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Oh Dear.....

federicafederica seeker of the clear blue skyIts better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

is this a series of allegations that will bring the chickens home to roost, or merely another sensational flash-in-the-pan that will prove to be unfounded...?

Sexual assault accusations

Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2015

    I saw that somewhere, recently. I think it's true. It's good that these Eastern yoga and cult leaders are finding out that there are standards to abide by in the West, the rule of law applies, and transparency is of growing importance. The era of cults with covert abuse routinely going on is, hopefully, drawing to a close.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    No idea. But when they say "hot yoga founder, " do they mean the founder is "hot" or the yoga? :lol:

    dhammachickRowan1980DhammaDragonmmo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The Yoga. Everyone is wrapped up, within a closed room heated to 105 degrees. According to the article. The Guru wears nothing but speedos.....

  • howhow Veteran

    There are other pretty credible forums that have been reporting more of the back story of this debacle since the 24th.
    It does seem like the classic- power corrupts and absolute power corrupts...........
    Add an unquestioning devotional fervor to the mix and why should anyone be surprised at the outcome.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    The information I've read seems to indicate the women involved are probably not lying. Bikram always kinda creeped me out, just a sense I got about him I never met him or anything. It's (the accusations and cases) been ongoing since like last January (2014) so I was kind of surprised to see it just really hit the major news wires in the past few days.

    @zenguitar lol the yoga. It's a series of yoga movements done in a room set to a hot temperature. Bikram, or hot, yoga.

    Not excusing the behavior by any means, but I wonder how much of it does come from cultures they live in before coming to the west where we don't accept that kind of crap. When we lived in a bigger city, there were often issues with kids from other countries who had immigrated (Somalia and others) and the way they dealt with problems was astounding, and they truly couldn't understand what they had done wrong because where they were from, that is how you handled problems. Got a problem with a classmate? You follow them and beat them at the park with sticks. Usually when teachers like him, or Buddhist teachers, or others, come to the US (or Europe, or whatever) they are invited, asked to come by different groups. It seems those groups should be talking to the people they invite and let them know what standards are here.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    It will be interesting to see where this goes. I didn't believe the Bill Cosby accusations at first, but as they piled on...well, getting pretty obvious there is something there. I wonder if the same avalanche of accusations will occur in this case.

  • @federica said:
    The Yoga. Everyone is wrapped up, within a closed room heated to 105 degrees. According to the article. The Guru wears nothing but speedos.....

    Yeah, inventing a form of yoga that's practiced in extreme heat is a great excuse to go parading around in your underwear in front of scantily-clad women.

    dhammachick
  • @federica said:
    is this a series of allegations that will bring the chickens home to roost, or merely another sensational flash-in-the-pan that will prove to be unfounded...?

    I was nearly killed by Bikram yoga.

    I regularly went past a Hindu ashram, one day having free time decided to walk to the ashram and check out the temple dharma. The main temple was empty and contained pictures and quotes of their holy men. I was very impressed. I noted that they also did yoga and provided mats. Wonderful. I sat meditating o:) on a mat whilst awaiting any devotee regulars.

    Soon the devotees arrived. Seemed the morning was being devoted to a physical yoga class, people were rolling out mats . . . I was only interested in the religious, meditation side but when in Rome . . .

    Then the heat arrived. Still thinking I was in an ashram, I agreed to participate at the suggestion of the yogi facilitator, who seemed very keen on my participation. Just meditating was not an option it seemed. Before I realized it I was engaged in an advanced Bikram class that I was completely unprepared for. I had stumbled into the hell realms. >:)

    It started vigorously but then speeded up. Doing the same strenuous fanatical routine, sweating, straining, with 'encouragement' from the main yogi. Eventually after an eternity of pain and exertion, the corpse pose was introduced. In my case, out of breath, muscles over extended, I collapsed into savasana. The nazi yoga 'teacher' had exhausted me. The regulars were clamouring for more marathon yoga. The yoga teachers efforts to rouse me from the corpse posture went unheeded. I needed time to die in peace. I spent the second half of the even more fanatical routine contemplating my entry into the Purelands and the faint hope of recovery.

    Apparently it was a 'yoga studio' in the style of an assram [sic]. They even charged me for the privilege of being unskilfully abused. I did enjoy the students advice to attend a beginners class in future and the return walk was cool and my NDE amused me and probably prepared for my later picnics in hell . . .

    As for the main Bikram heated scandal? No surprise from this karmic survivor . . . Never returned and the franchise has closed. B)

    DhammaDragon
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Sadly I think it's true too.

    @Dakini said:
    I saw that somewhere, recently. I think it's true. It's good that these Eastern yoga and cult leaders are finding out that there are standards to abide by in the West, the rule of law applies, and transparency is of growing importance. The era of cults with covert abuse routinely going on is, hopefully, drawing to a close.

    Indeed :+1:

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @lobster said: "Apparently it was a 'yoga studio' in the style of an assram [sic]."
    Maybe try Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies, instead. :p

    lobster
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    is this a series of allegations that will bring the chickens home to roost, or merely another sensational flash-in-the-pan that will prove to be unfounded...?

    @federica -- Your question is too narrowly focused, as if one or the other options provided some kind of 'answer' or 'explanation' of the issue. Having lived through three sex-and-power-based eruptions at the Zen center I once attended (and you may well ask why I hung around for three) ... and having seen how it all panned out in the end (from the 1970's to the present) ... well, I know that the bright-eyed devotees may be offended (it's not my teacher after all ... my teacher is yummy and enlightened and wise and kind and holy, etc. etc.) but the sociopathic-asshole gene is an equal-opportunity employer just as the supportive and loving and sincere gene is: It's not a matter of either/or; it's a matter of both/and. Should we write such behavior off? Absolutely not. But should we expect it to be solved with heart-felt get-togethers at which 'deep listening' and ethical manifestos evolve? Get real!

    The Vatican, the Jews, the Boy Scouts, nunneries and monasteries, posh prep schools, well-heeled universities and for all I know Islamic State ... same stuff, different venue. Each example of off-the-tracks behavior may be heart-rending and cruel and hypocritical and infuriating ... but another TED talk and another avowal of transparency and regret simply won't cut the real-time mustard. No one, as far as I can figure out, can talk human nature to death.

    Is my outlook bleak and pessimistic and too sweeping when it comes to spiritual adventure? I don't think so, but of course others seeking improvements and relief in their lives are likely to disagree... there is a personal necessity/insistence about praising whatever spiritual discipline 'I' follow: Why else should I take it up? My ethical and rarefied and pure way is the one true way ... it's the other guys who have the problem. :) OK ... knock yourself out... but at least take the trouble to investigate and find out what is true ... not true from my point of view, but true from your own.

    Spiritual discipline does not mean being some kind of credulous, forelock-tugging wuss. Call out the hypocrites and damn all damnable behavior! Stick up for those who are wounded! Live the outrage! Play the psychological explanation card! Wax smooth and wise and understanding and at peace!

    I can't tell anyone what to think or how to get around the cruelties of glowing gurus. Everyone has their own responsibility. My own bottom line is this: Religion is a lie (about like anything else) and it is up to the devotee to find the truth and healing properties within that lie. This may sound cynical, but I don't mean it with a cynical tone that a thoughtless atheist might employ. Lying is not a good idea, but how and why it's not a good idea is hardly contained in any book or text or religious group hug. It's worth some investigation ...

    What are things like when they don't need fixing and we all do what we can to fix them?

    lobsterhowHamsaka
  • lyralyra New
    edited February 2015

    Wonderful and thought-provoking comment @genkaku. I heartily agree. I have appreciated your posts on the teacher student relationship, especially this one:
    http://info-buddhism.com/Ethics-in-the-Teacher-Student-Relationship.html
    Hearing your history with 3 sanghas, now I understand why this topic is on your mind. I particularly liked and identified with these lines of your reply:
    "Spiritual discipline does not mean being some kind of credulous, forelock-tugging wuss. Call out the hypocrites and damn all damnable behavior! Stick up for those who are wounded! Live the outrage!"
    and
    " Religion is a lie (about like anything else) and it is up to the devotee to find the truth and healing properties within that lie. This may sound cynical, but I don't mean it with a cynical tone that a thoughtless atheist might employ. Lying is not a good idea, but how and why it's not a good idea is hardly contained in any book or text or religious group hug. It's worth some investigation …"
    If you haven't read this yet, I think you would appreciate this article by John Welwood on spiritual bypassing:
    www.johnwelwood.com/articles/TRIC_interview_uncut.doc

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @genkjaku It does seem like people keep playing out the same old script, doesn't it? Our instinctive social behavior is so compelling that people never see or admit they're being jerked around by their own minds.

    Loyalty to our own tribe, and loyalty to our leaders. Our identity becomes so wrapped up in belonging to a group that we attack like disturbed wasps if anyone dares to challenge us or especially our leader. And being deliberately blind to reality because the alternative is seeing painful truths? Shall we talk global warming denial?

    Looking at wiki, this guy won some yoga contests in India and then came over here and started a business giving yoga classes. Fine. He copyrighted his particular series of yoga poses? Amazing. Didn't know a person could do that, but we live in a society where the concept of using one mouse click instead of two to activate a link was patented. So you pay your money, get your franchise, find a room with a good heater and off you go to make people sweat for money. That's what gyms do all the time.

    But that instinctive social behavior creeps in. Reading this woman's story, she paid this guy thousands of dollars to be taught how to do contortions in a hot room. Yet, he had HER giving him massages while he and his disciples watched movies? And neither she nor anyone there were able to step back and see how freaky that was because our minds are hardwired to treat the tribe we join as family.

    Amazing.

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I wonder if, from the point of view of the victims, it has anything to do with being (even voluntarily) put into a culture, and in the case of some of these women another country (I think the one woman who has chosen to release her name was in India with him) and them not knowing the culture. I wonder how much they initially go along with things not only because of the skewed idea of student-master-family, but because perhaps they think it is the norm in a different culture. Again, I'm not suggesting this makes it ok. But how different cultures view and treat women is very, very different as we've discussed before and just because someone becomes a Buddhist teacher, a yoga teacher etc doesn't mean that part of their cultural upbringing disappears even if the words they learn and speak don't match up with their actions. Our cultures, to a degree, are contained in our genetics, including some behaviors of our ancestors.

    Even the other day my teacher said by all means, yes we should investigate our teachers or potential teachers. But that once we investigate and decide this is what we want, our devotion should be full and the investigation should be stopped. Obviously, in our world, that isn't the case and no matter how long you've been in any relationship with someone, if someone questionable happens it is ok to step back. But in his culture, that is how devotion to teachers works.

    Cinorjer
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    ...and that tradition of guru devotion is one thing that makes me nervous about Tibetan Buddhism. I've never known my lama to do anything remotely unethical, but I'm not close to him either. I suppose you could say I've examined him for years, but I'm still not willing to engage in unquestioning faith.

    Hamsaka
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    In the case of my teacher, that level of devotion isn't required, he never asks about it or anything. He is more concerned with one's devotion to their path rather than to him. But he went into the monastery when he was 7, and that level of devotion to his root guru and his other teachers was expected.

    Rowan1980
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Dakini said:
    I saw that somewhere, recently. I think it's true. It's good that these Eastern yoga and cult leaders are finding out that there are standards to abide by in the West, the rule of law applies, and transparency is of growing importance. The era of cults with covert abuse routinely going on is, hopefully, drawing to a close.

    I do have to say that, to this day, Bikram is still one of my favourite yoga styles.

    I used to practise it at home, with a video of Raquel Welch, who used to be a pupil of Bikram, but they fell out after she published this fitness video without his permission.
    My only quibble with the system is, I no longer have 90 minutes to spare on yoga, which is the total time the routine takes when performed as a whole.

    Apparently, this style is not even Bikram's own personal trademark, but was put together by a former teacher of his in India, who conveniently passed away so that Bikram could make thousands of dollars out of it in America years later.
    He fell out with Raquel Welch for doing what he did to his former teacher, in a nutshell...

    But coming back to @Dakini's comment, about twenty years ago, I attended a yoga seminar with an Indian guru of sorts in Frankfurt.
    Somehow, the man got infatuated with me and during the 48 hours that the seminar lasted, he lavished me with unwarranted and unrequitted attention, in such an insistent way that I asked the hotel management to keep an eye on my bedroom door in the evening just in case (the seminar took place in a hotel, with overnight accomodation).

    The man wanted to persuade me to travel to India with him, and pursue a career as what today we know to be a Bollywood actress (did I mention I was young and fairly cute back then? :3 )

    But what bothered me the most, was that at a given moment in the seminar, he performed a massage on some of the attendants, of course I was among the chosen ones, and the man took every chance to grope me as much as he possibly could, only deterred by the fact that I squirmed his intrussive hands away as much as I possibly could.
    After this massage, I simply stealthed out of the seminar in a very unconspicous way.

    Every time I hear about guru abuse, I remember this ugly experience, which fortunately did not amount to something more serious.

    Cinorjer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    This is only vaguely related but someone mentioned it in this discussion about how can one patent yoga moves. It's odd to me, but then I realized that lots of people patent exercise, which is kind of funny. Tony Horton and Beachbody for example patent tons of it. It's kind of amazing someone can get so rich just from telling people to do cardio, and pushups and pullups...and if you put it on a calendar you can patent it, lol. Our world is bizarre. I imagine Bikram falls under the same type of thing, despite not specifically having a dvd home practice.

    Cinorjer
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I'm going to Patent my Moderating style.... :D

    Rowan1980CinorjerHamsaka
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