It takes two to tango.

Via Hector V. Barrientos-Bullock
on Feb 16, 2012
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In the debate concerning the current Anusara “scandal”, someone stated the following:

“How does one, specifically a male teacher, prevent such an event from happening to them? I mean, this is not the first time we have seen this sort of innappropriate behavior. It’s happened in India, Kripalu, Anusara, in your local town, virtually everywhere. Why is the emphasis on the obvious and not on a code of conduct to prevent this from happening to other teachers and students? A youth leader friend of mine has a “no child alone” policy that prevent him from being in a one on one situation with any teenager, male or female, to prevent false accusations or the ability to act on temptation. Just throwing that out there as an example of how other organizations have addressed similar issues with people in leadership positions.” 

My response, which I feel encompasses more than solely the Anusara community, but human beings as a whole, is the following:

These were adults.

They are old enough, and, one would believe, intelligent enough, to take responsibility for their own actions, and make their own decisions…….

Though, I feel I should say that there is one thing that has been not addressed, and that is that JF is not solely at fault. Those women, most specifically the married ones, the ones that took a vow to honor and elected to disregard it in “finding their truth”, are even more at fault than he is.

Yes, he may have slept with other men’s wives, but they knew they were beholden to their vows, and instead elected to practice the exact opposite of Satya by having carnal relations with JF.

In the end, he took an opportunity when it was available to him, but they need to stop transferring blame and responsibility of their own self deception upon him.

I feel it is easy to make JF a pariah, to take the burden off themselves.

This is ANOTHER problem within the yoga community.

Therefore, the real issue, though it may never be known, may be that there is a shunning of personal responsibility, a self-delusion among the supposed “victims”, that they are not at fault for their own decisions.

There was a recent study that stated that women, by frequency, cheated more often than men, and with more partners than men, as well.

The real controversy, may it seem, is the shame these people are feeling for being “found out”?

The truth is that, as I said, though he is at fault, so are those that took him up on his “offer”.

I see this as an abuse of power, yes, but also a passing of the buck.

Very un-satya. Very indeed.

I am saying this because, it seems, all want to still lay all blame upon JF, but unless he violated them against their will, it, quite literally, takes two to tango.


About Hector V. Barrientos-Bullock

Hector Barrientos-Bullock began his foray into Buddhism, Taoism, and Brahman(ism) at the age of 16 after reading revelations and realizing fear was not what he felt a religion should be based upon. He joined the US Navy JUST so he could go to Japan and fulfilled that wish on his first tour, allowing him to visit Buddhist temples in Hong Kong, Kamakura, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. He works as a government contract accountant (sporadically) with plans to travel the world in the next year or two. He’s a “Burner”, a novice poi spinner and hoop dancer, has a passion for Jaguars, MINIs. British Motorcycles, learning languages to communicate with more people, and is constantly told he is an amazing dancer (so it must be true.) He continues self study in Buddhism, mostly living the Dharma rather than misunderstood dogma, and his two cats think he is the biggest cat they have ever seen.


19 Responses to “It takes two to tango.”

  1. patrick says:

    The fault of one does not excuse the fault of the other but, in the other hand, John Friend was in a position of authority. So it makes him more at fault because the women may have not the choice if she wanted to keep their position in the organization.

  2. West says:

    “Two to Tango?” Agreed but with an asterisk*. Had these been 2 adults with no Professional or Student/Teacher Relationship, then all bets are off. However, when you consider he was their boss and/or teacher then the party holding “authority” is primarily at fault. An example you could relate to would be from your experience in the Navy. Officer/Enlisted Relationships are strickly forbidden precisely because of the two parties are not on equal footing. It all comes down to “power”. John Friend held all the power in each of these relationships and wielded that power to satisfy his personal and sexual desires. His behavior is very similar to the behavior of a “Sexual Predator”.

  3. Dennis Hauswirth says:

    Yogananda used to say, that practicing Celibacy was not unlike wearing woolen underwear, it always itches. I have seen the use, and abuse of power, it gets boring after a while, if you have no other interests. In John Friends case…..was he married? Is this the strangest story ever?……..We become more powerful, and humble at the same time, after a long cumulative yoga practice. Men want to get layed, I*m sure women do as well. Perhaps their marriage had cooled off to the point where they were also looking for Heat and Passion, which is a natural by product of a strong yoga practice. In this latest version of Yoga Wars, who are we kidding…..nothing new here. As far as business is concerned…..Share the wealth John. How much do you need?

  4. Harleigh Quinn says:

    One always has a choice. That is what sexual harassment laws are for.
    Unfortunately I will have to disagree with that sentiment.

  5. Harleigh Quinn says:

    Also, per my experience in the Navy, I am aware that is not strictly adhered to.
    Also, again, per my experience in the Navy, there are sexual harassment guidelines equally as strict as those within any private organization.
    The reality, as I said above, is there is always a choice, even more so when one can have a legal protection.
    If nothing else, with more than one party having been approached by him, there would have been a more difficult defense for him.
    Therefore, I cannot allow excuse for the parties that allowed, chose, whichever, to engage with him in acts that were obviously against the yamas and niyamas.

    That is the other issue I have: the fact that in the westernization of eastern beliefs, they are utilized as an excuse structure to preclude self accountability.

    The above proposed scenario is an apt example of just that type of utilization.

  6. West says:

    Choice? Interesting concept in life but not applicable in Professional or Teacher/Student Relationships. From the SKYPE Transcripts it was apparent John Friend made it clear his intentions to destroy those who seeked to make this public. One can extrapolate the relationships with these women came down to “you do what I tell you to do or I will destroy you”. Do you still believe they had a choice?

    As for Self Accountability, absolutly those parties should take a serious look at the decisions they made or didn’t make. But it continues to come back to the same question. Was John Friend in a position of power? Did he use that position of power to obtain sexual relations?

    As for Eastern versus Western Beliefs, this would not apply as both parties are of similar beliefs.

    I believe I understand your feelings though.

  7. Sarah says:

    this is no Roman Polanski or Bill Clinton case … this is "I am robbing you blind while preaching about spirituality " – do not partially address what is a big and complex issue here ! The author has skipped many serious financial accusations and is sticking to one that is very debatable – it is easy to defend JF on that one.

  8. elise says:

    It does take two to tango. I personally believe that one should not participate in nor condone cheating. Either one is just as bad. "I ain't about that messing with no other man's women, because of jealousy then a man go under" -Common

  9. pranalisa says:

    Sure, the women had choices…the bigger issue is that John used his authority to manipulate. He found women who were already vulnerable. He abused his position of authority and broke the very ethical laws of his own making as well as the many basic tenants of yamas and niyamas. To hold him accountable in no way negates the roles of the willing participants.

  10. Emily Perry says:

    Really? Come on…

  11. From what I understand, per the accountants (my profession) those allegations were unfounded.
    I will go back to research if more allegations that were true and viable were verified in that sense.

  12. Precisely, and thank you for the rationality. 🙂

  13. maurice says:

    This is a classic illustration of "abuse of power" and less about a few instances of "personal misconduct".

    Anyone in a position of authority like this must be held to a higher standard. Whether it be a employer/employee or teacher/student relationship, there is an unequal balance of power in play to begin with. JF is a leader of a movement who insists upon a high ethical standard of behavior and total devotion to his beliefs. He is not open to personal or professional criticism and clearly unable to live within his own standards.

    It must be personally devastating to admit to being betrayed duped by your spiritual leader. My heart goes out to all of them. This is exactly what has happened. No reason to "sugar coat" the story.

    The original scandal is clearly only the tip of the iceberg. As more allegations come to light, an insatiable appetite for full transparency and disclosure of JF's personal conduct and Anusara Inc. now exists. In my opinion it is well deserved.

  14. Guy Leisure says:

    Nice one, that's the way it looks from here as well.

  15. Joe Sparks says:

    How could he not think this was inappropriate behavior? Why didn't he talk to someone and ask if this makes sense to do? My guess is, he like most men and women have lots of distress and confusion around sex. Anyone who was close to him would of told him what he was doing was not healing, but as we get closer to people the tendency to act out these patterns will arise, trying to fill a frozen need. Look at are culture, sexual abuse is rampant! He like everyone who has grown up in this culture, carries these distresses. They knew better, but the pull was so strong to act out these feelings. The illusion is it will get you closer and be more human, it dosen't look like it worked very well. It has created more confusion, fear and disappointment. No one is to blame, we all carry these distresses, but we are responsible to not act out these patterns. Let the healing begin.

  16. Harleigh Quinn says:

    I agree, however, as with any program of healing, admission is the first step to resolution.
    It seems admission is something a lot of people, those in yoga/buddhism/spirituality, attempt to avoid.
    There can be no moving forward if one does not first face their shadow……

  17. Harleigh Quinn says:

    There is always a choice. it is whether one elects to take it that is at issue.
    It was very applicable here.
    If this were a "plot" by the single women in the organization to oust him due to his abuses of them, fine. (It would, I hate to admit saying, be nice if that were the case….) That is human nature. I do not know this, I only can provide conjecture.
    And even so, those that were married and still accepted his "terms"? What of them? They didn't have a choice?
    No, everyone has a choice, even if the outcome is not favorable.

    As for eastern versus western, if both parties have a "perverted" view of the same exact beliefs, that would very much apply.

  18. Joe Sparks says:

    I agree! What a powerful healing opportunity for JF and his "kula". Instead of going in hiding, how about facing all the people in his community that he hurt. It might take awhile, and would have to be set up where people felt free to say what they wanted to say. He gets to notice and listen to the hurt he has done and gets a chance to apologise. He must be carrying tons of shame and humilation. My guess most of his community would forgive him for his behaviors. It would be a shame to lose him, he has made a huge difference in many people's lives, and he could show what a huge difference they have made in his life.
    We all need physical contact with other humans beings in a regular and continuing way. This has been confused by our culture with sexual or erotic activity and feelings. Certainly the two can occur together, but they are completely separate phenomena. JF and us can learn and heal from this situation, because we all carry this hurt growing up in this culture.

  19. It seems more has finally come out concerning the financial implications (though it seems they did not have the opportunity to be implemented) as well as the root issue, which was his narcissism and the "sex therapy":