The Auspicious Efficacy of John Friend’s Words.

Via on Feb 9, 2012

A few days ago as a certain scandal began to break

The elephant yoga writers were asked not mention the subject or link to any websites covering the calumny…until more information was uncovered. It seemed reasonable and responsible to report only facts, and then let you decide for yourself what to think.

Around this same time, for absolutely no reason whatsoever John Friend was on my mind. This had nothing to do with the scandal we were instructed keep silent about, I just really dig John Friend. Groovy dudes in spandex shorts and t-shirts designed by Ed Hardy’s hindu twin turn me on.

Maybe it was the arrival of Imbolc, or maybe I’m just a Yoga Dork, but a vision as clear as a diamond from Tiffany, grim it was not, sent me to the internet to learn more about this wondrous sorcerer who loves double rainbows, double blessings, everything in two’s. When he’s around Swans, (be it a Michael or a Michele) the chicks spontaneously pair up and form hearts with their necks. Haas avocados fall from trees and turn instantly into guacamole right in the palm of his hands. And when it rains the nectar from the sky is as sweet as Knudsen’s cherry juice. Have you ever seen a picture of a Knudsen cherry? Probably not if you read elephantjJournal. Well let me tell ya, John Friend’s world is an auspicious one indeed.

The last time I’d thought of John Friend was the first time I’d ever heard of him, a couple of summers ago, when the NYT wrote an article dubbing him a “yoga mogul.” They said he made a lot of money and insinuated that women threw themselves at him. This made him upset, which in turn made me curious. What man wouldn’t want the world’s most trusted source of information (other than elephant journal, as proven by Waylon) to write such a story about him? Well, perhaps a man who wants to hide how much money he makes, and how many women throw themselves at him. You can decide that for yourself.

I was intrigued by this yoga gangsta, but because I’m not a housewife having a midlife crisis searching for an identity I had never heard of Anusara. I’d seen Amy Ippoliti on the cover of YJ and thought she was smokin’, but had no idea she was part of a cult; that would’ve knocked her from a 10 to an 8, which means now that she’s left Anusara she’s an 11. The first thing I did to familiarize myself with this enigmatic man was go to his Twitter account and basically what I learned was he’s either a Kalifornia nut, or a complete bullshit artist. You can decide that one for yourself. I then wrote an article comparing JF’s tweets to some of Snooki’s, because love her or hate her, Snooki lives her truth, and perhaps others who claim to do the same with great efficacy do not. And again, you can decide that for yourself.

That was two years ago, and until February 3rd of 2012 I hadn’t given John Friend another thought. But then the scandal broke and enticed me to dance with the divine and dig for clues and answers from John Friend’s words once more. Wild, unsubstantiated claims had been made about this man on an anonymous website. There were X-rated pictures, and Skype screen shots, and an excerpt from a letter that John Friend had supposedly written to a woman, who wasn’t even his girlfriend, trying to explain the spiritual virtues of their recent menage-a-trois. No one knows if John Friend wrote the letter or not. He certainly has not admitted so, nor is it likely that he ever will.

This letter held my attention though. Being an author, other peoples’ writing really interests me. Word choices, sentence structure, grammatical use, they all leave a unique stamp authentic to the writer. Especially if the writer is a bullsh*t artist. Bullsh*t artists’ words are like fingerprints because bullsh*t artists spend so much of their time spinning their bullsh*t they often fall into a pattern and use the same phrasing and words without even realizing it.

One sentence in the letter was particularly intriguing:

…[Name Redacted] joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices…”

Auspicious and efficacy = Words not used every day. They certainly don’t come to mind as the natural choice of diction employed by a guy trying to calm a jilted lover having buyer’s remorse after a threesome, unless of course he’s the Pablo Picasso of bullsh*t artistry.

So I googled: ‘John Friend, Auspicious’

The man is in love with this word. Not only has he used it in tweets six times in the past year, here are just a few examples of where it pops up in his writings and interviews:

  • In a YJ interview in 2010 - “Everything in its essence is benevolent, good, and auspicious.”
  • On the (ironically) Ethics page of his Anusara website - “Overall, the Anusara yogi seeks to glorify Shri — that which is life-enhancing, beautiful, and auspicious.”
  • In a letter her wrote for the Southwest Yoga Conference - “Then to complete the cycle of auspicious, life-giving, and life-offering experience, supreme love rains down on the giver.”
  • From a post on his blog - “This Sanskrit word, Shiva, can be translated as auspiciousness or goodness, which reflects the Tantric idea that God or Supreme Consciousness is fundamentally a positive, affirming presence.”
  • When wishing his brand a happy birthday - “The birth of Anusara 12 years ago on this auspicious day was the culmination of an evolution within my yoga studies and practice that was many years in the making.”
  • From the philosophy page on his website - “Everything manifests as a result of the dance of Divine polarities, the mystical marriage between Shiva and Shakti that is auspicious consciousness vibrating with Freedom and is full of the highest Bliss.”

So I thought that was pretty interesting…that someone would fake a letter written by John Friend and be so clever as to use one of his most favorite words, (and with such efficacy, too). So I reread the sentence that may or may not have been written by John Friend:

…[Name Redacted] joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices…”

Then I googled: ‘John Friend, Efficacy’

  • From an Anusara newsletter he wrote in 2010- “Our Anusara team has increased to 19, and we are amplifying the already existing high level of professionalism and efficacy.”
  • From an interview right here in elephant journal in 2011- “The efficacy of how we manifest our dreams is reflective of our metaphysical viewpoint.”
  • From another interview in 2011- “Furthermore, the Universal Principles of Alignment always work for me, and I knew that if anyone sincerely applied them, they would be amazed by their efficacy and their transformative power”
  • From his website describing the ‘Anusara Immersion’- “An Introduction to Ayurveda, study of the Bhagavad Gita, landmarks for measuring the efficacy of the practice, and subtle body anatomy are explored.”
  • From tumblr- “According to John Friend, the father of Anusara yoga, “[One of] the most fundamental ways to measure the efficacy of yoga teaching is to gauge how students feel about themselves at the end of a class…””

Then I read the sentence again:

…[Name Redacted] joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices…”

Are these the words of John Friend? You can decide that for yourself.

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About Jimmy Gleacher

Jimmy Gleacher is the author of three books and movie. He is currently working on his fourth book, THE YOGA TERRORIST. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. For more information please visit his website, jimmygleacher.net.

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16 Responses to “The Auspicious Efficacy of John Friend’s Words.”

  1. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    I LOL'd.
    Thanks for that :)
    Ben

  2. Lisa Rivera says:

    Interesting indeed. Where there is smoke there is fire. I don't know much of John Friend either-thankfully. But in the current climate of yoga and much of the bs being passed as "spirituality" it would not surprise me that this man abused his position. What I do think we need to remember tho is that these "followers" drank the kool aid and went along with him for the ride. Maybe ignoring their own intuition all along. Live and learn right.

  3. This is such an unpleasant article. I know that as a fellow elephant journal writer, I should perhaps not so harsh on your post, but I am really surprised that you cared so little for the seriousness of the situation, and frankly, for the feelings & reputations for the women involved and affected by the situation that you chose to make jokes & puns with their names. You compare one to jewelery & then pun on her last name. You compare another to fruit & allude to her juice or nectar. You then rate a third woman on her appearance, giving her numerical value.

    Nice going. It is a misogynistic post or perhaps merely careless and thoughtless. Is this what the situation warrants?

    And to be transparent, I am an Anusara teacher, but with my eyes wide open. Get the facts. With this article you help no one. All you do is further damage women’s lives.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Susanna, you're eloquent in your criticism. I don't ever mind criticism of any kind or pov, even at a fellow elephanter, as long as it's thoughtful. You're very sweet and I wish I could be with you and the many others who've steadied elephant during this turbulent time as we try and negotiate this drama with some integrity and positive effect.

  4. All the sensible and balanced will laugh….:)

  5. ps: sorry, not that it was just "funny." Nice angle, fresh, well researched. Nice to meet you Jimmy :)

  6. SQR says:

    I'm tempted to use the term "fluff" for this piece, but that might be a bit harsh- it's funny and written well enough… not sure what it adds to the conversation at this point, though.

  7. GangstaYogi? says:

    Your lame attempt to be clever with the use of these women's last names in paragraph 3 is both immature and douchy. Why even go there? I don't know John nor do I practice Anusara but it sounds like the man created a brand of yoga that yogis all of the planet seem to enjoy. If he wants to have fivesomes, smoke pounds of ganja and sit back enjoy financial fruits of his labor, who are you or anybody else to judge him. This whole "scandal" reeks of jealousy and so does this blog entry. Since when did Elephant Journal become TMZ?

  8. monayoga says:

    I have studied with John since 1999 and watched as the kula, and John have grown and evolved. In more than 300 hours of direct study with John, I've heard his language many, many times – auspicious, efficacy, heart opening, etc. A born cynic, I nevertheless find his approach to yoga and to life refreshing, validating and uplifting. Over time I think many of us internalize the language; I find myself saying things that John says in class without even realizing it. It is perfectly viable that someone could have written the letter attributed to him adopting his favorite words and phrases. Or perhaps he did write it. But either way, there has clearly been some overstepping of boundaries, for which John seems to be moving quickly to take responsibility for and to rectify. And whatever the actions of the women he was involved, with, the ultimate responsibility to set boundaries rests with him. While the situation is disappointing, I agree with GangstaYogi that what goes on behind closed doors is more or less his business – as long as it doesn't devolve into abuse. My mentor says, "until we are enlightened we are all flawed human beings." Even those who aspire to the highest level stumble and fall at times.

  9. nic says:

    and what exactly is this article about? there's something else that I have learned in – gasp – an Anusara training, which is not just to be aware of what you say, but if it's truthful, NECESSARY and if it can be said in kind way – which for me, includes the intention not to hurt anyone on purpose .. truly a waste of time, to write and to read.

  10. Justin says:

    it's about the mans integrity. and his integrity and efficacy as a teacher should be questioned all around.

  11. daila says:

    I took a yoga class with John a few times. not once did he rape me.

  12. Frank says:

    I took a class with John at Wanderlust last year. I got the feeling he radiated insincerity and bathed in the adoration of most of the participants.(Those that didn't get up and leave) I left with the urge to take a shower.

  13. [...] these terms mean, but make sure you pepper them throughout your normal watercooler talk): namaste, efficacy, peace, love, open up, resonating, what [...]

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