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October 06, 2005

Comments

snakehairedgirl

You won.

beth

amazing.

Brenda

Wow, thanks for telling your story, you are still shimmering and full of life and love. I will be thinking of you and blessing your performance,
Brenda

steve

Katherine, your open and honest style (with strangers who read this) is compelling and makes me feel a stronger connection with you than most people I have come to know. I pray all the best for your future (amazing) life. How could I not love you.
Steve

Shelley Noble

Fantastic piece, Kat! I loved your take on those experiences. Guru and ashram, check, twenty-five years solid. You're so smart and talented. You seem to be doing just great in your life, to me, for what it's worth, BRAVA!

Rob

Katherine, I think your written narrative is very powerful. It must have been very difficult to perform because you do not have the space to get into your character. You are the character and the emotional response to these recounted events have the power to tie you in knots. You are very brave to have done this. I cannot imagine doing this kind of thing myself. Despite the pain of doing this I am sure you have learned some valuable lessons.

I found it interesting that your ashram required a vow of celibacy. I guess I am not surprised about this, only disappointed. I do not see how one could achieve enlightenment by deliberately repressing this aspect of incarnation. Sex, of course is so complicated that it is much easier to ignore or repress it than to really understand it. First there are the biological issues of potential reproduction. Then there are the public health aspects of STD’s to consider. Then the social aspects of age, race, socio-economics, family dynamics and so forth. Then comes the psychological aspect of expectation, intimacy, disparities in personal power, and misunderstandings of every sort imaginable.

It is no wonder that a closed community would want to just avoid this whole topic by repressing it. Of course, it is too powerful to completely suppress and the metaphysical power of sex then manifests itself in all sorts of ways both positive and negative that are ignored and/or remain unresolved. If the official policy is suppression then how can the metaphysical power of sex ever be mastered for good in the life of the people? If God is in us and we in him then when we make love with another person we are we not making love with a part of God? God created these needs and desires in us did he not? Why would he want us to scorn and compartmentalize this wonderful gift?

As I read this I wondered if Gurudev was only looking for victims to satisfy his lust or was he seeking co-creators of a transcendent experience? The community vow of celibacy created a powerful cognitive disruption that would tend to sabotage this natural progression if this was his intent. Was this glass half full or half empty? How much better would it have been to include sexual power up front in the path to enlightenment in this community? That way a conscious decision could have been made up front to either accept or reject this experience instead of hiding in the bushes?

Kath

Katherine, I found your piece very compelling!! I too lived at the ashram for quite a few months in 1976-7ish, then stayed involved for about 15 years afterwards, while living elsewhere. It is very clear that you lived there, from many details only a resident knows and that was what occurred!! I didn't attend the week-long sessions after the news came out and Amrit left Kripalu, as I had severed ties a few years earlier, but I heard about them. We got letters explaining some of the agreed-upon facts. I just wondered about a couple of things. I know the word 'rape' was used, not implying physical force, but as in such a profound position of trust and authority, one could be seen to have lost the ability to make a choice. Was there ever any physical force talked about? I suspect not, if only because it wouldn't be needed or desired by the 'perpetrator'! Secondly, I had only heard about three confirmed or acknowledged sexual 'partners'. I can imagine that there were more, but actually 'dozens'? I'd have thought it would have come out earlier. For me, 3 is enough, as what was so terrible was so much more than breaking celibacy or marriage vows and possibly even the trust, but the wholescale cover-up and denial/lying for many years. That is horrible. I saw part of one of the situations myself and I did know all of the 3 confirmed women. The one I saw was a young wife and mother, one of the original handful of disciples, suddenly leave the ashram for California, permanently. Very odd. Apparently, she'd made the accusations and they turned it all back on her, saying she was disturbed, deluded, whatever, and kept up the story for years! That was in the 70's and the husband married someone else, who you'd know, keeping the child to be raised at the ashram!! Very nasty!! That makes me very angry. Good for you for trusting your instincts and running away, but I'm sorry those instincts were honed in other exploitive situations.

Did you ever hear about an earlier scandal at Kripalu where a young man died of malnutrition? It was written up in People Magazine, with a grim picture of Krishnapriya and Gurudev. It was much more austere in the early days and it is imaginable that that could happen. They said he must have been anorexic and nobody was charged with anything. I had to leave the ashram myself as I wasn't physically strong or healthy enough, but if I'd refused to give in and kept pushing, I would have ended up in the hospital eventually myself probably! It felt terrible walking away from what felt like such a great opportunity, but it is fine...the spiritual journey continues wherever you are and my 'ashram' is here and now, always.

I still value my disciple years and I got an enormous amount of good from it. In the last days, what finally pushed me to sever ties was what I thought I saw Gurudev doing to fund raise, when they were first building and establishing the Lenox location. He'd get the energy raised over a weekend retreat and by Sunday, people were pledging huge amounts that they couldn't afford and I knew they'd be racked with guilt and confusion later when they broke their pledges. He seemed to be consciously manipulating the energy and them for that purpose and it looked very wrong to me. The leaders, of course, said it was my 'money karma'...humph! I found it hard to move on, but I had trusted myself in the beginning to 'follow the guru', so I decided I better trust myself to leave when that was the inner message.

All the best in your creative endeavours!!! I'm still a very spiritual person, basically Christian, these days. Not surprisingly, I haven't connected at all seriously with any formal group since then! I wish you very well and a warm and hearty "Jai sister" to YOU today!!!

Kath, formerly known as Nilima

John Vajra

Thanks you for sharing your story. Years later similar abuses continue to reoccur with Marc Gafni and other spiritual teachers.

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