My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations.

Via on Feb 8, 2012

Update: two more key interviews/letters: Douglas Brooks, longtime colleague of John Friend’s, & Amy Ippoliti, senior Anusara teacher who recently resigned.

Update: my interview with an Anusara Yoga teacher who resigned today: an inside view re the Anusara teacher resignations and a conversation re: how to avoid repeating history. ~ ed,

5 Questions for Anusara Yoga’s John Friend regarding “jfexposed” anonymous accusations.

You and I go back for a few years. I like and respect you, as many of us do. That said, there’s obviously a situation here that’s serious, in that it affects people and, since that jfexposed exposé web site and then Yogadork’s blog has had much of the yoga world talking.

I hope you regard the below as tough questions that give you an opportunity to respond as fully as you are able. I acknowledge that there are legal issues that may prevent full answers in some cases, but here are the questions.

So I’d like to ask you five succinct questions.

These questions are important beyond the specific circumstances of what that web site alleged, in that this entire situation, it is my hope, can best serve the international yoga community as an example of honesty, transparency, learning from difficult “teaching moments,” and how we as a community can rise above gossip and rumor, and communicate to one another ethically and with sourced facts. This is why, until now, the only thing elephant has reported on is why we’re not reporting on this situation–until we have non-anonymous/agenda-driven public sources. This is what the NY Times’ Public Editor does, for example.

Reporting gossip and anonymous accusations that hurt real human beings isn’t what we do. This is how we do it: we aspire to deal with difficult situations with patience, guts, transparency, fairness and compassion. We as a community don’t chase gossip. This isn’t fun for anyone, but it can be an opportunity to show the wider world how we deal with crisis and scandal by example.

One final pre-ramble: elephant is not afraid of controversy, and we do not hold ourselves above any other media out there. We simply are aspiring to do responsible journalism—a craft and tradition I respect and aspire to practice. But in situations like this it’s important.

You understand I have to ask tough questions, and in so doing will do you and everyone concerned, on all sides, some small favor by giving this situation some air and light. If I’m accused of being a sycophant here, no one will respect a word you offer.

SITUATION
1. The situation is this: many of your senior teachers—Darren Rhodes, Christina Sell, Elena Brower, Amy Ippoliti, Laura Christensen, have resigned from Anusara over the past few months. We talked about that, you and I, here. Then, on Friday morning, this jfexposed web site, an anonymous web site alleging all sorts of things that we’ll get into here, appeared online. It was quickly passed around the yoga community. When I received it, I was depressed by the material in it, particularly the explicit photos, and asked my friends to stop passing it around. Clearly this was something serious that should be treated as more than gossip or entertainment.

The web site, which was hosted internationally so it was legally difficult to get taken down, alleged various things:
a) that you’d had various relationships, affairs with married women who in some cases have children.
b) That you had run some sort of corrupt pension scheme, which we detail in some legal context here.
c) that you smoked pot and had it shipped around
d) It showed graphic photos (with no face, so seemingly not adding anything to Mr. or Ms. Anonymous’ accusations, and skype screenshots of your conversations).

When I saw this I couldn’t help but think of these women’s families.

FIRST QUESTION
So the first question is, why should anyone care about this interview, when the last time I interviewed you about those teachers leaving, you were not fully honest about why they were leaving?

~

John Friend: First of all, thank you, Waylon, for giving me an opportunity to present my truth in the face of these accusations. 

This has been such a painful time for me as I self-reflect on how my personal decisions within my private life have become a source of deep anguish for my friends and community.

I am so deeply sorry for any harm that my actions have caused anyone.

I appreciate the opportunity to clear the record today since not all of the accusations were true, and yet they were posted on the internet six days ago without any verification. These are complicated issues about private matters involving many innocent people, and I will be as open and transparent as I can be. So, again, thank you Waylon for being the first person in the media to ask me about the truth in this matter. Thank you for being patient and waiting for the facts, the truth.

So, to answer your first question, every teacher has their own unique reason for moving on. When you asked me why the teachers left Anusara Yoga in the last few months, I shared with you the official reasons each teacher shared with me. Unequivocally, I can say that none of these teachers told me they were leaving because of these accusations or a problem with my ethical behavior. Every teacher has their own path, and I honor that wholly. I am grateful for the teachers who are standing behind the teachings of Anusara Yoga during this tender moment in time.

~

SECOND QUESTION
WTF? I’m not personally concerned with your relationships, or the relationships of the women who were outed on this web site. That’s not my business, or the business of my readers. I’m not very concerned with the wicca/witch/coven/tantra stuff, I personally find religion generally to be full of wonderful and rich myth and tradition. The Bible, for example, has all kinds of fantastic stories and rites or rituals in it.

But what is our business is ethics, and as a spiritual teacher and leader you are of course held to a higher standard. That said, we’re all adults here and the relationships were consensual, I understand. No one should be put on a pedestal as “perfect” only to be torn down. I don’t worship you, or anyone, and we all need to take responsibility for our own actions. That said, there is a power differential in any kind of intimate relationship between a student and a certified teacher. And while you’re not a medical professional, you have described yourself as a guru.

We all make mistakes. That said, how do you explain your actions, when obviously they have resulted in confusion, pain, and broken families?

~

John Friend: Waylon, first off, I do not use the term “Guru” to describe myself, and work hard to stay away from being so designated. Above all, I am a student of life and yoga, and then a teacher, and the founder of Anusara Yoga.

Secondly, it’s true. Over the course of my private life I have had consenting sexual relationships with women, some of whom have been my students and also my employees, some of which included married women.

It’s not fair for me to explain the intimate details of each relationship in a public forum, nor do I want to further violate the privacy of others as has been the case by this malicious attack. The most important thing to say here is I made some mistakes, yet my intent was never to do harm.

But as the details are spread across the internet, I see clearly where I can rise up as a man, and walk differently in my relationships with women.

~

THIRD QUESTION
Why is whomever is behind jfexposed accused you of all of this? Various web sites have been approached by him/her for some time now, s/he’s been trying to get her/his version of the story out there. Why is s/he seeking some sort of revenge? Are you suing her/him? What’s the overall situation?

~
John Friend: I do not know the motivations behind the viciousness of the attacks. It is clear to me that he has chosen to attack in a malicious, indiscriminate, and likely illegal way, which has been so hurtful and damaging to so many innocent people.

It should be noted that neither Anusara nor I have ever been in a lawsuit.

Lastly, I am practicing compassion for this guy, although very difficult, and yet I have no hate. I only pray for peace and healing for all.

~

FOURTH QUESTION
Pension? Below our readers will see a legal document exonerating Anusara of accusations of impropriety. But what’s the story with that, from your pov?

~

John Friend: As you can see from the following documents and public statements, here is the entire story regarding the pension.

> Pension Documents here.

~

FIFTH AND FINAL QUESTION
Going forward, on a personal level, how are you going to wake up and grow as a human being? Has this situation helped?

On a professional level—if it’s possible to separate the two as perhaps the world’s most famous and successful yoga teacher—do you have a career left? Will you be teaching? What’s going to happen with your community? Are more senior teachers going to leave? Will you be leading teacher trainings over the next 12 months?

On a greater community level, how can we all use this as a learning experience for how to rise above gossip and yet still be painfully, bravely transparent both as individuals, as a community, and in elephant’s case, as media?

~

John Friend: This is quite the one question!

…Study and practice is my life, and teaching is my dharma, which brings me the greatest joy.

I am awake to choices I have made that have opened the door for others to question who I am, and I know this is ultimately a gift. I am committed to being transparent and open, which I have not always been. To this end, I am fully evolving as a man, teacher and friend in the community and on this planet.

For the community, my deepest hope is this brings us closer together, in a more intimate and honest conversation around life. Some students and teachers will inevitably decide to move on, others will become more involved and take an expanded leadership role within the Anusara organization.

So, I envision the future of Anusara as including greater cooperation from all of our community.

We must all remember that any mis-steps by me do not invalidate any of the greatness of the Anusara yoga method.

I bravely step into the person I am today, and I am becoming in every moment. At once this is both deeply humbling and also a gift.

~

My best wishes and compassion to all involved. Thanks, John, for sitting down for these difficult questions.

I understand this situation is fully within a legal context and expect that you will be somewhat limited in your ability to answer. [editor's note: John and his friends did not ask me to get rid of any questions or say they couldn't answer anything above]. That’s not my concern. My job is to ask the questions thoroughly and fairly. I hope I’ve done that, and offer this interview in service to enlightened society.

I don’t personally find that exposed site fair, kind or helpful to you, the other persons concerned, or even the accuser. I think any of us could be exposed in such a way, with 80% being true and 20% agenda-driven anonymous stuff poisoning the lot. However, I do hope that site and yogadork’s report, and now this interview, plus your statement and document re: pension exoneration can ultimately be helpful.

We all need to learn to be more transparent and, as students, less caught up in rockstar syndrome. We can all embrace empowered non-theism as we Buddhists call it, and be kinder to one another as a community.

Deep breath! And deep bow to all concerned.

Yours in service as the ultimate smile,

Waylon

About Walk The Talk Show

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464 Responses to “My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations.”

  1. Zett Amora says:

    I say: "John, pass the leadership of your "business, corporation, kula" whatever you call it, over to several of your most trusted followees while you go take a time out somewhere…in an ashram or in re-hab. Allow those who were affected/afflicted by your actions and who are invested deeply in Anusara , to do their level best in getting this ship off the reef and turned around heading for the open seas again. You owe that much to them. No way can you take back what was done but you CAN do your level best now to practice making ammends." Many blessings on your way…holding you in the highest visions of the light.

    Loka samasta sukino bavantu

  2. Leah says:

    Maybe senior teaches left because they didn't want to pay 10 percent of their earnings to John-that is what he recently purposed a must for teachers. Why should they pay him? Teachers are popular because they are great teachers not only because they teach Aunsara, which by the way is hatha, yoga how it's been taught for years with just a newer twist on language.

  3. GetReal says:

    As dependable as the sun rises and sets, humans will forever be imperfect.

    The moment you latched on to somebody(in this case JF) and held them up on that pedestal, is the exact same moment you failed to see the truth. People are perfectly imperfect. Guru is teacher, not god. What did you learn from teacher.

    What is clear by reading these posts, is that 9 out of 10 yogis are so easily sucked into the hype. whether it be a car or an hair removal product, a yoga teacher or the latest yoga fashion.

    REAL yoga, and by that I mean the old masters, teach us that a yogi is SELF-realized. A teacher is a guide but it is up to us to find and see our own light.

    Krishnamurti requested to dissolve and then dismantled the organization called the Theosophical Society because they could no longer think for themselves and he recognized this. They held him up high as their leader and he saw the truth.

    Too bad most yogis in the west would rather mindlessly applaud each other. Of course its good to give encouragement but at what price does soul pay for the sake of the ego. Remember? The ego.

    Good luck on your yogic journey's, Let go of your ego. Clear your thoughts of dis-ease and clutter.

    citta vritti nirodha.

  4. Brad says:

    If the Anusara community wants to send a message, they would return their teacher and workshop certificates back to Texas

  5. jaltucher says:

    There are many traditions of yoga. I have two daughters. After all of this, my main question is, would I ever recommend to them Anusara as the way they should learn about kindness and ethics and yoga?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Your amazing wife touts Ashtanga, yes? Is Pattabhi Jois free of such accusations? No. My point is…don't we all make mistakes? Isn't it about how we learn from those mistakes that counts? While John's answers may have been less forthcoming than folks like, given the anger in this section, the downvoting and upvoting…I don't see that making mistakes disqualifies anyone from wisdom.

      • Guest says:

        As many others have pointed out here already, when John Friend's behavior is described merely as a "mistake" it communicates approval and even sounds like there should be acceptance of unacceptable behavior. According to what we know so far, John Friend's behavior was not ethical on many levels; it affected many people in different areas of his business and practice; it was ongoing; and it was intentional — not an accident — not a (singular) "mistake" — and not acceptable.

  6. [...] Yoga drama all over the place. [...]

  7. Rachel says:

    Thanks, Waylon, for being an ethical journalist. You didn't need to be nasty to Friend, he does a fine job of appearing nasty on his own. Ick!

  8. [...] http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/my-interview-with-john-friend-regarding-ijfexposedi-accusatio… Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({appId: "", xfbml: true}); FB.Event.subscribe('comment.create', function(response) { }); }; (function() { var e = document.createElement('script'); e.async = true; e.src = document.location.protocol + '//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js'; document.getElementById('fb-root').appendChild(e); }()); [...]

  9. SQR says:

    In case someone hasn't put this up here already:

    "Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live." (Pema Chödrön)

  10. jimmy says:

    I am someone that posted several comments that were critical of this interview. All of my comments were removed. GReat journalistic integrity!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Jimmy…Gleacher? Two of your articles went up, btw.

      As for comments, I haven't removed any lately…if Kate did, I've instructed / asked her only to remove personal attacks. We're find with criticism of John or whatever anyone thinks, we're here for dialogue, just keep it respectful/constructive. It's possible to be mad and critical and constructive and thoughtful all at once!

      Feel free to email me waylon at elephantjournal.com and I'll find your comments and we'll put them back up if they pass our comment policy. ~ Waylon

      • And I just checked–didn't pull any comments by this user. The only comments I deleted were personal attacks and one that named a specific female teacher as having appeared on the Jfexposed website. There are actually I ton I left up that probably don't truly pass our comment standards, but I know this is a heated, emotional issue for all involved so I cut a little slack.

  11. Murli says:

    None of this has anything to do with yoga.

  12. Josh Schrei Josh Schrei says:

    Here is my take on John and the issue of Goodness.
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/on-knowing

  13. Waylon Lewis says:

    Breaking update: Anusara restructured, remaining senior teachers meet with JF. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/letter-gro

  14. [...] now it appears that Anusara has grown beyond his reckoning—and hopefully beyond any damage his personal choices could do to this immensely transformative and empowering school of [...]

  15. vrti says:

    To paraphrase Dr. Robert Weiss. "Why do some men in powerful positions often live out a double life one public and one private that involves impulsive an compulsive sexual behavior. The source of sex addiction is often a lack of connection, genuine intimacy, and emotional support. People who compulsively seek out intensely pleasurable experiences are attending to their emotional needs in unhealthy ways. People in powerful positions often don’t make it a priority to care for themselves emotionally, and may start looking for a “quick fix.” Prominent celebrities and politicians who are often surrounded by fans, media figures, and paparazzi have fewer opportunities to connect with people in authentic and fulfilling ways, which can result in reckless behavior. In addition, people in powerful positions are often shielded from consequences. People with money, power, and fame often have poor feedback networks. They are surrounded by people who are dependent on them for employment or security, which makes them reluctant to tell their ‘boss’ that they need to seek help. Public figures often exhibit warning signs of a serious problem for years but fail to see them clearly because the consequences are minimized for political/financial reasons."

  16. [...] and/or students and freezing of pensions of employees (as reported by YogaDork last week). First interview by Elephant Journal, and John Friend’s reported first letter to Anusara teachers. Comments [...]

  17. Dave says:

    The Last Word on John Friend…

    So a guy starts a business and money rolls in. Only his biz isn’t accounting, or dentistry, or stocks, or construction…it’s teaching.

    But not just any ordinary teaching.

    It’s teaching phys.ed plus guru-type mystical rap to (mainly) women.

    And not just ordinary women, but younger women trying to look their best.

    His biz grows, along with his adoring female “student” clientele.

    Giving a talk, he sits on stage smiling a genuine smile. And why not!? For looking back at him in rapt attention are (mostly) younger, attractive women enthralled by his alpha-male aura.

    His biz model succeeds, he sells franchises, everyone’s happy. Win-win, or so it seems.

    Then what happens?

    He alienates some key, older (mainly) women followers because they find out…

    1) He lusts after attractive women

    2) He makes money & wants to keep it

    I know NOTHING of this Friend guy. Never followed his story, met him, or care to. He means zero to me as I’ve got my own gig. I also know NO ONE who practices his brand of Yoga.

    I am, however, an expert in another brand of Tantra Yoga. So I can say with authority: Very few Tantra-related groups escape organizational-disrupting earthquakes. And almost invariably it’s the guy-guru’s sexual-money lusting that precipitate these seismic events.

    Now we’re presented with the spectacle of some of John’s senior (mostly) female teachers leaving for various reasons. Again, I haven’t read their reasons, but I have to ask them: What did you expect?

    Young women made Friend’s enterprise succeed. They ARE his bread & butter. Many stayed with him for what-decades?-and became franchise teachers of John’s system. They got older-but many of his spandex-clad new students got younger.

    What hetero guy John’s age can resist having young women adore him?

    What businessman John’s age can resist consolidating his assets?

    I fail to see the problem with lusting after young, attractive women or financial control of one’s franchise.

    That said, Friend definitely deserves to lose his status as Yoga master teacher if…

    1- He’s married and cheating.

    2- He contractually cheated franchisees, or participated in other fiscal improprieties.

    3- He used his position of guru-like power to harm, manipulate, or otherwise corrupt or cajole his students, sexually or otherwise.

    4- He marketed his “John Friend” persona as an embodiment of ethereal, ungrounded Yoga pretentiousness, as a man above the lure of the flesh and money.

    Did John do any one or more of the above? If so, all criticism is warranted.

    If not…

    Most of Yoga is made up stuff to get us through the crap of life and its denouement.

    Add to that the American phys. ed. Yoga-ass appeal, and you’ve got a popular movement. Still, it’s my spiritual path-has been all my life.

    Nothing surprises me about Yoga.

    John Friend created his brand of Yoga-the Apple of Yoga to existing dull Microsoft Yoga.

    He gave it a brandname-Anusara. Neat.

    Presumably (I don’t really know) he tweaked existing Yoga systems with his own made-up stuff cloaked in a tapestry of “Tantra” and “love talk” and body shaping and good habits like breathing right, good posture, eating right, etc.

    With a salesman’s ego, he started his biz. His customer base began as (I’m guessing) young women.

    Fast forward a few decades and John hit not one but TWO lotteries in life: Money and attractive women.

    And along the way, irrespective of any possible personal ethical lapses, his system may have helped many people improve their lives.

    Of course, such social value doesn’t justify in any way or excuse John if he committed any of the 4 infractions listed above.

    If not, he’s just an ordinary, horny older guy with a penchant for fine looking females and living the good life.

    Nothing millions of other guys wouldn’t do or lust after themselves in a heartbeat.

    So, I reiterate my question to the (mainly) senior female teachers who’ve parted ways from his biz: What were you expecting?

    Almost by default, whenever you see a guy who leads a group of women, and especially a guy who has women cavorting about him in spandex, realize one thing: At heart, he is a PLAYER! Always will be, despite whatever spiritual jargon he’s rapping.

    John’s playing the guru-game…nothing more, nothing less, and he’s winning handily.

    I feel for women who for whatever reasons feel betrayed by John.

    The John Friend business story is an object lesson for us all, especially women:

    No guy is an angel, saint, or guru! To expect so is delusion.

    When a guy stands before you, claiming hidden knowledge, collecting followers, franchising his spiritual system, he’s a player or worse.

    Players play YOU-for your time, money, or body.

    To those disaffected Anusara women, when you play a player’s game, the #1 Rule of Life applies:

    “You get what you pay for.”

    • (R)Evoluzione says:

      This is THE best comment on the issue I've seen anywhere, by any journalist, yogi, Anusara person, or otherwise.

  18. guest says:

    true, but still, be careful about blaming the victims.

  19. James says:

    Article well done. I must say however that this whole situation… this whole deal… this scandal reeks of non yoga. It is the antithesis of union. It does nothing more than drive people apart.

    John Friend is a teacher with a very high profile. That means that he is definitely in a place of power that entails more responsibility. That doesn't mean we should all have access to his life and we DEFINITELY do not have ANY IDEA of all the dynamics of what has lead to his actions, or the actions of the other parties who are involved. The people who are judging this man are doing so through their own eyes… eyes whose sight and perception are filled with their own layers of truth blocking lenses of belief and bias… amongst other things.

    The people involved should still have a right to have a life. They are teachers not a elfin television program for everyone to comment on…

    There are comments on here such as 'it feels like a good opportunity to practice, all around.' A very very good point. How bout we all practice a little non harming here and leave this be. There are people involved here not just egos.

  20. Amy says:

    I say the interview was done with respect, grace, and neutrality. This is how any good person and journalist would approach the charged topic. Well done Waylon. I am a fan.
    As far as John Friend. There are so many aspects of Anusara yoga that have inspired my own practice as well as my classes. I will say that the Anusara community has seemed cult like and starry eyed over John from the start. If yoga is about the union then why has John insisted on drawing such heavy lines to separate his approach from the equally other great styles and approaches of yoga? Branding, money making, exploitation of teachers and students for growth, fame, and let's get real MONEY. Creepy! And what is up with the employees, students that have actually fallen for this have sex with me and you will become more spiritually aligned BS. Come on folks…think for yourselves. This is really what Opening to Grace is really about. It baffles me how gullible we are as humans. Scary really.

  21. [...] the recent news of the Anusara community (regarding John Friend), I am moved to write an article that has been stewing inside me for some [...]

  22. [...] 1. The situation is this: many of your senior teachers—Darren Rhodes, Christina Sell, Elena Brower,Amy Ippoliti, Laura Christensen, have resigned from Anusara over the past few months. We talked about that, you [...]

  23. joshua says:

    "when you choose to play follow the leader, you subject yourself to the faults of them, as much as the faults of yourself, your freedom can be discovered not by following the paths of others, but knowing the wisdom in the one your create for yourself"
    -Joshua

  24. Lorelai says:

    Thanks for a great article. While I see the purpose of seeking to hold such a powerful public figure responsible for the misuse of power and position, and I think that's INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to address, I don't see the point in demonizing things like his sexual behavior and consensual relationships, however 'non-traditional.' I'm grateful that this article doesn't take that route, but it took me so long to find the root of the information passed the gossip and judgment when I first heard about this.

    Really, I don't see nearly enough criticism of the Anusara yoga as a Capitalist force, period, and I feel like that fuels so much of the power and position that John Friend has in this yoga culture in the first place. Do I wish that my yoga teachers and anyone who dedicates themselves to a craft and profession be able to make a comfortable living off of what they do? Absolutely! But one of the things that turns me off about Anusara so much is the financial elitism inherent in its structure, which seems so contrary to the roots of a spiritual mystic practice.

    I have been studying Anusara for four+ years, have an 11 year long yoga practice, and am certified in Hatha yoga at the 200 hour level. What drew me to Anusara was the challenge and safety of an anatomical practice, and really, finding a local teacher with whom I could relate. Despite the recent mess, I will remain a student to my teacher and the anatomical practice. But I have seen so much sheep-herding and group mentality take-over in the Anusara community, especially around the issue of finances and money-making. I have seen accomplished, successful teachers engage in side-business legal-loophole pyramid schemes disguised as environmental action/naturopathic healing and host recruiting parties for the local community. I have seen those who are critical cast out and ignored.

    The amount of money and investment it takes to participate in immersions and teacher trainings is also a HUGE turn-off. There is no place for formal study for those of us whose income hang close to the poverty line, who can only afford to attend a class weekly, if lucky, because of a local studio co-op prices and a student discount. Sure they offer 'scholarships' and discounted immersion prices, but those are, too, a luxury. For a community that strives to spread its teachings wide and enhance the spiritual and physical practices of many, it only makes itself accessible for those who can afford it, and it seems to have little awareness of its own position of privilege. This is the biggest hypocrisy of the community and its leadership.

    I'm tired of listening to the problems of the rich. Pension plans? Illegal marijuana delivery? Consensual affairs with students and employees? Give me a break. Take responsibility for how this power and position has been created and exploited in the first place, and get over it Anusara, move the hell on. You're obviously missing the point.

    Thanks again for a great article!

  25. [...] Absicht geschehen, sondern schlicht ein Fehler verwaltungstechnischer Natur. In einem Interview mit http://www.elephantjournal.com vom 8. Februar unterstrich Friend, wie leid ihm die ganze Angelegenheit tut: „Das Wichtigste, was [...]

  26. [...] below wet-ink conversation with Bernadette Birney concerns “the John Friend / Anusara yoga situation.” Bernadette is an Anusara yoga teacher, and announced her resignation just today. Her letter, and (a [...]

  27. Iraqnaed says:

    I am an international journalist and a yoga student of approx 18 years. The questions asked were long, drawn out, and bogus. The answers were ridiculous. This guy used his position, fame, and charisma to get laid. So what else is new? What is all the fuss about? Why all the hiding and drama in the yoga community? Isn't this part of the allure? Is the yoga community so sacrosanct that these things cannot be openly aired?? Stop treating the guy with kid gloves. Either his behavior is acceptable – as a leader in the yoga community – or it isn't.

  28. [...] I think the Anusara Situation with Mr. Friend would qualify as a heated situation. I have read Waylon Lewis’s interview with Mr. Friend as well as the veritable cornucopia of comments that followed. It’s a lot to go through, but if [...]

  29. Though I don't follow this style but I question those who do and all of a sudden…ooop..the guy is questionable..not gonna follow his way…its almost like religion..hmmm…it was interesting till this part came along..so um..not so much any more…

    Everybody wants things for free. So enough with the not taking accountability on being pretentious. Business is business when you have yours, you make a choice and not all the time will be spoiled for you.

    As far as sex with women and the sadness of them having kids…um… WTH shame on these women. Seriously they are married with kids…this isn't an EAT PRAY LOVE moment.

    Did someone cry about Pot…? Seriously? Pot is like smoking a cigars now…get over it. How is that something bad?

    To me, it doesn't matter who we learn yoga from its what we do with it, you have been given more than enough tools to keep going yourself without a teacher. I mean the teacher you keep avoiding is yourself. Christians are saying now…oooh one for the team…smg

  30. Angela says:

    "But as the details are spread across the internet, I see clearly where I can rise up as a man, and walk differently in my relationships with women."….Seriously! JF just now "sees" his faults because of the Internet.?.? Sorry, but that sounds so stupid and weak.

  31. @ckdozi says:

    Ha Ha Ha. Religion yoga, this is why we have it all, because we are human beings, life is messy, you are in control of your life, it's a big stick to carry when you can really get it, life doesn't happen to you. There is great pain in living — find your path, breathe, go slow. Simple – a chair has integrity, take a leg a way it will fall down. Self destruction, suffering, hurt, drugs, sex, love. : ) there is no where to get too, slow down. No one is doing anything to you. You walk your path. Sex Jealousy Rivalry. It's all so hard. Be gentle with your self as if you are an infant. See many women some men in such exasperated pain over sex confused with love. Catatonic.

    The bath water running between your legs will provide you with power. Oh Life.

  32. [...] most Wiccan circles, as you know.”In the wake of the accusations exploding into public view, Friend conducted an interview with Elephant Journal, and in it he admitted to having sexual relationships with students, including married students, [...]

  33. John Joseph John Joseph says:

    First, Way, Kudos to you for taking on this interview. I liked your line of questioning, but I agree with some of the comments that you were a bit soft on him….as if you were giving him a path to absolve himself before he fully admitted his wrongdoing. His response, "I am so deeply sorry for any harm that my actions have caused anyone," doesn't really admit to having caused harm. His responses reveal his experiences as ones that are informing his spiritual growth. He is more concerned with his evolution than the havoc he's caused. I think you could have followed up on his responses and dug deeper into him, rather than being so concerned about the legal limitations of his potential answers.
    I know the pitfalls of worshipping a guru very well from my years with a tantric/kundalini teacher. I was very young (21) and naive and gave her all of my power. I worshipped her as goddess and experienced the most transcendant, blissful states I'd ever experienced having sex with her in my life. However, for many years she psychologically manipulated me – I was addicted to her light, her shakti, and wanted her like a drug. She painted me as the dark soul, the one who needed to resolve his karma through her teachings. After 12 years I finally broke the spell, and found myself.
    I like John Friend, I've met him and took a class from him years ago. Being a famous yoga teacher is no different than being an elite athlete or a politician. When I taught yoga in the 90s, I had mostly female students. I loved teaching but also blurred the boundaries between my spiritual and sexual energy….when I saw some of them begin to worship me or fall in love with me, I quit teaching, afraid I'd fall into the obvious trap. All JF can do now is fully reveal the truth, and hopefully show true remorse – I did not sense that in his answers in the interview.

  34. Jeff says:

    It may be the case that there is someone who consistently manifests the Guru-principle for you, and if that is so, there is the temptation to regard that person as “my teacher,” a static role. As soon as this happens, you are listening less to the inner knower. Even if someone has manifested the Guru-principle for you a hundred thousand times, in the next moment they may not. They may be just as confused as you are. Even if someone has never manifested the Guru-principle for you, in the next moment they may do so. They may be just as wise as you are. The governing principle, again, is your inner sense of what’s true

    Lack of awareness of this truth 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. If you do see things in terms of a “fall,” you may close down to the possibility of receiving the Guru-principle from one who you have now decided is wrong, or bad, or fake, or “out of alignment.” Just as there is no such thing as someone who is always manifesting the Guru-principle, there is no such thing as someone who is generally out of alignment.

    My question is: Who in this Reality is without wrongdoings and so believes him/herselves to be able to Pass Judgement

    "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brothers eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is the log in your own eye?

    So the point of Jesus words about judging are to show us how the anger of judgmentalism can be broken. It is broken by a broken heart.
    This awareness turns angry judgment into patient and loving forbearance and delicate correction. Legitimate anger may remain because we are displeased that eye-specks bedevil people we love. But that anger is not the anger of judgmentalism. Good anger is governed by the experience of mercy.

    Namaste

  35. chan says:

    I feel sad just because I liked John Friend. He was arrogant and kinda gross/flirtatious but he also brought humor and warmth.

  36. CDano says:

    I see nothing wrong in standing up and saying hey i think this is wrong.

    I'm angry not just because of this set of infractions, but because its indicative of the hypocritical mess that yoga has become.

    People preach peace and love using double speak while the trample each other over in real life. John has just done what i've seem happening everywhere for years, in spades.

    It's time for an outcry.

  37. sandy c says:

    John, you will always have friends at home who welcome you back, just watch your back. sandybeach

  38. [...] those new to this situation, we’re talking about this past week’s allegations concerning John Friend and Anusara [...]

  39. [...] below] letter and further context into what’s been going on and where we’re going [re: John Friend and Anusara [...]

  40. [...] hasn’t been easy for me to see the Anusara community changing so rapidly. It was really hard for me to see Noah Maze and many other beautiful teachers [...]

  41. vijay says:

    A guru is someone who has defeated the six internal enemies of kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya. http://veda.wikidot.com/arishadvarga. It looks like John Friend couldn't.

  42. [...] nettet. Denne siden ble raskt lagt ned, men skaden var gjort, og John Friend ga et intervju med The Elephant Journal der han gjorde rede for sannhetsgehalten i de ulike anklagene. Anklagene gikk i all hovedsak ut [...]

  43. [...] entire controversy, with links to all of her coverage from Day 1 to the present.—On Feb. 8, 2012, John Friend responds to the accusations against him in an interview with Elephant Journal editor Waylon Jennings.—Blisstree posts an [...]

  44. Bry says:

    These things DO happen all the time in spiritual communities, and it is a sad reminder that people are people no matter what line or work or group they pretend to ascribe to. There are good and bad doctors, teachers, lawyers, astrologers, etc… However, I find this type of behavior in the spiritual guise especially upsetting as there are genuine spiritual gurus out there and people like John Friend give a bad rap to what is perhaps one of the most important relationships a soul can have.
    While there is a lot of anti-guru or "inner" guru talk in the West, the fact of the matter is it is EXTREMELY difficult to dissolve your ego without someone to keep you in check from all the pitfalls. Sure it is possible in souls like Ramana Maharishi, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we will reach enlightenment by sitting on our mat and listening to our constant chatter. The amount of karma and our capacity for deception is enormous. John Friend is a good example of a need for such a true spiritual guide, as well as taking caution in who we choose to be ours. I highly recommend " Holy Madness" by Georg Fuerstein for an account of crazy wisdom gurus as well as the importance of a Sat Guru and how to gauge a real teacher from a mundane one.

  45. maurice says:

    I was always disturbed by the cult like quality of this organization. Many of the teachers I have come to know, I admire greatly, and feel for them for being betrayed. During the JF events I attended, I experienced my fair share of glassy eyed blind followers who fed his ego. I found it disgusting as I felt John was allowing himself to be put on a pedestal. I admire teachers and leaders who are more down to earth and come across as normal human beings. Maybe John started out that way but he certainly didn't end that way.

    My advice is to abandon the messenger not the message. This movement is not about a person. John needs to abandon the sense of ownership over his teachers and allow them to teach more independently. Anusara can recover from this but only if it assumes a faceless leader. Anusara INC needs to be dissolved.

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