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

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

  1. Steven N. says:

    Elephant Journal is a magazine that is bound and defined by the principles of journalism in the same manner as Newsweek, or Time magazine.
    Namely: objectivity (or at the least, a dispassionate approach toward identified attachments) .
    Elephant Journal is not a psychiatric-psychological review of case studies.
    The principle of objectivity as applied in a magazine interview and the quest to uncover the nature of psychological-psychiatric disorders (as would be explored in a case studies review) are non-compatible.
    Asking an individual (like John Friend) who suffers with unresolved narcissistic wounds to understand these wounds and their effect upon others, and to explicate the details of this understanding in a magazine may be bordering on the grandiose.
    Like others who have expressed similar sentiments, I, too, feel disappointed by the interview, and the lack of clarity of purpose for the interview.
    After working as a social worker and mental health counselor for many years I made the decision to leave the "industry" after a last "dance" at a treatment center where the concept of "parallel process" served as an excuse for the health care providers to behave similarly to those seeking help.
    My question for Elephant Journal reflects the concept of parallel process: who is Elephant Journal attempting to serve in this interview?
    The cynic in me observes Elephant Journal's Waylon Lewis struggling to serve himself; to save face from the non-objective relationship Mr. Waylon developed with Mr. Friend. A relationship that speaks to a bond around parallel process, around an age old problem of loss, the ubiquitous experience of pain around loss and the conditions through which the experience of loss can so easily manifest (e.g., mistaking prakriti for purusa).
    That so many continue to be so enamored by charismatic personalities (after so many have been unveiled) remains disquieting.

    • maurice says:

      Steven you do pose a valid question. Waylon has a history of interviewing John on more mundane topics-relatively speaking. This was not a time to be sensitive to John's feelings but to be responsible to serving the needs of the yoga community.

      • elephantjournal says:

        For the 80th time, this interview got John to admit far more than he has previously (or since) in a public forum–despite the fact that I wasn't given the opportunity to conduct a true, live, give-and-take interview. Way to take pot shots.

    • elephantjournal says:

      I do like him. I don't hide it. Many who have left him and are angry with him liked him. He's a likeable guy. But my definition of friendship, perhaps unlike yours, does not preclude honesty. I have no need or desire to save face, beyond calling him out (as I did, first question) on his lack of transparency in our last interview.

  2. Dan G says:

    For the people who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, countless hours of devotion, made their life’s-circles surounded by kula-people…. this is destroying their world.

    John Friend is personally responsible for flagrantly flushing the whole system down the toilet. He is the sole proprietorship of a corporation that has no accountability. No share holders, no one to keep his power in check (congress senate president).

    It is not surprising that he used his Merry Minstrel Mogul Mischief for his own personal Pan Bachanal. Pagans are a lusty raucus bunch. Not surprising that he weaved a spell of mystery (shri!) around him and garnered power, money and fame.

    I think everyone is shocked that the truth was so thoroughly revealed to render him powerless to the internet, which he used to create his empire. Live by the sword, die by the sword. You can’t have it both ways. When you write your own ethics, and hold other people accountable to them, you had better be behaving by them or you will be accountable to a much greater source (in this case, the world at large).

    Anyone that represents Anusara is representing corrupt politics. Becaused of the two faced propaganda of the founder, Anusara is no longer a philosophy, instead it is a marketing tool designed to hook you in and make you feel part of a club. How can any student trust their teacher who labels themselves with a Scarlett A?

    I feel bad for all of the teachers who are staying because they are loyal to the system. If the teachings are so powerful, they will survive a great fall and be communicated in a way that is understood by the teachers and students; not creating a catchy-all method that is designed to create followers who brand themselves as special because “it works”.

    They are not being loyal to anyone but John Friend. Was he loyal to you when he made you sign your license that limits your yoga and your teachings? Who did that serve? It created a house of cards that he personally has toppled with seemingly little or no remorse or accountability (as evidenced by him teaching his Tantra of relationships in Miami after his committee advised him not to, he still has to take the stage and see who his true followers really are).

    There is no doubt that there are awesome teachers in the aforementioned and soon to be a dirty word method. My wish is for each one of them to look inside themselves and be Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz who has been listening to the tricks and illusions from the Man Behind the Curtain who turns out to not have any of the answers.

    The great teachers are still great teachers as evidenced by their integrity and willingness to walk away from a train wreck created by Chief Engineer John Friend. He did this to himself. This is not blame, this is fact.

    Dorothy looks inside of herself and found out it was she who had the power. Please teachers, students, and followers of JF, tear down the wall, look behind the curtain, check your 3rd eye and realize that you already have it all, and you don’t need him or anyone else to label you fit enough to teach what you already know based upon your own exploration and passion for the beauty and wonderment of Yoga.

  3. [...] the report yesterday of John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, stepping down due to accusations of alleged sexual misconduct with students and financial [questions], I am reminded of our politicians under which the lamp of scrutiny their lives are [...]

  4. [...] Mi piacerebbe approfondire l’argomento ma… mi manca davvero il tempo. Se volete dare un’occhiata, qui c’è un’intervista (a mio parere un po’ morbida) di Waylon Lewis con Friend ( http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/m&#8230 ;) [...]

  5. daila says:

    People need to seperate the teaching from the teacher. dont worship the teacher. They are human like everyone and have fallacies. Nothing wrong with John Friend. Sexual issues are rampant in the west. This is something that John has to deal with. Anusara yoga is still a great yoga.

  6. michael says:

    BREATHE! I’m delighted to announce that I too am flawed like John Friend & thank God for that!
    My students like me because I’m honest, flaws & all! I say have as much sex as you can with as many students as you can while your still young & flexible!…I’m kidding but seriously people no ethics have been broken only our perception of what they should be! Now…back on the mat!

  7. mikeyoga says:

    I think John rocks! He is honest about his humanity & I don't think he has done anything wrong at all. We are ALL human & INTENTION is everything. I say have as much sex as you want…We are all human. Consentual if perfectly fine as no power is taken.
    INTENTION is everything, even if we don't like the form through action it takes. Come move DownUnder John! We love real people down here xMike

  8. Johnny says:

    So what. people sleep around all the time…all over the world, all throughout time. big deal. IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO!
    Theres no victims here either. Its not like he went a flat out raped someone.
    folks pull the sex/ blame card all the time. And it looks like the pension thing has a legitimate explanation as well.
    And…smoking some herb…whatever. Almost everbody has tried it…and its illegal because of big corporate interests.

    kinda sad what has happened.

  9. Erinn says:

    i saw this coming a long time ago. His ego is massive and I can't believe so many people followed like sheeple. If you want a real guru look to Sivananda. HE actually practiced real yoga (not to mention ahimsa AND brahmacharya) not just overblown asana.

  10. Tori says:

    Actually I like JF more now than before nothing like a bit of fallibility to endear me to a person.

  11. Jer Bear says:

    "Sorry you feel that way
    The only thing these is to say
    Every silver lining's got a
    Touch of grey" (R.Hunter)

  12. Steven N. says:

    In Response to the John Friend interview:
    Elephant Journal is a magazine that is bound and defined by the principles of journalism in the same manner as Newsweek, or Time magazine.
    Namely: objectivity (or at the least, a dispassionate approach toward identified attachments).
    Elephant Journal is not a psychiatric-psychological review of case studies.
    The principle of objectivity as applied in a magazine interview and the quest to uncover the nature of psychological-psychiatric disorders (as would be explored in a case studies review) are non-compatible.
    Asking an individual (like John Friend) who suffers with unresolved narcissistic wounds to understand these wounds and their effect upon others, and to explicate the details of this understanding in a magazine may be bordering on the grandiose.
    Like others who have expressed similar sentiments, I, too, feel disappointed by the interview, and the lack of clarity of purpose for the interview.
    After working as a social worker and mental health counselor for many years I made the decision to leave the "industry" after a last "dance" at a treatment center where the concept of "parallel process" served as an excuse for the health care providers to behave similarly to those seeking help.
    My question for Elephant Journal reflects the concept of parallel process: whom is Elephant Journal attempting to serve in this interview?
    The cynic in me observes Elephant Journal's Waylon Lewis struggling to serve himself; to save face from the non-objective relationship Mr. Waylon developed with Mr. Friend. A relationship that speaks to a bond around parallel process, around an age old problem of loss, the ubiquitous experience of pain around loss and the conditions through which the experience of loss can so easily manifest (e.g., mistaking prakriti for purusa).
    That so many continue to be so enamored by charismatic personalities (after so many have been unveiled) remains disquieting.

  13. Nicole Dunas says:

    I admire you, Waylon, for your integrity here. Many blessings!

  14. [...] Elephant Journal has an “interview” (i.e., submitted questions and received written responses) with John Friend regarding the JFExposed allegations. There are no real denials. He admits having sex with Anusara women, married women. More on that later. [...]

  15. [...] Even better, this article quotes neither Dork nor Elephant nor my Walk the Talk Show interviews with John Friend or three of his colleagues, but a single recent article by Elena Brower in the Huff Post, and reads [...]

  16. [...] In an interview about the accusations he gave to journalist Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal magazine Friend admits to having “made mistakes in my personal life” while insisting he intended no one any harm. (Source) [...]

  17. earth bunny says:

    A heartfelt piece on what we can take away personally from John Friends Failures…
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/?p=292521

    heart… earth bunny brian sun

  18. Steve Gunther says:

    People in glass houses….
    We are all flawed…
    So who throws the first stone?
    Lets each look into our souls and be interested in our own denial and shame.
    And yes, public figures are publicly responsible for their actions. So hence the public accountability. Good attempt at an interview. He was just plain evasive. And I understand also – he is totally shamed. For him to be really honest would be difficult in a situation where everyone just now wants to dump shit on him.
    Yes, he clearly screwed up, and clearly hurt people, and clearly has affected many people negatively.
    So, lets get to the really interesting discussion of the inner dynamics of how this can and does happen. How we are all involved in creating blind places in organisations, and in ourselves. Lets acknowledge that these were actions that created major damage, and take the focus off roasting him, and onto an interesting learning discussion for all of us who aspire to spiritual values…

  19. [...] American yoga is abuzz with the inevitable sex scandal. John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, has admitted to numerous affairs with female students, some of whom were married. Because Friend is probably the [...]

  20. martin says:

    We are all products of our environments, so creating the community creates the behaviour you have witnessed here. The idea that someone can be enlightened is part of the problem. There is no ego or guru, there is only egoic thinking and behaviour. The greatest trick the ego has ever pulled is convincing us that it is real. Sheldon Kopp wrote a book called~ ' If You See Buddah on the Road..Kill Him'. What he meant by this is, that there are no Gurus, just people who are further down the road in knowledge than perhaps you are. To think that the leader of a group, with so much influence is not going to be enticed by egoic thinking, is delusional. There is an arguement for implementing 'STOPS' in all groups or communities. STOPs = Strategies for Overcoming Power.

    When you create something, you get past c1 thinking to C2 thinking in the Universal product cycle of Everything. At the C2 level, you want to consildate what you have, it is then that egoic thinking comes into effect again as it is only scared of losing sex, salary, status and security; it is never satisfied for long and needs a bigger hit the more time goes on. I imagine that's what happened here.. Raising awareness of this behaviour and shunning the idea of Gurus being non human or something else, should be encouraged… Maybe?. His behaviour was perfectly natural, flawed as all humans are or not as passing judgement seems counterintuitve to the whole enlightened position I would have thought that to not have expected it seems kind of naive and pointing fingers is merely projection. Why are we to assume that certain people are better than others? Enlightined thinking is fleeting at the best of times… If we are all a product of our environment, then perhaps the systems in place and the philosophy as whole needs overhauling, to protect Gurus from themselves…possibly?

    (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/the-universal-product-cycle-of-everything/)

  21. martin says:

    We are all products of our environments, so creating the community creates the behaviour you have witnessed here. The idea that someone can be enlightened is part of the problem. There is no ego or guru, there is only egoic thinking and behaviour. The greatest trick the ego has ever pulled is convincing us that it is real. Sheldon Kopp wrote a book called~ ' If You See Buddah on the Road..Kill Him'. What he meant by this is, that there are no Gurus, just people who are further down the road in knowledge than perhaps you are. To think that the leader of a group, with so much influence is not going to be enticed by egoic thinking, is delusional. There is an arguement for implementing 'STOPS' in all groups or communities. STOPs = Strategies for Overcoming Power.

  22. [...] by the pain of being turned inside out. Let me be clear, birth was more painful than our present situation, but there are some [...]

  23. [...] our livelihoods. Also, Betsey was in the unique position of being the only person that saw the jfexposed website [since taken down ~ ed.] of February 3 and participated in the mediated phone meeting of [...]

  24. [...] published the first and only interview with John Friend, where questions regarding his affairs (which he admitted to publicly for the first time) and the [...]

  25. Jake says:

    The tone of many comments here seems to be that JF shouldn't be given a forum to present his side of the story. I want to hear what he has to say. Personally, I'm not interested in my teachers' personal lives, just whether or not they are good yoga teachers. One of my yoga teachers dated his student, then he married her, and now they have a beautiful child. It's normal for people who spend time together to develop feelings for one another.

  26. michael says:

    Recently I learned something that completely liberated me from all this sort of drama.
    As a Male Yoga Teacher this all really used to exhaust me. ALL humans are a paradox. There is a side to me that is deeply spiritual, caring & centred, the other side of me is impatient, reckless & insecure. I oscillate between both every moment of the day. Any person, Yoga teacher or otherwise, who wants to engage in human pleasures that are consented to are perfectly free to do so. Consent is not exploitative. Engaging in anything that doesn't harm does not negate your spiritual side nor your intentions to grow & learn in any way…period!
    People who judge anothers behaviour really have to embrace & accept their own.

  27. Jake says:

    Obviously a lot of interest here in what this man has to say. Please interview John again after he has had some time to reflect on his actions.

  28. [...] the first real interview (my “interview,” until now the only one, in which John first admitted to affairs and dire…) with John Friend—one of the world’s leading yoga teachers and movers & shakers who was [...]

  29. mick says:

    It sounds like he did a Bernie Madoff of hijacking the poodie. Just saying….

  30. [...] In an interview he gave to journalist Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal magazine Friend admits to having “made mistakes in my personal life” while insisting he intended no one any harm. (Source) [...]

  31. [...] By now, you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding the founder and leader of the Anusara yoga community. I won’t inventory the allegations, but you can read them here. [...]

  32. [...] face all over yoga forums and blogs (if you haven’t heard about the recent gossip, see here). The leader and creator of Anusara…his face thrown up for everyone to see, like a shirt hung [...]

  33. [...] My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations … Feb 8, 2012 … 5 Questions for Anusara Yoga's John Friend regarding jfexposed … since that jfexposed exposé web site and then Yo… [...]

  34. [...] that he did have sexual relations with one of his students who was married with children from his Elephant Journal interview, as well as the pension documents supporting the accusation of ilegally freezing employee’s [...]

  35. [...] Anusara? John Friend is now a Hatha yoga teacher. Click here for some context, update, on the whole silly sad messy trials and tribulations. [...]

  36. [...] at the appropriate time. That time will come when all the information is on the table, when we know the true extent of his behavior and when he has taken responsibility for his actions by submitting to an ethics evaluation and [...]

  37. [...] American yoga is abuzz with the inevitable sex scandal. John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, has admitted to numerous affairs with female students, some of whom were married. Because Friend is probably the [...]

  38. It’s very easy to find out any topic on web

    as compared to textbooks, as I found this article at this site.

  39. elephantjournal says:

    Anonymous ommmmmm, great points. I've copied your message if you'd like to reedit with criticism intact but a bit more constructively. Yes, this is a moderated comment section–especially for those who choose to hide behind anonymity. ~ Waylon

  40. ommmmm says:

    truly sorry if my response was offensive. as a practitioner and teacher of yoga- i sincerely believe in love and forgiveness but i lose my patience when the flowery "beautiful opportunities to improve my path" ( to paraphrase) are used to excuse blatantly negative behavior.

    you're free to repost with any edits you deem necessary…i'm assuming it was the last 2 sentences. thx!

  41. elephantjournal says:

    I agree on flowery BS! Doesn't help. Okay, I'll repost:

    15 minutes later. I can't for the life of me find the email I copied your message into just now. If you can restate, I'm truly sorry. Just skip your own version of flowery language!

    With apologies!

    Waylon

  42. I agree Candice. Not an Anusara person, so I don't feel as personally wronged by all of it. I'm happy to see the way Waylon handled it though….he made an important but difficult call here.

  43. Anusara Yogi says:

    The issue is not that he was sleeping with lots of women (though I do have an issue with sleeping with an employee). The issue is that he appears to have been manipulating lots of women. In one of his own supposed letters he admits to having lied to several different women. I believe he abused his position of power to manipulate people. That is the issue here. And even more so that one of the people in question was an employee. Any other company would fire a CEO for this behavior.

  44. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    i think the rock star groupie thing is a good analogy – but then add on top of this that the rock star has also assumed the mantle of both spiritual authority and being in control of your livelihood, while being the central figure in an organization that stirs up adoration and powerful beautiful altered states and believes the system he teachers is a doorway into a kind of enlightened tantric heart and mind opening into the ultimate nature of bliss….

    consider all of that and then what it really means for this man to initiate and consummate sexual moves on his married groupie, then keep it secret and to be doing it with multiple women at once in the name of sex magick that will produce abundance etc….

    let's just really think this through and not be so detached and egalitarian.

    if he were a school teacher or therapist it would be criminal behavior. as the employer of these women it is ethically and certainly legally problematic.

    as their spiritual mentor and head teacher, let's just think this through: the person they look to for ethical/moral guidelines and authoritative pronouncements about god the universe and how yoga can change people's lives is engaging them in secret sexual liasons that betray their own families and spouses or boyfriends, as well as his own significant other…. hmmmm let's not cover over how dark this is in the name of being modern.

    it's pretty bad.

  45. Anusara Yogi says:

    Braja, considering that you say you had never heard of John before this week, were you able to read all of the materials on jfexposed.com before it was pulled down? From your replies it sounds like you were not privy to all of the accusations and "information" on there.

  46. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    with all due respect braja, i highly recommend doing some reading on the psychology of cults and power imbalances. your statements here are incredibly one sided and lacking in the nuance this might offer…

  47. __MikeG__ says:

    I'm with you on this, Braja.

  48. dagib says:

    I agree fully with Braja, having had a full on cult experience

  49. Anusara Yogi says:

    I absolutely understand where you are coming from on all points. My only point is that I think it's difficult to make an informed opinion on this entire situation without having seen the whole breadth of the "information," which is no longer available. There was a lot of very specific information in there (particularly letters supposedly written by John) that I think might make one (or perhaps you) feel very differently.

  50. dagib says:

    Great points

  51. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    Thanks for voicing out my thoughts with your Aussie BS detector & usual wit, Braja. Deep bow to Waylon & elephant for the way this was handled. This is as mindful as it gets for journalism & indie media.

  52. Agni Hotra says:

    A million hits? Really? All press is good for business. If Anusara and John Friend wasn't "on the map" before, he certainly is now. He should be jumping up and down with joy. I'm sure he'll feel his bottom line rise. Sure there will be people leaving his organization, but I'd bet he experiences an uplift in members — especially men "intrigued" by all this "tantra" stuff and the plethora of young girls willing to sleep with middle-age guys with money. I've always wondered what it would take to interest more men in yoga. John Friend may have just hit on the right marketing message. Bravo.

  53. Disappointed. says:

    You are absolutely correct that this is way more revealing than the letter to the community. And how f-ed up is that?

  54. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    omg you said "bullshit" lol ;)

  55. Well said. I can't really account for their taste though…

    :))

  56. Well said: it takes someone who wants to worship to put another on a pedestal. I could stand on a pedestal til the cows come home, and it ain't havin' no effect :) If someone comes along and starts fanning my ego? Then it starts. I think you hit a very fine line with a spotlight, and I thank you for doing so…

  57. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks, Frank, for nothing. I asked the questions I wanted answered. Whether I got fullsome answers or no, was out of my control. I tried to frame them in as constructive and direct a way as possible, in order to get real answers.

  58. Same here, to all this. No agenda. Just watching. There's wrong on both sides. That's the way it ROOOOLLLLLS, this world…

  59. Just ignore me, yogi julian. Please. No matter what i say, you're going to be troubled by it. You should have asked first if I have a Masters in Psychology and did my thesis on Cults and Power Imbalances….

  60. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    actually no – you say things i agree with at times.

    re-read my comment and you will see it doesn't suggest you need to be a MA in psychology – just respectfully asks if you would be willing to do some reading on this specific subject as i don't think you have considered it from the psychological angle.

  61. karlsaliter says:

    I agree on the questions, especially in this legal context.
    I mean, Waylon did WTF him.

  62. I enjoyed that quite a bit!

  63. "i don't think you have considered it from a psychological angle."

    Then you know very, very little…

    Again, I'm not going to discuss this, or anything, with you, "with all due respect."

  64. elephantjournal says:

    hahahah deal. Anyone who can invoke a little humor right now gets whatever they want.

  65. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for your gentleness, and perhaps condescension. I may not be the best for the role, and I certainly didn't volunteer and am not benefiting in any way. If readership numbers were my primary motivator here, I could have broken the story on Friday morning when 800 friends skyped me the jfexposed site in 20 minutes. And while I may not be the best for the role, I stepped forward, with my name non-anonymous, and have submitted to the chopping block of readers' comments and downarrows in the interests of bringing the community together, providing however much more context I'm able, so that we might begin to heal and move forward. I feel as if I lot of folks are taking anger and downarrows out on me, because I'm replying, and John and his colleagues and friends are not, understandably.

    Furthermore, I'm not that nice. I don't admire John or anyone, including my Buddhist teachers, more than I care about the truth. The best way to get open answers, a la Charlie Rose, can be openness. Openness doesn't mean gullibility. It does require tact.

  66. Ted says:

    Ok to make one thing clear because a lot of people seem confused. A yoga teacher can have sexual intercourse with a student if they are consenting adults and if the student is there to learn yoga. The archetype of the hero or the teacher often attracts the feminine. You can see it playing out in many relationships and not just in student teacher relationships.
    So it’s ok if the contract is clear: I want to be intimate with you.
    Now it is not ok when the ‘consenting’ vulnerable adult is approaching the teacher asking for healing or the teacher offers healing but instead manipulates the situation to get what he wants.

    Intent, relationship ‘contract’ and the specific needs and vulnerabilities have to be taken into consideration. Although a lot of people do yoga not all of them are in vulnerable position. The matter of boundaries is quite delicate and I could say more but it s definetly a case by case decision that requires maturity and discrimination from student and even more from teacher.
    In yoga the oral contract between student and teacher is not the same as a psychotherapist with client or school student and teacher although they might be some similarities the differences are quite important.

  67. Andrew Gurvey agurvey says:

    Well said, Karl.

  68. Vision_Quest2 says:

    ???

    Chacun a son goùt :–)

  69. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I see it, Sinead, as a watershed moment for all of commercialized yoga.

    Doesn't affect my home yoga practice one bit, however … (not based on Anusara … but in its DNA was some deceased charismatic character who slept with his students, too. Do I like that? No. But teachings are teachings).

    If I ever were in better straits time-and-money-wise, I probably would have gone with I.S.H.T.A., which is right here where i live, which also has a strong contemporary founder and leader … which is what makes certain practices more vulnerable to these types of things … I would go for the teachings, if I found they added value to my life—and not because the teacher was above reproach. (Except, I do think Alan Finger at this point, is …)

  70. Michael says:

    For teachers: shunning from the rest of the kula
    For staff: losing their job

  71. Jason says:

    Strongly agree. Well put. Worse, now Friend can claim that he's been open with the yoga press by answering "tough questions." On the other hand, this is what Friend does. He sniffs out someone's weakness–in this case, perhaps an surfeit of good will and good faith–and uses it against them to get what he wants.

  72. karlsaliter says:

    How softball is "WTF why did you lie to me?" as a question?

  73. maurice says:

    Waylon: Kudos for getting the last interview of John Friend before going into hiding!

    Having said that, I have to agree with Ozz. Considering John is a master at controlling his message and given the confused state of the community he represents, he deserved to have been put on the defensive. He was praying for a "softball interview" and you gave him one. Next time ask him more than 5 questions and be ready to follow up on any vague or evasive answers.

    I hope you get the chance to do so.

  74. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Never better put.

  75. Erin says:

    just to clarify, this is not the same Erin as above! i should be Erin2 i guess.

  76. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks!

  77. karlsaliter says:

    Word. (If that's the word I'm looking for.)

  78. Maggie says:

    There is your answer above T.A.H.

    And the negative psychological consequences of those students and employees who got involved who may need to deal with feelings of shame, guilt, anger, sadness or betrayal or feelings of inflation as a result of being the chosen one (for sexual relations or being given greater power/influence within the organization for looking the other way).

    Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg……If any one else has direct experiences or witnessed an ethical violation in the organization, air your grievance here in this public forum because in an ethic panel with his (John's) peers, there is a high probability of complacency.

  79. Kris says:

    People's lives have been touched by YOGA. Anusara is just a brand name. You can find these teachings everywhere

  80. Absolutely! My life has been made richer by yoga! I do know friends who love Anusara, and my hope for them is that the can continue to enjoy their path even after all this. Does that make sense? My comment was just generally supportive of those who love Anusara and have felt hurt by all of this.

  81. elephantjournal says:

    Hear, hear.

  82. I completely agree that these are the questions that need to be asked…. and answered, honestly. No more sweeping this thing under the rug.

  83. elephantjournal says:

    Yah, I sure can feel the love. Thanks for belittling my attempt to get some tough questions and genuine answers. As I've said, it's a lose-lose–it's not about the questions, or the answers in this case…it was about getting anything given the level of confusion and fear on all sides.

  84. Doug says:

    Not to be a weenie, but Hilary was rather surprised to hear that it had been taken down. But apparently the editing issue had to do with the choice of the lead graphic, so no harm no foul? You folks sure have a sense of timing! Already the pot is getting stirred on this issue.

  85. yup says:

    so they toured an empty building?

  86. SdSb says:

    What friggin plot? She says in essence "He said that the center was supposed to open last year but he guessed they were behind schedule." — so what? What's the conspiracy you think is happening? Elephant Yoga want to keep the dark secret that Friend was supposed to open up a place and it never got opened? In this economy a business not opening is a conspiracy? What the heck — it's what, the Roswell of yoga now?

    Give the conspiracy theories a rest will you.

  87. jbnorton says:

    It's not open yet. There's no plot.

  88. This is not about what John does in the privacy of his personal life. I really don't think anyone cares what John does in the privacy of his own home. It is about the fact that he was engaging in unethical sexual relations with his students AND his employees, and he was lying to people about it; and in doing so he was violating HIS own code of ethics. He has asked his thousands of teachers to hold themselves to the high standards of the Anusara code of ethics. But he himself is above those standards? That is hypocrisy, plain and simple. And it is an abuse of power. I am grateful to John for his practice and it has changed my life. And I will still continue to practice with the wonderful teachers who teach this practice. But he as a leader has betrayed the trust of his fellow teachers and his students. He has severely damaged the integrity of the organization, and I think the damage that he has caused is irreparable. I think it's time for a shift in leadership.

  89. It was taken down due to timing. All of the elephant writers were asked to hold off on commentary on the situation at first. No big conspiracies! Since then, Hilary, Waylon & I have been back & forth on email trying to determine which version of her post she wants posted since she has deleted versions, and various edits. More of a style/editing issue at this point than anything to do with the topic!

  90. elephantjournal says:

    It's up on the site, now, along with many other articles, both positive, negative and personal. They have one thing in common: they're all thoughtful and add something to the conversation.

  91. The comment policies are fairly clear: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/be-nice-or

    If someone had comments deleted, it was because they were either disrespectful or vitriolic. There's plenty of room to have respectful debate with out being verbally violent.

  92. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    all valid points ted. i wonder though about how a student or mentee is "approaching" a teacher of this stature with this much power and charisma, in the context of an adoring and large community in which he is a kind of religious/spiritual leader and seen as an authority on ethics, philosophy and the transformational power of yoga – ya know?

  93. Kristina says:

    JF actually states in his own Teacher Training manual that sexual relationships with students are inappropriate and are essentially an abuse of power. I think that is more the crux of the issue.

  94. jimmy says:

    "In yoga the oral contract between student and teacher is not the same as a psychotherapist with client or school student and teacher although they might be some similarities the differences are quite important."

    The problem is that most people getting into Anusara didn't know there was going to have to be an oral contract.

  95. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    i hear you kate – i am not talking about destroying anything. although of course friend has unfortunately destroyed a lot with his actions.

    when i say we cannot separate the teachings and the man/behavior i mean more that it is evidence of something missing in the teachings/belief system/worldview of the man and his community when this sort of situation goes down.

    i am saying with a better set of teachings in place this kind of really common confusion and acting out could be prevented or nipped in the bud more effectively.

    i was also specifically referring to the ungrounded light and love, [earthquakes are not bad, when someone has part of a building fall on their foot it causes pain but they can choose not to suffer] crap that i critiqued in my first ever EJ article "spiritual responses to the tsunami"

  96. Nearly everyone in Boulder seems to be in need of such medicine somehow.

  97. I agree Julian, and I always appreciate your thoughtful perspective on things–even on the rare occasion that I disagree. It's a hard time for everyone touched by this.

  98. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    i too think glossing over this in the name of liberal non-judgment is a mistake.

  99. From the Anusara Ethical Guidelines
    http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_conte

    "As yoga teachers, we are an example and a model for many people. Our behavior reflects upon the great tradition and lineage of yoga which we represent. Consequently, we must exhibit a very high degree of personal integrity in all matters, both inside and outside the classroom. A high standard of professional competence and integrity can be maintained through regular practice and study, and a virtuous and healthy lifestyle. A high degree of personal integrity is prerequisite in order to be well respected as a professional yoga teacher.

    Many students look to the yoga teacher as a guide and mentor, not only for physical development, but for emotional and spiritual development as well. Students tend to project high ideals onto the teacher, so they often think the teacher is more spiritually advanced than they are. Consequently, the student will tend to trust and open up to the teacher in a more psychically vulnerable and more emotionally receptive way than in most relationships. This creates an inherent power differential between the teacher and the student. Because of this power differential, we must be vigilant to uphold the integrity of the seat of the teacher. We must never exploit the vulnerability of the student for our own personal gain or gratification. Clear boundaries must be established and maintained in our role of serving our students."

  100. elephantjournal says:

    Given the developments of today, perhaps it's not irreparable. As someone pointed out, Kripalu came back. But it will certainly be a long journey, and it's hard to imagine the damage healing without some real self-examination as a community. Right now I'm mostly seeing an attackfest.

  101. athanatos says:

    i know the people on the ethics committee, and i can tell you there is no complacency there. they will deal with it appropriately. i just wish they would do it soon.

  102. I agree Chris. I know emotions run deep here, but it's still possible to be respectful while being critical.

  103. Hi Chris,

    I personally have found most of the comments critical and respectful.

    i totally disagree with this: "I frankly wonder how any teacher, at any level, would look if someone took all of our worst character flaws and presented them to the world in the worst light possible."

    Number one- there are few among us who are leading yoga communities of 600,000 plus people. Number 2- I am a yoga teacher. I am not perfect. But my actions are coherent with my personal philosophy- and I know I am not the exception. I do not hold contradictory religious views while espousing what I present to be as a rock solid world view.

    Satya and ahimsa– together. There is compassion in radical truth.

  104. Doug says:

    Chris: was his behavior — the behavior he has so far admitted to — acceptable? And if not, is the community of yoga practitioners (which includes many many people who have managed to resist sleeping with one student and employee after another despite preaching against just that) justified in telling him that it is not acceptable?

    There are of course other similar issues of behavior involved as well, and we can ask if those actions are acceptable too.

    Yes, many comments get overly insulting. But these are two simple questions at the heart of this discussion.

  105. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    have a good night braja – there is no need for us to go back and forth if it is annoying to you!

    you do not offend or upset me here.

    we have no doubt have different motivations or concepts with regard to these kinds of conversations. my attempts to clarify why i think what i do using reason make me seem arrogant to you. your calling me names and reacting without addressing anything i say seems like a defensive ad hominem attack to me.

    you claim not to have time for opinions but express them liberally, when i tell you mine and try to explain why it makes me a fundamentalist.

    oh well. clearly we are not well suited debate partners! :)

    i do wish you well and know that your fiery heart is in the right place.

    all the best and sweet dreams.

  106. "Your calling me names" and "ad hominem attack"….this is precisely why I don't want to engage with you, yogijulian.

  107. Maggie says:

    Unfortunately I seriously doubt they will be unbiased – after all John certified them and appointed them to be on the ethics committee. Besides, this was so well known within the tighter circles of the community I can't imagine that some on the committee didn't already know about the ethic violations however they chose to look the other way.

  108. Chat on says:

    its obvious this comment doesn't belong on this conversation. i dont see anywhere that braja sorensen is calling you names or launching what debaters parlance refers to as ad hominem attacks. someone doesnt want to engage with you, but you seem to want to make them explain and when they do, you tell them theyre name calling and attackign. these are not mature debater tactics and if you have an issue with braja sorensen then keep it conifned to where it began and dont chase a person around the internet trying to make them answer you when theyve made it clear they dont want. nothing personal; braja sorensen could be an axe murderer for all i know ;) but she hasnt name called or attacked you. possibly the other way round if you had to count.

  109. Chat on says:

    that was for yogijulian. why do people call themselves yogis? !!

  110. Kathy says:

    Thanks for this post, so lovely and affirming.

  111. GetReal says:

    very cool.

  112. elephantjournal says:

    You haven't seen the comments we're deleting, Kim. We welcome criticism of me and elephant and anything and anyone–but respectful, thoughtful criticism only.

  113. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    appreciating your voice kimberly.

  114. Doug says:

    Fair enough — I don't disagree with your point about our need to reflect upon ourselves at all.

  115. elephantjournal says:

    I agree. I don't think he's free from blame, clearly, and anyone who does is in denial. But to say that the groupie/rockstar syndrome we see in many yoga communities—what Buddhists would call theism—is something we as students and communities are innocent of invites a repeat of the scandals that have rocked various famous yoga teachers. I could list five off the top of my head.

    If we want to learn from this and move forward constructively, the hate, downvoting and righteousness won't get us there. We might have to look at ourselves, too.

  116. FREE says:

    The person bringing the lawsuit (Plaintiff) has to carry the burden of truth, I mean burden of proof…

  117. Guest says:

    Christina, this is important information. What is known about an intervention by teachers confronting John about his behavior?

  118. Christina says:

    I just know that it happened at a teachers gathering 2010 and they addressed drugs and maybe women. The certified teachers involved would have to tell you more, but that info is out there.

  119. Waylon Lewis says:

    where? I'd love to know, too. ~ Waylon.

  120. Waylon Lewis says:

    I don't consider that friendship is equivalent to agreeing with someone. My friends keep me honest, and vice versa.

    John and I are not "friends." We have never hung out socially. I have always eye-rolled at bliss and new agey stuff, wherever I find it. I do however know him to be a great teacher, kind, human, and have a hard time seeing him in these comments painting him as the devil. He made mistakes, and he needs to take responsibility. We all make mistakes, and one of those mistakes in this case is putting yoga teachers and gurus up on a pedestal.

  121. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    well said.

  122. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    fair enough chat on. this interaction has taken place over a couple different threads, so it may seem out of context here.

    i actually am fine letting the conversation go – and am certainly not "chasing anyone all over the internet!" yikes. :)

    i do appreciate where you are coming from though, as i do with braja.

    have a good day.

  123. hya says:

    Mistakes are one thing and lack of integrity is another. Time will show which one is the case.

    Another letter has been sent from Anusara HQ to teachers: http://bayshakti.com/changes-ahead-anusara-to-bec

  124. "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. "

    My issue is "consenting."

  125. chan says:

    how do we define self control and moderation? one man's moderation might seem excessive to another…

    this is more of a general philosophical question – not pertaining to current JF news

  126. Yogesh says:

    If you know anything about Anusara and the way John runs it, saying no to John is a good way to be shown the exit. People implicitly knew this, thus the years of silence from staff, ex-employees and teachers.

  127. elephantjournal says:

    Actually, it's just the opposite. If, as others have said, we don't buy into theism, then we don't get duped by others or our own seeking-wisdom-and-happiness-externally. It's all about self-respect and strength, and keeping critical intelligence always. Never giving up our own power or ability to listen to our own intelligence.

  128. elephantjournal says:

    It's easy to appreciate voices that agree with the mob…and there is a mob mentality going on in these comments. I don't include you or Kim–I love your criticism, it's intelligent, incisive without hitting below the belt (though in this case that might be apropos).

    The mob mentality is apparent when any comment that isn't of one pov gets downvoted. I'm critical of John, as many have pointed out…and yet because I refuse to demonize him, everything I say gets downvoted. It's silly to care–but it is symbolic of the same sort of theism that got Anusara (and, as I've pointed out, many other communities) into this mess.

  129. elephantjournal says:

    Good point! I don't think it's ethical to sleep with someone's girlfriend, let alone wife. My point was echoing someone else's point, however…that people's relationships aren't my business and I don't know what's going on in these relationships. Ethics, however, are my business and yours and that's what I questioned John about.

    That said, again, the root of this issue to me is about theism, and learning from that is how we can avoid duping ourselves in the future. This has happened in community after community—I mentioned my own Buddhist community, others have mentioned a string of famous yoga teachers, and Kripalu.

  130. elephantjournal says:

    Yes: this to me gets at the heart of the problem. Surrounding oneself with yesmen and yeswomen is never healthy for any of us, in our business or personal lives.

  131. elephantjournal says:

    Um…they sold out to the man long ago. Still a good company, though!

    Dr. Bronner's is awesome, however, love them. Don't love all the plastic.

  132. elephantjournal says:

    That's the root of the problem, and that needs to change. That said I know of at least one Anusara student who told me she openly disagreed and continued to practice in the community. It's always our choice whether to buy into conformity.

  133. KAT says:

    Yes,Yogesh, you are correct. Happened to me first hand. Several years ago I , as a certified Anusara teacher, disagreed with some of JF's alignment theory pertaining to MY specific bodily misalignment and communicated this to the senior certified Anusara teacher in town along with the fact that I was interested in learning more about Yin yoga and maybe some training in that style. She immediately "reported" this to JF. I was accused of betrayal and had to turn in my certification. No dialogue from the senior teacher nor from JF. At the time my perception of the situation was (WTF!) this is pretty dysfunctional, crazy, surreal behavior from both and despite my shock and sadness, I worked very hard for 7 yeas training in this style, happily (especially now) moved on from Anusara as quickly as possible. I feel horribly sad for the "Anusara Kula" in that I am sure many feel betrayed by JF. It is a blow to the whole yoga community and I am sure a catalyst for GREAT change. I wish everyone peace in all of this.

  134. elephantjournal says:

    Really, VQ?

  135. elephantjournal says:

    They mistake tact for softball.

    That's fine. John knew I was going to ask what I wanted, and I knew I'd get more forthcoming answers if I didn't demonize him. Considering that I don't consider him a demon, but rather a human being who allowed himself to drown in the cult of his own success, charm, charisma and yesmen and groupies, that was easy.

  136. elephantjournal says:

    I'd like to point out that I got what I could get, and at the time it was a lot. It was the first time he admitted to affairs, or showed legal documents going back years re the pensions. No one else had got more—and while we're far from real journalism, here, real journalists haven't touched this. They will, and when they do, I look forward to learning from the masters.

    In the meantime, no one can stop you anonymous heroes from enjoying your lazy righteousness.

  137. elephantjournal says:

    Exactly. We're here for debate. We're not here to enable anonymous hating, which is a disease internet-wide.

    As for deserving better, I agree. I was not offered a real interview. I had to send questions and it took two days to get them back. I was however glad that John had answered them himself, personally. I have to point out that no one, at that time, and even now three days later, has gotten more out of him. It was difficult, and I rise up and look you in the eye at questioning my dedication. I devote myself to this kind of story and did my best. That it was not good enough is something I agree with. But don't question my dedication, and if you do so, include your full name, so we're on equal standing. ~ Waylon Lewis

  138. elephantjournal says:

    I was not offered follow up questions. I did ask for a live interview. Thanks again for belittling what I was able to get, which was something more than what we'd had at that point.

    And again I don't claim to be doing real journalism here–I was trained in the real thing and have too much respect for the craft and institution. We're a glorified blog. Journalism is dying fast because readers don't like to pay to read, so we can't pay our writers, etc etc. I'm sure you've read the articles in one of the few rags left standing.

  139. elephantjournal says:

    Wow to that. Amazing lack of walking talk, there.

  140. elephantjournal says:

    No disrespect to me or my interview process? You showed plenty above. Be consistent: criticize me.

    Again, I was limited in this interview, and managed to ask straight-up questions. I'm sorry if my trying to be kind and tactful in between what I regarded as straight-up, tough questions struck you the wrong way. You try, given the limitations I and others faced. Again, it was the first interview, and getting it was tough, and there were limitations.

  141. Yogesh says:

    The root of this problem is John's lack of integrity – both sleeping inappropriately with employees and creating an environment with implicit consequences. There are people who are very empowered like your mom and T.A.H. who would be able to say "no" to the teacher or guru (and in this organziation, face any negative consequences). And in fact, some empowered people would be really happy and see it as an opportunity to sleep with the teacher/employer in order to become a co-partner in power brokering or in order to become an important staffer in the organization. I am sure it happens all the time. But even in an imagined world full of empowered people who could never be taken advantage of, organizations put ethics rules in place for their managers and leaders to follow in order to protect THEMSELVES from being accused or sued for sexual harassment. John is either foolish, narcissistic or delusional to believe that he could have sexual relations with students or employees and not expect someone to eventually feel angry, jilted or ashamed, ect.

  142. Fujiko says:

    I am reading through this whole blog again….wow…..some may be anonymous because of the consequences!

  143. karlsaliter says:

    NATCH. THis is the best coverage existing now. Got a problem with it? Conduct your own JF interview. I'll loan you my invisible phone from this article: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/sex-lies-a

    One day I was trying to find a trailhead for the divide near Ned. 4 people told me where to find it , and why I would not make it that day. Once I got on the trail, the 4 people who I saw there were certain I would get there just fine.

    Is anyone commenting here, attempting to point the way of journalism, a journalist?

  144. John Joseph John Joseph says:

    I hadn't realized this wasn't a face to face interview: that answers why there were not more deep digging follow up questions….now, if you could get him face to face, that would be interesting!

  145. Yogesh says:

    I posted this earlier but bares repeating….The root of this problem is John's lack of integrity. There are people who are very empowered like you who would be able to say "no" to the teacher or guru (and in this organziation, face any negative consequences). And in fact, some very empowered people would be really happy and see it as an opportunity to sleep with the teacher/employer in order to become a co-partner in power brokering or in order to become an important staffer in the organization. I am sure it happens all the time. But even in an imagined world full of empowered people who could never be taken advantage of, organizations put ethics rules in place for their managers and leaders to follow in order to protect THEMSELVES from being accused or sued for sexual harassment. John is either foolish, narcissistic or delusional to believe that he could have sexual relations with students or employees and not expect someone to eventually feel angry, jilted or ashamed, ect.

  146. Kristina says:

    I double-checked the TT manual just to see what he actually said – I mis-spoke in saying that he explicitly forbids relationships between teachers and students, but he does say this:

    "Many students look to the yoga teacher as a guide and mentor, not only for physical development, but for emotional and spiritual development as well. Students tend to project high ideals on to the teacher, so they often think the teacher is more spiritually advanced that they are. Consequently, the student will tend to trust and open up to the teacher in a more physically vulnerable and emotionally receptive way than in most relationships. This creates an inherent power differential between the teacher and the student. Because of this power differential, we must be vigilant to uphold the integrity of the seat of the teacher. We must never exploit the vulnerability of the student for our own personal gain or gratification. Clear boundaries must be established and maintained in our role of serving our students. We must take the responsibility of creating and sustaining both a sacred and safe environment for all students."

    He then goes on to say that if there is sexual attraction between a teacher and a student, you have to be extremely careful in order to avoid adharmic behavior, and that the teacher should remain steadfast in your ethical behavior towards others.

  147. Oh, careful…if you say anything like this here it gets squashed or red arrowed, because that changes minds and effects lives :)))

  148. Guru lover says:

    Thanks for posting this. We all contradict ourselves sometimes. It's good to know that at least he was considering these ideas. I am particularly fond of my guru, in fact I think he can do no harm to me. He hasn't, and beyond that he has only been positive which has allowed me to open up to him in ways I never have with other people. It is due to just such openness that I could allow myself to find a very conditioned nirvana in his presence. It's freakishly effortless. The aspect of it being conditioned is probably one of the most important steps towards self-realization as we learn how conditioned, self-centered, and limitted our ideas of happiness are. Only by realizing how we conceive of cessation of suffering, can we give it up for the good of others and find a truly unconditioned happiness that is not separate from the benefit of others.

  149. Oooh, touchy a bit, eh? I'm glad you asked the questions you wanted answered, Waylon. What I was questioning in my opening remark was the "tough question" build-up you "pre-rambled" on about. The interview didn't need it.

    Perhaps folk can disagree on what "tough questions" really are and what a soft-ball interview sounds like….

  150. John Joseph John Joseph says:

    Way, I don't feel she is belittling you. She's just pushing you to the next level. Clearly, JF softballed his answers, making it about him and his spiritual growth from the process. It is remarkable that you got his trust enough (as you said, you knew you couldn't demonize him) to get some answers. I'd love to see a face to face interview.

  151. CDano says:

    Sounds more like EJ is afraid to call a spade a spade.

    What you say may be true in regards to the consumer, but it's just being used as an ruse to turn the focus away from the real issue. The 'Spirtual' equivalent of putting your head in the sand.

  152. maurice says:

    I didn't realize this wasn't a live interview. Too bad. It was really incumbent upon John to come forward with substantial explanations and he obviously chose not to.

    My apologies to Waylon. Obviously there was no opportunity for you to follow up.

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