A Personal Reaction to Rumors, Accusations & Community.

Via Jennifer Cusano
on Feb 3, 2012
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We need to remember what we value when faced with rumors and slander that have no place in our community.

Here’s Waylon’s response to the yoga controversy.

I was shocked to my core today. From the inside out.

One of the many reasons I was so intrigued by the Yogic community was because of the authentic, compassionate and loving ways the


members treat one another. Before I made the decision that Yoga—and by that I mean all of Yoga, not just the asanas but the beliefs, principles and values as well—was for me, my life was not filled with the beautiful friendships and mindful living that has become a part of my daily life and path, since. That is not to say that I didn’t experience some genuine relationships, but for most of my life I was surrounded by people who smiled in your face and talked shit behind your back.

I did it too.

The relief I felt when I was no longer a part of and no longer subjected myself to those types of things was paramount. In the time since I have been a part of and witnessed some amazing things. When we Yogis get together and put our minds to it, we can change the world. We are changing the world. So today, when I was subjected to something you would see happen in the tabloids—a lewd exposure of the most personal of things with the intention to destroy someone’s career, livelihood, their family, their complete person—not only was I deeply saddened but I felt horribly betrayed.

For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, an anonymous website has been constructed to expose a yoga teacher, and those closest to this person who will no doubt be collateral damage. The material was vulgar, yet has snaked its way, shamefully, through our community. The specifics of which are not yet important because, for now, they are rumor-based.

The issue at hand now, here for me was the way it is being dealt with: through gossip.

A Statement From Waylon:

“Having a serious discussion about healthy community can be hard, and important, and is a part of our mission. The anonymous site in question does not do so in the form of a dialogue, and we will not link to it. If you want more info about it, go to Yogadork.”


Our community is bound by the Yamas and Niyamas. They are our moral commandments, the model by which we live each day. I am so proud to be one of those people.  Ahimsa and Satya have been broken by this anonymous person and I refuse to abandon my beliefs  by reproducing what I believe to be slanderous statements about somebody else. We are not supposed to cause harm, that is not what we stand for and there are no exceptions to this standard. If that is to hard to understand then maybe a simpler way to say it would be that I choose to mind my own business.

Still, it is important to be honest and transparent—and when and if we have firsthand, non-anonymous information, we’ll seek to honor this painful issue with a constructive dialogue. Middle Way. ~ Waylon Lewis, ed.

Let me ask you this: what do you think the intentions were behind this publication? It appears to have been executed specifically to cause irreversible harm. Is it our duty as human beings to not pre-judge until we have the facts…but we have a responsibility to remain true to our genuine nature and uphold the commitments we have made by choosing to live our lives in a mindful way. Talking trash and spreading rumors is not conducive.

How quickly the contributions and sacrifices that have been of benefit to our community can be easily forgotten in the mists of gossip and accusation.

It is my heartfelt desire that, as a community, we treat this situation respectfully and mindfully. Let’s keep in constant awareness of the damage we can do by conversing in an unhealthy manner. Let’s keep our intentions behind our actions pure and authentic. This is how we live our lives daily, and this unfortunate occurrence is a time when we need to be most vigilant, awake, kind and honest.




About Jennifer Cusano

Jennifer Cusano, social media aficionado, research connoisseur, and writer du jour, is a Yogi on a path of personal exploration and long overdue healing. Managing Editor for YOGANONYMOUS, Producer for Where Is My Guru, Director of Social Media for YOGASCAPES and TumericALIVE, wife and mother of three, Jenn is really a superhero in disguise—or so she likes to think. In her spare time Jenn likes to read about and search for vampires, so if you happen to know or come across one, please do send them her way. Hit her up on Facebook or Twitter to discuss the various methods of tracking down said vampires. Also she is more than a little uncomfortable writing about herself in the third person, it may just be the hardest thing she's had to do, and that's saying something...


56 Responses to “A Personal Reaction to Rumors, Accusations & Community.”

  1. yogijulian says:

    very complex issue.

    i agree that gossip is toxic, damaging and often untrue.

    at the same time – as this story unfolds it will no doubt carry important lessons for the yoga community.

    some do feel that the yamas and niyamas are their code of living. some resonate more with other moral codes or ethical principles.

    in any event, if the accusations are true john friend would be the one in violation of said ethics and moral codes, not those telling the story.

    so – i suggest restraint until it is clear what is really going on.

    this does not however sound like mere rumor mongering – it sounds like what is unfortunately an all too common portrait of the charismatic guru figure at the head of a lucrative organization being somewhat corrupted by power and adulation.

    of course none of us know the facts – but i am slightly confused by the notion that it is a bad thing to tell the truth about such a big story once it is known.

    JF is a huge figure in this community – and the recent departures of several prominent senior teachers from his organizations had many wondering what was really going on behind the BS love and light, everything is perfect official statements…

    i am 100% on board that the man should not be crucified on the tree of public opinion based on rumors – but also have a stake in the conversation regarding exposing the shadow that is so so common in spiritual communities, and that is perpetuated by the kind of denial that turns a blind eye in the name of not saying anything negative…

  2. Dear Jen – what a beautiful tribute to how this has affected YOU and how the practices of yoga have changed YOUR WALK and how this situation made YOU feel. Thank you.

    We can all only speak, react, respond, etc – from our own experience. BUT, as a community – what principles do we want to uphold? What will we allow ourselves to be raised or reduced to?

    For me – this situation begs a deeper question as to what I did when I saw the material, how I responded, what my first reaction was, what I chose to do or chose not to do with the information that at the end of the day – "is none of my business" and actually is none of any of ours.

    It is an interesting time for the yoga community. Will we hide behind our own masks, pride, yoga style, etc? Could this be a situation where the only thing needed is compassion? Do we need to react? Should we be responding?

    I am asking myself and all of you these questions.

  3. Beautifully written Jennifer. Well done.- Jeannie

  4. Emily Perry says:

    wow. speechless, really. much love to all yogis out there!

  5. Matthew says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is the people who are involved in this are grown adults who should accept the consequences of their behavior.

  6. Amy C. says:

    Let's start with the freezing pensions thing. That is WHACK. Federal investigation implies illegal activity. NY Times tried to open the disicussion on Mr Friend last year. They will get a hold of this. Welcome to reality. Wish I couldve seen the pics but the site kept crashing. The whole thing sounds very misogynist. Shocking but not in the least surprising.

  7. Ben_Ralston says:

    This is what happens when spiritual practice is used as a vehicle for fame and fortune,
    when personal gain trumps respect for lineage,
    when the student proclaims himself teacher of teachers.

    Jenn – to answer your question, it feels to me that the intentions behind the original anonymous website were malicious and vindictive. As you say – to cause harm.

  8. yogijulian says:

    well having looked it over i must say in order for this not to be true it would have to be a very elaborate and imaginative hoax which someone with extremely malicious motives would have had to spend a lot of time concocting…..

    i am also a bit confused by the stance that is being fairly firmly insisted upon with a kind of implied moral high ground.

  9. yogijulian says:

    ah ha! the links were not working when i tried before – now i understand a little better the explicit and sensationalist nature of the expose site. very interesting and bizarre – perhaps unnecessary, though i am sure they would argue they wanted to make the truth known by any means at hand…

    personally i still think though that the alleged lies, hypocrisy and abuse of power are MUCH more serious offenses than having the gall to be the one pointing out that the emperor is wearing no clothes, has a joint in his hand and his employees pensions frozen in his bank account!

    bear in mind people close to this fiasco are probably deeply wounded and betrayed by it all – they are the actual victims.

  10. […] We live in a grey world. Our society is very, very grey – phone hacking, money-makes-money banking, countries invaded under the guise of WMD that were never there. Soap operas and adverts and MTV and internet-filters and rigged elections and Arms Fairs and Oil dependency and Global Warming and… on and on. One scandal, one controversy after another. […]

  11. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    I have no idea what's going on – maybe that's an okay thing?! :-)

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Again, we never said we'd keep quiet, that's not our job, our job is to communicate. We said we would hold off on reporting facts until we knew was was fact and what was mere invective. As for the statement above, that was JC's,, and folks are allowed to speak their mind here. In this case I did ask our writers, all except JC who had already come forward in an heartfelt way, to hold off.

    We did that out of respect, despite it being giving up a scoop or breaking news, which is what the media lives for.

  13. Yogini says:

    The site is down but I took a look at it yesterday and felt disgusted. Clearly the poster does not really get yoga and Mr. Teacher has some serious karma to resolve with this event. But better resolve it now rather than in another lifetime.
    When I see yoga articles with sexy women and catchy titles, I also wonder when that karma is going to be resolved.
    There is still a lot that is not understood when using publicity for yoga. There is still a lot of ego and a lot of fear in the yoga community. I read a beautiful quote from a NYC man who devotes all his time to the poor and sick in India and Africa that seems to be closer to yoga than any of this current chaos: The only news worth paying attention to is the news that comes from the depths of your internal experience. CL

  14. melissa says:

    I will persevere no matter the waves around me… love and light and hope for community.

  15. […] Posted on February 9, 2012 by Richard Hudak Here are a few thoughts I recorded over on Elephant Journal, in response to the controversy over its decision not to publish the JF Exposed allegations […]

  16. […] and rigged elections and Arms Fairs and Oil dependency and Global Warming and… on and on. One scandal, one controversy after another. This is what happens when spiritual practice is used as a vehicle for fame and fortune, when […]

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