workshop will be filled with people with real interests.

    There are also those teachers who have experienced something similar before with Amrit Desai at Kripalu. He fled from the ashram in the NE to Florida without a peep of an explanation. Maybe I am seeing the good too much here, but we have heard from John, Desiree and Ross Rayburn, so times are changing. Kaipalu has survived and Anusara will survive. Even though I am not certified nor seek to be certified I secretly teach it. Shhhh…. And to the committee, I have taken immersions and teacher trainings with Sianna Sherman, (Todd, you’ll vouch for me I hope)

    Blessings to all and as Darren says, just practice. “You do your yoga, I’ll do mine.” -EB

    Om shanti,


    • Dear Nick,
      I was wondering too, why all this agitation about this sex stuff.
      Over here in Germany most of the Yogis I know are rather relaxed on this issue. Maybe it

  18. Since John Friend claimed all the work that Doug Keller did related to alignment and other principles, how could one not feel he would lead an additional destructive path toward what we collectively call “yoga”. He brought many good ideas, but the one that failed him was his ego.

    • Nobody’s throwing stones here, but if you believe that nobody is worthy of making judgements unless their “pure” and without “sin,” then I offer this: we’re all “sinners” as defined in the bible. We also all need relationships. Without some form of judgement, us “sinners” cannot have healthy relationships as every relationship is built on a foundation of trust and it takes judgement to know if trust exists. I understand the word “judgement” carries many negative connotations but I’m using the definition of the word: “the evaluation of evidence in making a decision.” As long as we go on withdrawing judgement due to your own past mistakes, we’re either doomed to isolation or sentencing ourselves to dishonest relationships. Are we really all too impure to use evidence to make decisions that help us avoid dishonest relationships?

      • Dear Todd, thanks for picking up my comment here.
        I agree with your definitions, putting the notions trust – relationship – judgement – in a meaningful and positive connection.

        I am not fully familiar with all the details that John Friend is recently accused of, though I am making my way pluckily every day through a lot of related blog posts, comments and news of the causa JF.
        And the overall impression I get is that a man is being slaughtered in public.
        And I remain sceptic, I would like to hear both sides.
        Another question that challenges me is: can a Yoga teacher have a private life at all? Or is he/she like a Saint, like the Pope; a public figure 24/7?

  19. It seems to me that:

    1. John Friend is not repentant, he is exhibiting remorse because he got caught.
    2. If he were truly repentant he would have made efforts to control his behavior prior to his behavior being outted.
    3. He did not stop to think that by seducing a married woman he could break or at the very least fracture a family unit.
    4. He used his power to seduce young women, or allowed himself to be seduced.
    5. When caught and offered a chance to redeem himself he punted.

    You can spiritualize this until the cows come home but even with eyes wide shut this is an example of a powerful man abusing his position of power.

    To Hareesh, you make many lovely points but to this one ..:
    “But neither you nor I are the ones to judge John’s actions and sentence him accordingly in the public square. An Ethics committee, elected by Certified Teachers — that I can get on board with as an accountability measure. ”

    To this, I say, is poppycock (with all due respect)! It seems counterintuitive to me to get on board with an ethics committee of JF devotees. Seriously?

    Yes, I can judge because I am a women and know what it’s like to be used by a man when young and vulnerable and thrilled to be noticed. Yes, I can judge because I have invested time and love and energy and finances in studying Anusara yoga. Yes, I can judge because the facts speak for themselves and he has admitted to his actions. Yes, I can judge because I have an ethical core and as such can make ethical evaluations.

    The human good involves natural potentialities that we strive to actualize through deliberative choices. Ethics itself is a human potential, the possibility of becoming a person who can live well with others. I believe that there is something essential, universal, and unified in human nature that shapes the idea of a common good. Values constitute our very being-in-the-world.

    Ethics draw us and motivate us to a commitment to positive action in the face of a counter-impulse, especially when the counter-impulse is pleasurable.

    In the Abhinavagupta doctrine of aesthetics the sense that everything is connected with everything else provides a basis for an understanding of a work of art in which even a fragment can reflect the beauty of the whole.

    Because everything is connected, I argue that my ethical core ( albeit a fragment) can sense when something is misaligned in something I am drawn to. In this case the JF effect on the Anusara kula.

  20. Many wonderful thoughts and insights on this website that it has inspired me to say thank you. So. Thank you. This was so lovely and makes a very strong resonance. “The human good involves natural potentialities that we strive to actualize through deliberative choices. Ethics itself is a human potential, the possibility of becoming a person who can live well with others. I believe that there is something essential, universal, and unified in human nature that shapes the idea of a common good.” Let us wish these people well and hope they return to their path of thoughtfulness, honesty and care. John Friend, especially. We all stumble and can only hope to learn, grow and become our caring selves through our choices and experiences. Thanks.

  21. John was never correct when he said that Tantrik philosophy teaches “intrinsic goodness”. It doesn’t, it teaches intrinsic *allness.* Since all is within us, the question is simply what do we choose to cultivate, and what do we express? – Christopher Wallis

  22. I experimented with viewing your web site in my new iphone 4 and the page layout does not seem to be correct. Might wanna check it out on WAP as well as it seems most smartphone layouts are not working with your web page.

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