With the yoga world recently shocked by the stunning expose of John Friend, I’ve had to look within at the troubling emotions that have bubbled up due to discontent with an American Yoga Icon.
I call him a guru because he fits the definition, a teacher, a leader, a spiritual guide. Whether it is convenient for him to call himself so, now amongst the hypocritical behavior that has been exaggerated and over-emphasized by the trend-happy media, matters not. What matters is that we have to accept that humanimals are weak, no matter how high we ascend––even in a system of yoga that has rescued so many depressed living souls.
Personal weakness is at the very core of the issue. We all have them. It’s the admitting and the acknowledging of them, that truly opens our eyes to their reality.
It is easy to look at John in the spotlight, in words, in interpretations, and cast negative energy his way for faults that are no different than our own.
Sure, John was weak to the animalistic desires of his body, despite studying, realizing, and even preaching Patanjali’s pure yogic principals. The yoga moral commandments named and listed as a guide for human interaction with the natural world.
As yogis, we probably take the 8 limbs to heart. By considering the simple truth of living life according to these simple universal ideals, I have witnessed a transformation within my entire self. This transformation is something many have witnessed in the process of diving deeper into yoga practice.
This is something we all knew was evident in this great man who graciously spreads yogic love worldwide. Yet, it left me asking many simple questions taking me back to the core of my practice.
What is yoga all about, why do we practice, why do we love to yoke mind, body and spirit in simple moment-to-moment union?
Why do we put so much faith in the practice, that to many is just another form of exercise?
But to those within the path, it becomes something of a religion, a way of life, a method to celebrate the beauty within all of us by coming together to acknowledge the truths of our place in the greater world around us.
Naturally, we have been shown the way by our very own gurus—teachers who are just a little further along the way than we are ourselves––guides into unknown territory showing us more light than we could imagine and that light somehow continues to reflect from inside us. It Brightens us—lifts us up out of the muck that we have been treading in our whole lives. Suddenly we realize everyone of us is like the lotus flower. Suddenly our awe and respect for those who’ve taken this path towards self-realization grows, as we ourselves grow, reflecting shared understanding.
It’s a beautiful process of growing your perspective and yet, you must remain grounded in roots clinging to the instability of the world below. Life will always be about living in balance by breathing through the moment-to-moment difficulties.
The more we grow, the further away our grounding becomes. As we look around us and see similar souls shooting for the stars, we find comfort in the elevation––in the journey. Comfort in the knowing that when it gets hard, when you lose your drishti, when your balance is faltering, you can reach out and hold onto a friend growing right there alongside you.
Together, reflecting the inner peace that can only come from your one body, mind and soul but is always discovered amongst the relationship of one to another.
Thus, we strengthen a wobbly stem, the weak points transforming into the strongholds that help us go further. It is a beautiful process, one that we continually undertake, one that re-occurs day by day by day, this is life. Everyday we must make the choices to make ourselves happy.
This is the ultimate personal test. It is up to you, everyday, to stand strong in your affirmations and to abide in the morals and ethics that have helped you along the way.
Get stronger in the fragile areas for always will we bend at the weak spot. This is the beauty of yoga, this growing, this daily blossoming. The deeper you dig at the roots of the practice the higher you grow, the higher the propagation, the more potential for delicate areas to buckle under the weight, the more opportunities to strengthen where the universe deems most important. We will always be tested in this manner, every single human being that has walked this earth, has been given the difficult tasks that expose their weakest humanity.
It is difficult to witness, but fear not, John’s growth shall be monumental. To have grown so tall and then to bend at the base will send you plummeting to earth faster than you ever thought possible.
Inevitably hitting the earth with the force necessary to knock thought provoking sense of the metamorphosis necessary to grow, yet higher into your state of being. The suffering will be great, the cloud of dust will blind you for a time, but in this darkness you will be shown the light, you must make the choice to go to it or to ignore it.
Strengthen and grow or lay your entire side to the ground and become entirely of the earth once again. This process touches us all, just as John’s fall has shaken yogis everywhere around the world. We are all witnesses to what might not seem so, but truly is a divine process. Only it happens so quick, in this now time, this forever space.
We are left sitting right here questioning so much untold future, as we take in the happenings and try to make sense of the unsensible. Yet we get lost in the flux of now and forever.
So where do we look?
Naturally, we look up the ones who’ve guided us on the path to self-realization. Now, suddenly we find ourselves alone at the top, wondering which way to go, when the ones who have shown us the way have shrunk right before our eyes.
Moment-to-moment living, happenings occurring here and now in reality and also in your brain, in your reactions, in living life as a spiritual being in a human body. What is not seen, is the line of energy that very well may manifest in more growth. The energy that will feed of our despair and rekindle in our forgiveness, fostering growth that will again overtake you, unless you yourself become stronger in all your weakest points––stronger in your acceptance of the faults that make us all animals in a human body.
I have never met John Friend, but I feel as though I know him. I am not the best asana yogi and do not think I will ever be able to move my self in the ways that Darren Rhodes can transform himself. I am not Patanjali, Sivananda, Iyengar, Friend, or Stavros. I am who I am. I know that I am a sage hidden in a man’s body; I know I will show it in time, but right now, all you see is just another boy on the journey to becoming a man. That is exactly where I am. This is my path and this is just one of my steps to greater growth.
Maybe you see the potential but none know it like one knows himself. This is where we all falter in voicing our opinions, our judgments, yelling at the bumps on the path of one man. We think we should because the fact is that he has placed himself in the spotlight. This is exactly the medicine John needs to grow and he is getting it, but it is also what you need. Your critique of John is your critique of yourself. These are the contemplations a true yogi asks; these are the timeless approaches of wisdom—to be most critical of yourself, but forgiving of all others.
Thus, this letter is to you John. To the point in your path where you reside, I seek you out to show my faith in your energy, even if our eyes have never met.
The purity of my energy and my spirit glow in the light around me. I am figuring out how to make others glow, so that they too can share this light. John has done this to thousands of grateful yogis, yet, like so many his weak spots have grown brittle in his ascent to higher influence, to higher shared lightness.
His weak spots, hidden for so long, are now exposed for all to see. Naturally we all look to the bandaged place. It is what we do as Rumi so eloquently reminds us. This is where the light will enter you, this is where real transformation will occur.
So, as we all stare at our friend’s bandaged place, may our light help him to grow and spread more love. May he learn of the many mistakes that inevitably come from a powerful perch atop.
Your energy is not diminished, your energy is temporarily changed friend, I sense it and thus I know it. I know that our paths will converge one day or another. Someday I will make it happen, or you will, but either way, have faith that this yogi believes in you.
We are the only ones that can heal ourselves; we are the only ones that can unleash the boundless potential inside. The universe challenges us in ways that hurt, but ultimately help us when we have let our vulnerabilities show.
Only you know how much potential is potentially yours. We are all capable of growing to the very highest and then a little higher, only you can envision it fully and only you can attain it and then go further. To me this is yoga, this very realization that always can you go just a little further if you are mindful of the pilgrimage that has to occur within yourself. May this time of concentration on one yogi, expose the very yogi within us all as we try to go a little further. May we learn from the mistakes around us and grow higher, may we together reconstruct the way of life we collectively choose to more closely resemble.
May the moment to moment utopia in our minds become reality as we reach a state of special awareness by focusing on the simplicities inherent in getting us there. May we together help our friend to grow in the areas that are his weakest. May we reflect similar imperfections within ourselves and let the light pour in.
May my words reach you in a state of peace as we walk the path towards the stars, towards the union of mind, body, spirit and the universal soul that yogis everywhere share. May we blossom together for always will we be stronger in union than in individuality.
May we share the love that seems to be the answer to everything. No matter what, love will lead you toward the light, may we journey there as one.
Much love to you Friends.
Editor: Lindsay Friedman
Heart… earth bunny brian sun… aka Brian Nolte… a 28 year old yogi finding his roots, shooting for the stars, studying in the energetic yogic community of central Oregon… He is an artist, a yoga instructor, a carpenter, a writer, but mostly a listener… He is presently on the path to realizing his fullest potential by living exactly in the present moment and following his heart… He is saddened by the darkness but sees the seed of light illuminating the way towards the personal revelations that will transform the way humanimals live on the planet Earth.