Here’s what elephant has to say about the web site accusing a prominent yoga teacher of various things.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 3, 2012
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The above Buddhist symbol, of a vajra, or “thunderbolt of discriminating awareness wisdom” has been featured instead of the below “Forgive” image because the vajra represents a few things more appropriate to this situation. First, the vajra is the coolest symbol ever: it represents the relaxed certainty that arises when we ground our body, speech and mind in the present moment. So let’s all take a step back from curiosity, and breathe, shall we?

The vajra represents two other things: an openness to wisdom and discussion (the gaps in the vajra let truth in) and at the same time a cutting of discursive harmful intent (the vajra itself).

We are all here for compassion and waking up, at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean we ought to suppress anything, or exploit it. Middle way, all the way.

~ Waylon, ed-in-chief.


Update: a timely comment/image via a senior teacher’s page. Updated note: I take this image to mean “take a step back, and remember the point of all this–practice.” But it could also be taken to mean “shut up.” Which is not what we’re about. An unwillingness to openly discuss such issues is a huge problem in the Buddhist world I grew up in, too. I’ll leave it up, but with this caveat: we are happy to discuss controversy, but only if 1) it’s sourced fact and 2) there’s a point to doing so. If we could have an intelligent, constructive discussion around the issues involved in this case, I would welcome that. That is what elephant journal is here for. ~ ed.

‎”Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

Here’s what elephant has to say about the yoga web site accusing a prominent teacher of various things.


We are not afraid of publishing anything. We often post controversial issues. That said, we do not publish slander or rumor. If facts come to light, or anyone directly involved including the accused wish to comment, we will share such. Until then, we will not fan the flames when lives are involved. ~ Waylon.

An anonymous career, reputation and family-ruining web site is not the way to deal with such painful community issues, whether true, or no, or halfway in between.

For those who don’t know what’s going on, an anonymous web site has gone up with various accusations about various people. I am ashamed to say the site has been passed along like wildfire. Elephant is here to talk about difficult questions and raise gossip into intelligent, thoughtful discourse. We talk about controversies and we love writing popular articles. But we are not here to hurt people. An anonymous web site is not the way to do this.

Here is my statement to the hundreds of elephant writers:

A really sad controversy has come up. We do not seek to profit off this controversy by publishing gossipy articles. Jenn Cusano has asked, and been given permission to write something simple and link to an article about it on another yoga web site. If anyone else wants to write something intelligent, thoughtful and ahimsa-ish, great. But no, no, no links to the web site in question.

Sorry to be vague, but I do not wish to fan the flames. Please relax your curiosity, and remember that people’s lives and reputations and families are involved. You can read Jenn’s article if you’re curious to know the basic situation, which is sad, whether it’s true or no, or halfway in between.



Here is my statement that I asked Jenn to include in response to her wondering if we should write about this.

“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.”


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


46 Responses to “Here’s what elephant has to say about the web site accusing a prominent yoga teacher of various things.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you for upholding journalistic and yogic standards.



  2. elephantjournal says:

    When you hit nerves you know you are doing what writers do best…getting people thinking and talking. Thank you, blessings, Jan

  3. This is not only the most appropriate response to the accusations, but I believe also the most yogic. Thank you.

  4. Tabitha says:

    There should be no argument. Breathe in, Breathe out…..and its gone….

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Comment via Westlye Anson, with names removed:

    I partially agree with your position on this Waylon….however, your first call the moment you heard this better have been to the source AND to XXXXXX Yoga. While rumors are just "rumors", the amount of negative turmoil with XXXXX Yoga should lead you to seriously investigate those accusations. Famous XXXX Yogis have a well known history as "sexual predators" and this story has all the similarities of another example of them using and abusing their power. You can say NOTHING but then you might want to ask yourself…."Why do I call this Elephant Journal?"

    My reply:
    As I say above, we are not saying nothing end of story.

    We are saying nothing for now, as long as all we have to go off of is anonymous accusations, gossip and rumors. We're aiming, as you say, to do journal-ism, and to be a part of the conversation about spirituality and being of benefit in the west.

    As in the Buddhist community, Westerners love idol worship and love sex and when the two combine, well, then we love to tear folks off their pedestals (that we helped put them on) and site back and act superior, and uninvolved. Theism, as least from the Buddhist pov, is the root problem. As Pattabhi Jois reminds us, practice, and all is coming. Now is a time to step back and focus on our own lives, and practice compassion for all involved. As the teacher above says, forgive. Drama is fun but if not helpful and benevolent is only harmful to real human beings and their families. My concern is with all involved.

    I think until one of those involved or mentioned comes forward, we have nothing but anonymous gossip and career/life-ruining accusations to go off of, and I don't want to be a part of that.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Yogodork's site is down right now….how much you want to bet the XXXXX legal team filed an injunction or threatened a lawsuit? Publishing unverified information from anonymous sources is not journalism. So glad that Ele is holding to a journalistic standard.



  7. elephantjournal says:

    Comment via our colleagues at RecoveringYogi on YD's site:

    Vanessa Fiola:

    Interesting turn of events… Recovering Yogi was approached several months back (and then more recently) by someone claiming to have this insight. We politely declined the offer.

    Clearly he (or someone else) was not to be deterred. Ahem.

  8. Westley Anson says:

    Good, stay on top of this! However, you probably shouldn't have quoted Pattabhi Jois as he also has his share of "sexual predator issues" including the infamous photo of him "adjusting" 2 Yoginis in Halasana.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Hah! Great point. I actually shared that photo a few years back when I found it on a FAIL blog, a non-yoga site. I study Ashtanga, so that should remove any doubts of our/my willingness to discuss controversy. What was different in that case? The photo appeared genuine, and was backed up by many first-hand within the Ashtanga community.

  10. elephantjournal says:

    Love you and your comment, Annie.

  11. Michael says:

    That is quite a load of accusations to publish without proof. Is yogadork the National Enquirer of holistic well being?
    If anything was perverted in what I've read of the article, it's the notion of mixing wicca and yoga….. keep it real, keep it Hindu

  12. elephantjournal says:

    I love and respect YD and her writing. I respect her choice, here, though I disagree with the timing, personally, I think it's best to wait for a source to come forward, and take this out of the realm of gossip into a bit more fact where lives and reputations are concerned. Still, I thought she did a thoughtful job of breaking the news we and RY chose not to break. ~ Waylon

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Having read the accusations, I very much respect the Elephant response. Kudos! ~ Jeannie

    My reply: while I do speak for elephant sometimes, elephant is far larger than me, thankfully. So the above is mostly offered as my personal response, not elephant's. ~ Waylon

  14. elephantjournal says:

    I agree 100%. Thank you for leading with your heart.

    Rachel B

  15. roseanne says:

    great response and thanks for sharing. a nice display of integrity.

  16. Andréa Balt says:

    This is what mindful media looks like & I'm happy to be a part of it.

  17. dan says:

    there seems to be a new "controversy" every week ♥

  18. I'm proud to be an Elephant writer today.

  19. karlsaliter says:

    Has anyone seen my glasses?

  20. Kim says:

    I love you, Karl. xx

  21. […] For those of you who do not know what I am talking about an anonymous website has been constructed to seek and destroy an anonymous person and those closest to this person who will no doubt be collateral damage. The material was vulgar yet has snaked it’s way, shamefully, through our community, the specifics of which are not important because the issue at hand here for me was they way it was dealt with. A Statement From Waylon: […]

  22. elephantjournal says:

    Amy Poff I'm glad Ele acknowledged the situation, and I respect and appreciate your editorial stance on it. There are some important conversations that can – and are already beginning to – come out of this, but the sensationalist approach taken by some does not serve anyone.

    And "Relax your curiosity" is my new favorite phrase. Thanks, Waylon!

  23. elephantjournal says:

    I think I saw them in the 1890s…

  24. To me the biggest issue here is not whether any accusations are accurate, but how they came out and how we respond. I'm proud to be part of a team that is responding in the middle way–no suppression, no exploitation–just compassionate mindfulness.

  25. willow joines says:

    Bravo Waylon.

  26. Rob Thomas says:

    I’m not sure whIch to pay attention to; this or the political shenanagains out there. Great drama, thanks.

  27. Think about it.... says:

    If one wishes not to acknowledge the drama, it might work better to not acknowledge it. Writing about it without linking the offending article just makes people that much more ravenous for the controversy, and it's all too easy to find.

    I feel elephant journal is being pretentious: one publication lording itself over another publication and saying that they have better values while doing the exact same thing the first publication did. 

  28. elephantjournal says:

    Well, she just took second potshot at us today. Here's my response, which hopefully will heal things somewhat. Long day, tough day for all involved in this.

  29. elephantjournal says:

    We're not doing the exact same thing. We're commenting about, as you put it, our ravenous hunger for gossip. At this point, that's all it is…gossip and rumors which will hurt all involved. When it enters the realm of fact, we will comment—we are not above anything and as I said I respect Yogadork's decision to report it without waiting for substantiation. I sincerely do, and if I could have done so, so skillfully, we would not have lost the chance to break news, which in our business of aspiring to journalism (if not quite getting there, yet) is what we live and die for. We have up 10s of 1000s of readers on this today. That was not done without checking in with our gut. I just don't want to be involved in hurting any of those involved without more than an anonymous web site's accusations. While much of that site may be true, it is still being presented in a certain way that may inflame, rather than open and then heal.

    Who's to say what their intention is? They're anonymous, for now.

  30. elephantjournal says:

    Politics matter to millions, and need more engagement. Until this one has sources or a public statement, I think we can skip it. Though it does of course raise and involve many important questions and issues.

    But each to his or her own, we have to go with our own integrity on this! ~ Waylon

  31. elephantjournal says:

    "the "gossip / accusations" comment is directed at the site in question, not YD"

    Great question. As for pensions, I agree that's the important question here. Unless Anusara were sued or publicly held, that info is not public and we have no more information, nor does anyone to our knowledge.

    At this point, as I've stated several times, we're waiting for a public statement or any source at all to come forward. And for the 10th time, I respect Yogadork and the "gossip / accusations" comment is directed at the site in question, not YD. We have no paid writers—thus we aspire to journalism, and are content to give up 10s of 1000s of views and let others break the news until we have verifiable sources. Until then, it's my personal decision, which could be right or wrong or some of both, not to assume anything and hurt anyone further in the process. My concern right now is in how and what we're reporting based on what facts or sources.



  32. They're right next to the glass of red I'd rather talk about….

  33. I am sick, absolutely sick to my stomach thinking of how some of the people involved must feel to have their private emails, letters, images, etc. out in the open for all to see, judge, blog or not blog about. I don't write to hurt people. I don't host a radio show to expose people. I am not involved with this community for those things. That website did not make me feel closer to Self. This, is not yoga. But – the challenge here is figuring out how to come back.

    My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those involved.

  34. karlsaliter says:

    Kim you are a rockstar on wheels and you Know it.

  35. karlsaliter says:

    THATS where they are!

  36. karlsaliter says:

    YYou are right, should have checked there first, Braja.

  37. […] Journal made the wise decision to not repost the information but simply acknowledge it, without any links. I am, clearly, falling somewhere in between. Links, ahoy! Along with questions. In the yoga […]

  38. elephantjournal says:

    I will be reporting on the pension issue, yes.

  39. laportama says:

    What would BKS Iyengar do? What would Jesus do? What would YOUR teacher do? What would Mick Jagger — no fool — do?

  40. […] only because Indie struggles to stay mindful and free but also because Indie means, first of all, […]

  41. __MikeG__ says:

    I've never met Mr. Friend but personally I am not a fan. That said I believe that Yoga Dork should not have linked to an anonymous web site containing unsupported accusations and that this post is an appropriate response.

    As a programmer I can put together a web site in less than five minutes which accuses Waylon and EJ of promoting Man to Howler Monkey love. If Yoga Dork wrote an article and published the howler monkey link that action would also be wrong.

    Unless one is caught up in the "my God can beat up your God/Goddess" argument there is no reason to care if Mr. Friend is Wiccan or not.

    From what I have read here the only accusations that can currently be proved/disproved are about the pensions. And I also do not care about that. If Mr. Friend at one time did offer pensions in this economic climate then I would question Mr. Friend's judgement as a businessman. There are many options for small business to offer 401K plans and offering a pension would be financial suicide. Backing off a bad decision (offering pensions) would be good for the business.

  42. elephantjournal says:

    We'll be coming out with a report, based on documents, on the pensions shortly. Beyond that, this is all sad and hopefully everyone involved, and we as a community, will use this all as a wake up call to what we're about and the integrity, or lack thereof, in our own lives.

    PS: I've already been accused of some horrible things:

  43. rachael says:

    Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something,
    and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent-Dalai Lama

  44. […] 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, […]

  45. […] few days ago as a certain scandal began to break the Elephant yoga writers were asked not write about the subject or link to any websites reporting on the scandal until more information was uncovered. It seemed […]