My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations.

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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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anonymous Jan 14, 2014 8:05pm

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

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

anonymous May 4, 2013 8:41am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Dec 3, 2012 3:19pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Sep 12, 2012 12:17pm

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

anonymous Jun 3, 2012 4:57am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous May 29, 2012 7:35am

[…] 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… […]

anonymous May 19, 2012 8:05am

[…] Flash forward a year later. […]

anonymous May 10, 2012 7:11pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous May 7, 2012 9:02pm

[…] 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. […]

anonymous May 7, 2012 5:28pm

[…] 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) […]

anonymous Apr 29, 2012 12:26pm

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

anonymous Apr 16, 2012 4:16pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Mar 26, 2012 3:44am

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.

anonymous Mar 25, 2012 5:00pm

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.

anonymous Mar 22, 2012 3:16am

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.

anonymous Mar 20, 2012 1:10pm

[…] […]

anonymous Mar 20, 2012 5:26am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Mar 17, 2012 9:41pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Mar 15, 2012 1:16pm

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

anonymous Mar 8, 2012 7:35am

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.

anonymous Mar 8, 2012 7:11am

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/)

anonymous Mar 5, 2012 6:00pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Feb 28, 2012 11:30am

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…

anonymous Feb 28, 2012 9:21am

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

anonymous Feb 27, 2012 11:37pm

[…] 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) […]

anonymous Feb 27, 2012 4:33pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Feb 26, 2012 8:21pm

[…] 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. […]

anonymous Feb 26, 2012 10:10am

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

anonymous Feb 26, 2012 9:10am

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.

anonymous Feb 25, 2012 9:52am

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

anonymous Feb 24, 2012 3:28pm

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

anonymous Feb 24, 2012 6:46am

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.

anonymous Feb 23, 2012 3:19pm

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 21, 2012 2:56pm

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.

anonymous Feb 20, 2012 5:51pm

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

anonymous Feb 20, 2012 5:43pm

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!

anonymous Feb 20, 2012 2:58pm

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.

anonymous Feb 20, 2012 8:35am

[…] 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😉 […]

anonymous Feb 19, 2012 11:43am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Feb 19, 2012 7:10am

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.

anonymous Feb 18, 2012 10:47am

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.

    anonymous Feb 19, 2012 12:22pm

    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.

      anonymous Mar 17, 2012 9:43pm

      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.

    anonymous Mar 17, 2012 9:44pm

    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.

anonymous Feb 18, 2012 12:37am

I was always disturbed by the cult like quality of this organization. Many of the teachers I have come to know, I admire greatly, and feel for them for being betrayed. During the JF events I attended, I experienced my fair share of glassy eyed blind followers who fed his ego. I found it disgusting as I felt John was allowing himself to be put on a pedestal. I admire teachers and leaders who are more down to earth and come across as normal human beings. Maybe John started out that way but he certainly didn't end that way.

My advice is to abandon the messenger not the message. This movement is not about a person. John needs to abandon the sense of ownership over his teachers and allow them to teach more independently. Anusara can recover from this but only if it assumes a faceless leader. Anusara INC needs to be dissolved.

anonymous Feb 17, 2012 4:41pm

These things DO happen all the time in spiritual communities, and it is a sad reminder that people are people no matter what line or work or group they pretend to ascribe to. There are good and bad doctors, teachers, lawyers, astrologers, etc… However, I find this type of behavior in the spiritual guise especially upsetting as there are genuine spiritual gurus out there and people like John Friend give a bad rap to what is perhaps one of the most important relationships a soul can have.
While there is a lot of anti-guru or "inner" guru talk in the West, the fact of the matter is it is EXTREMELY difficult to dissolve your ego without someone to keep you in check from all the pitfalls. Sure it is possible in souls like Ramana Maharishi, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we will reach enlightenment by sitting on our mat and listening to our constant chatter. The amount of karma and our capacity for deception is enormous. John Friend is a good example of a need for such a true spiritual guide, as well as taking caution in who we choose to be ours. I highly recommend " Holy Madness" by Georg Fuerstein for an account of crazy wisdom gurus as well as the importance of a Sat Guru and how to gauge a real teacher from a mundane one.

anonymous Feb 17, 2012 10:00am

[…] entire controversy, with links to all of her coverage from Day 1 to the present.—On Feb. 8, 2012, John Friend responds to the accusations against him in an interview with Elephant Journal editor Waylon Jennings.—Blisstree posts an […]

anonymous Feb 17, 2012 3:00am

[…] nettet. Denne siden ble raskt lagt ned, men skaden var gjort, og John Friend ga et intervju med The Elephant Journal der han gjorde rede for sannhetsgehalten i de ulike anklagene. Anklagene gikk i all hovedsak ut […]

anonymous Feb 16, 2012 4:51pm

A guru is someone who has defeated the six internal enemies of kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya. http://veda.wikidot.com/arishadvarga. It looks like John Friend couldn't.

anonymous Feb 16, 2012 12:42am

[…] hasn’t been easy for me to see the Anusara community changing so rapidly. It was really hard for me to see Noah Maze and many other beautiful teachers […]

anonymous Feb 15, 2012 7:25am

[…] below] letter and further context into what’s been going on and where we’re going [re: John Friend and Anusara […]

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 11:03pm

[…] those new to this situation, we’re talking about this past week’s allegations concerning John Friend and Anusara […]

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 6:05pm

John, you will always have friends at home who welcome you back, just watch your back. sandybeach

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 10:54am

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 7:48am

I see nothing wrong in standing up and saying hey i think this is wrong.

I'm angry not just because of this set of infractions, but because its indicative of the hypocritical mess that yoga has become.

People preach peace and love using double speak while the trample each other over in real life. John has just done what i've seem happening everywhere for years, in spades.

It's time for an outcry.

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 1:10am

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 8:54pm

I feel sad just because I liked John Friend. He was arrogant and kinda gross/flirtatious but he also brought humor and warmth.

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 3:53pm

It may be the case that there is someone who consistently manifests the Guru-principle for you, and if that is so, there is the temptation to regard that person as “my teacher,” a static role. As soon as this happens, you are listening less to the inner knower. Even if someone has manifested the Guru-principle for you a hundred thousand times, in the next moment they may not. They may be just as confused as you are. Even if someone has never manifested the Guru-principle for you, in the next moment they may do so. They may be just as wise as you are. The governing principle, again, is your inner sense of what’s true

Lack of awareness of this truth causes teachers to be put on pedestals, and students to be disempowered. Then, inevitably, the teacher “falls.” In fact this fall is not real, because the pedestal was never real. If you do see things in terms of a “fall,” you may close down to the possibility of receiving the Guru-principle from one who you have now decided is wrong, or bad, or fake, or “out of alignment.” Just as there is no such thing as someone who is always manifesting the Guru-principle, there is no such thing as someone who is generally out of alignment.

My question is: Who in this Reality is without wrongdoings and so believes him/herselves to be able to Pass Judgement

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brothers eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is the log in your own eye?

So the point of Jesus words about judging are to show us how the anger of judgmentalism can be broken. It is broken by a broken heart.
This awareness turns angry judgment into patient and loving forbearance and delicate correction. Legitimate anger may remain because we are displeased that eye-specks bedevil people we love. But that anger is not the anger of judgmentalism. Good anger is governed by the experience of mercy.

Namaste

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 12:57pm

First, Way, Kudos to you for taking on this interview. I liked your line of questioning, but I agree with some of the comments that you were a bit soft on him….as if you were giving him a path to absolve himself before he fully admitted his wrongdoing. His response, "I am so deeply sorry for any harm that my actions have caused anyone," doesn't really admit to having caused harm. His responses reveal his experiences as ones that are informing his spiritual growth. He is more concerned with his evolution than the havoc he's caused. I think you could have followed up on his responses and dug deeper into him, rather than being so concerned about the legal limitations of his potential answers.
I know the pitfalls of worshipping a guru very well from my years with a tantric/kundalini teacher. I was very young (21) and naive and gave her all of my power. I worshipped her as goddess and experienced the most transcendant, blissful states I'd ever experienced having sex with her in my life. However, for many years she psychologically manipulated me – I was addicted to her light, her shakti, and wanted her like a drug. She painted me as the dark soul, the one who needed to resolve his karma through her teachings. After 12 years I finally broke the spell, and found myself.
I like John Friend, I've met him and took a class from him years ago. Being a famous yoga teacher is no different than being an elite athlete or a politician. When I taught yoga in the 90s, I had mostly female students. I loved teaching but also blurred the boundaries between my spiritual and sexual energy….when I saw some of them begin to worship me or fall in love with me, I quit teaching, afraid I'd fall into the obvious trap. All JF can do now is fully reveal the truth, and hopefully show true remorse – I did not sense that in his answers in the interview.

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 12:05pm

[…] most Wiccan circles, as you know.”In the wake of the accusations exploding into public view, Friend conducted an interview with Elephant Journal, and in it he admitted to having sexual relationships with students, including married students, […]

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 11:39am

Ha Ha Ha. Religion yoga, this is why we have it all, because we are human beings, life is messy, you are in control of your life, it's a big stick to carry when you can really get it, life doesn't happen to you. There is great pain in living — find your path, breathe, go slow. Simple – a chair has integrity, take a leg a way it will fall down. Self destruction, suffering, hurt, drugs, sex, love. : ) there is no where to get too, slow down. No one is doing anything to you. You walk your path. Sex Jealousy Rivalry. It's all so hard. Be gentle with your self as if you are an infant. See many women some men in such exasperated pain over sex confused with love. Catatonic.

The bath water running between your legs will provide you with power. Oh Life.

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 10:12am

"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."….Seriously! JF just now "sees" his faults because of the Internet.?.? Sorry, but that sounds so stupid and weak.

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 1:53am

[…] My interview with John Friend […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 10:04pm

Though I don't follow this style but I question those who do and all of a sudden…ooop..the guy is questionable..not gonna follow his way…its almost like religion..hmmm…it was interesting till this part came along..so um..not so much any more…

Everybody wants things for free. So enough with the not taking accountability on being pretentious. Business is business when you have yours, you make a choice and not all the time will be spoiled for you.

As far as sex with women and the sadness of them having kids…um… WTH shame on these women. Seriously they are married with kids…this isn't an EAT PRAY LOVE moment.

Did someone cry about Pot…? Seriously? Pot is like smoking a cigars now…get over it. How is that something bad?

To me, it doesn't matter who we learn yoga from its what we do with it, you have been given more than enough tools to keep going yourself without a teacher. I mean the teacher you keep avoiding is yourself. Christians are saying now…oooh one for the team…smg

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 8:36pm

[…] I think the Anusara Situation with Mr. Friend would qualify as a heated situation. I have read Waylon Lewis’s interview with Mr. Friend as well as the veritable cornucopia of comments that followed. It’s a lot to go through, but if […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 8:26pm

I am an international journalist and a yoga student of approx 18 years. The questions asked were long, drawn out, and bogus. The answers were ridiculous. This guy used his position, fame, and charisma to get laid. So what else is new? What is all the fuss about? Why all the hiding and drama in the yoga community? Isn't this part of the allure? Is the yoga community so sacrosanct that these things cannot be openly aired?? Stop treating the guy with kid gloves. Either his behavior is acceptable – as a leader in the yoga community – or it isn't.

    anonymous Mar 17, 2012 9:45pm

    "why all the hiding"…says "international journalist" going under "anonymous name."

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 6:48pm

[…] below wet-ink conversation with Bernadette Birney concerns “the John Friend / Anusara yoga situation.” Bernadette is an Anusara yoga teacher, and announced her resignation just today. Her letter, and (a […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 3:38pm

[…] Absicht geschehen, sondern schlicht ein Fehler verwaltungstechnischer Natur. In einem Interview mit http://www.elephantjournal.com vom 8. Februar unterstrich Friend, wie leid ihm die ganze Angelegenheit tut: „Das Wichtigste, was […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 11:55am

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 11:55am

Thanks for a great article. While I see the purpose of seeking to hold such a powerful public figure responsible for the misuse of power and position, and I think that's INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to address, I don't see the point in demonizing things like his sexual behavior and consensual relationships, however 'non-traditional.' I'm grateful that this article doesn't take that route, but it took me so long to find the root of the information passed the gossip and judgment when I first heard about this.

Really, I don't see nearly enough criticism of the Anusara yoga as a Capitalist force, period, and I feel like that fuels so much of the power and position that John Friend has in this yoga culture in the first place. Do I wish that my yoga teachers and anyone who dedicates themselves to a craft and profession be able to make a comfortable living off of what they do? Absolutely! But one of the things that turns me off about Anusara so much is the financial elitism inherent in its structure, which seems so contrary to the roots of a spiritual mystic practice.

I have been studying Anusara for four+ years, have an 11 year long yoga practice, and am certified in Hatha yoga at the 200 hour level. What drew me to Anusara was the challenge and safety of an anatomical practice, and really, finding a local teacher with whom I could relate. Despite the recent mess, I will remain a student to my teacher and the anatomical practice. But I have seen so much sheep-herding and group mentality take-over in the Anusara community, especially around the issue of finances and money-making. I have seen accomplished, successful teachers engage in side-business legal-loophole pyramid schemes disguised as environmental action/naturopathic healing and host recruiting parties for the local community. I have seen those who are critical cast out and ignored.

The amount of money and investment it takes to participate in immersions and teacher trainings is also a HUGE turn-off. There is no place for formal study for those of us whose income hang close to the poverty line, who can only afford to attend a class weekly, if lucky, because of a local studio co-op prices and a student discount. Sure they offer 'scholarships' and discounted immersion prices, but those are, too, a luxury. For a community that strives to spread its teachings wide and enhance the spiritual and physical practices of many, it only makes itself accessible for those who can afford it, and it seems to have little awareness of its own position of privilege. This is the biggest hypocrisy of the community and its leadership.

I'm tired of listening to the problems of the rich. Pension plans? Illegal marijuana delivery? Consensual affairs with students and employees? Give me a break. Take responsibility for how this power and position has been created and exploited in the first place, and get over it Anusara, move the hell on. You're obviously missing the point.

Thanks again for a great article!

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:54pm

"when you choose to play follow the leader, you subject yourself to the faults of them, as much as the faults of yourself, your freedom can be discovered not by following the paths of others, but knowing the wisdom in the one your create for yourself"
-Joshua

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:02pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:33pm

[…] the recent news of the Anusara community (regarding John Friend), I am moved to write an article that has been stewing inside me for some […]

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:09pm

I say the interview was done with respect, grace, and neutrality. This is how any good person and journalist would approach the charged topic. Well done Waylon. I am a fan.
As far as John Friend. There are so many aspects of Anusara yoga that have inspired my own practice as well as my classes. I will say that the Anusara community has seemed cult like and starry eyed over John from the start. If yoga is about the union then why has John insisted on drawing such heavy lines to separate his approach from the equally other great styles and approaches of yoga? Branding, money making, exploitation of teachers and students for growth, fame, and let's get real MONEY. Creepy! And what is up with the employees, students that have actually fallen for this have sex with me and you will become more spiritually aligned BS. Come on folks…think for yourselves. This is really what Opening to Grace is really about. It baffles me how gullible we are as humans. Scary really.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 9:30am

Article well done. I must say however that this whole situation… this whole deal… this scandal reeks of non yoga. It is the antithesis of union. It does nothing more than drive people apart.

John Friend is a teacher with a very high profile. That means that he is definitely in a place of power that entails more responsibility. That doesn't mean we should all have access to his life and we DEFINITELY do not have ANY IDEA of all the dynamics of what has lead to his actions, or the actions of the other parties who are involved. The people who are judging this man are doing so through their own eyes… eyes whose sight and perception are filled with their own layers of truth blocking lenses of belief and bias… amongst other things.

The people involved should still have a right to have a life. They are teachers not a elfin television program for everyone to comment on…

There are comments on here such as 'it feels like a good opportunity to practice, all around.' A very very good point. How bout we all practice a little non harming here and leave this be. There are people involved here not just egos.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 7:33am

true, but still, be careful about blaming the victims.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:25am

The Last Word on John Friend…

So a guy starts a business and money rolls in. Only his biz isn’t accounting, or dentistry, or stocks, or construction…it’s teaching.

But not just any ordinary teaching.

It’s teaching phys.ed plus guru-type mystical rap to (mainly) women.

And not just ordinary women, but younger women trying to look their best.

His biz grows, along with his adoring female “student” clientele.

Giving a talk, he sits on stage smiling a genuine smile. And why not!? For looking back at him in rapt attention are (mostly) younger, attractive women enthralled by his alpha-male aura.

His biz model succeeds, he sells franchises, everyone’s happy. Win-win, or so it seems.

Then what happens?

He alienates some key, older (mainly) women followers because they find out…

1) He lusts after attractive women

2) He makes money & wants to keep it

I know NOTHING of this Friend guy. Never followed his story, met him, or care to. He means zero to me as I’ve got my own gig. I also know NO ONE who practices his brand of Yoga.

I am, however, an expert in another brand of Tantra Yoga. So I can say with authority: Very few Tantra-related groups escape organizational-disrupting earthquakes. And almost invariably it’s the guy-guru’s sexual-money lusting that precipitate these seismic events.

Now we’re presented with the spectacle of some of John’s senior (mostly) female teachers leaving for various reasons. Again, I haven’t read their reasons, but I have to ask them: What did you expect?

Young women made Friend’s enterprise succeed. They ARE his bread & butter. Many stayed with him for what-decades?-and became franchise teachers of John’s system. They got older-but many of his spandex-clad new students got younger.

What hetero guy John’s age can resist having young women adore him?

What businessman John’s age can resist consolidating his assets?

I fail to see the problem with lusting after young, attractive women or financial control of one’s franchise.

That said, Friend definitely deserves to lose his status as Yoga master teacher if…

1- He’s married and cheating.

2- He contractually cheated franchisees, or participated in other fiscal improprieties.

3- He used his position of guru-like power to harm, manipulate, or otherwise corrupt or cajole his students, sexually or otherwise.

4- He marketed his “John Friend” persona as an embodiment of ethereal, ungrounded Yoga pretentiousness, as a man above the lure of the flesh and money.

Did John do any one or more of the above? If so, all criticism is warranted.

If not…

Most of Yoga is made up stuff to get us through the crap of life and its denouement.

Add to that the American phys. ed. Yoga-ass appeal, and you’ve got a popular movement. Still, it’s my spiritual path-has been all my life.

Nothing surprises me about Yoga.

John Friend created his brand of Yoga-the Apple of Yoga to existing dull Microsoft Yoga.

He gave it a brandname-Anusara. Neat.

Presumably (I don’t really know) he tweaked existing Yoga systems with his own made-up stuff cloaked in a tapestry of “Tantra” and “love talk” and body shaping and good habits like breathing right, good posture, eating right, etc.

With a salesman’s ego, he started his biz. His customer base began as (I’m guessing) young women.

Fast forward a few decades and John hit not one but TWO lotteries in life: Money and attractive women.

And along the way, irrespective of any possible personal ethical lapses, his system may have helped many people improve their lives.

Of course, such social value doesn’t justify in any way or excuse John if he committed any of the 4 infractions listed above.

If not, he’s just an ordinary, horny older guy with a penchant for fine looking females and living the good life.

Nothing millions of other guys wouldn’t do or lust after themselves in a heartbeat.

So, I reiterate my question to the (mainly) senior female teachers who’ve parted ways from his biz: What were you expecting?

Almost by default, whenever you see a guy who leads a group of women, and especially a guy who has women cavorting about him in spandex, realize one thing: At heart, he is a PLAYER! Always will be, despite whatever spiritual jargon he’s rapping.

John’s playing the guru-game…nothing more, nothing less, and he’s winning handily.

I feel for women who for whatever reasons feel betrayed by John.

The John Friend business story is an object lesson for us all, especially women:

No guy is an angel, saint, or guru! To expect so is delusion.

When a guy stands before you, claiming hidden knowledge, collecting followers, franchising his spiritual system, he’s a player or worse.

Players play YOU-for your time, money, or body.

To those disaffected Anusara women, when you play a player’s game, the #1 Rule of Life applies:

“You get what you pay for.”

    anonymous Feb 12, 2012 9:51pm

    This is THE best comment on the issue I've seen anywhere, by any journalist, yogi, Anusara person, or otherwise.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 7:54pm

[…] and/or students and freezing of pensions of employees (as reported by YogaDork last week). First interview by Elephant Journal, and John Friend’s reported first letter to Anusara teachers. Comments […]

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 5:49pm

To paraphrase Dr. Robert Weiss. "Why do some men in powerful positions often live out a double life one public and one private that involves impulsive an compulsive sexual behavior. The source of sex addiction is often a lack of connection, genuine intimacy, and emotional support. People who compulsively seek out intensely pleasurable experiences are attending to their emotional needs in unhealthy ways. People in powerful positions often don’t make it a priority to care for themselves emotionally, and may start looking for a “quick fix.” Prominent celebrities and politicians who are often surrounded by fans, media figures, and paparazzi have fewer opportunities to connect with people in authentic and fulfilling ways, which can result in reckless behavior. In addition, people in powerful positions are often shielded from consequences. People with money, power, and fame often have poor feedback networks. They are surrounded by people who are dependent on them for employment or security, which makes them reluctant to tell their ‘boss’ that they need to seek help. Public figures often exhibit warning signs of a serious problem for years but fail to see them clearly because the consequences are minimized for political/financial reasons."

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 5:25pm

[…] now it appears that Anusara has grown beyond his reckoning—and hopefully beyond any damage his personal choices could do to this immensely transformative and empowering school of […]

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 4:34pm

Breaking update: Anusara restructured, remaining senior teachers meet with JF. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/letter-gro

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 3:36pm

Here is my take on John and the issue of Goodness.
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/on-knowing

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:59pm

None of this has anything to do with yoga.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:31pm

I am someone that posted several comments that were critical of this interview. All of my comments were removed. GReat journalistic integrity!

    anonymous Feb 10, 2012 4:43pm

    Jimmy…Gleacher? Two of your articles went up, btw.

    As for comments, I haven't removed any lately…if Kate did, I've instructed / asked her only to remove personal attacks. We're find with criticism of John or whatever anyone thinks, we're here for dialogue, just keep it respectful/constructive. It's possible to be mad and critical and constructive and thoughtful all at once!

    Feel free to email me waylon at elephantjournal.com and I'll find your comments and we'll put them back up if they pass our comment policy. ~ Waylon

      Kate Bartolotta Feb 10, 2012 5:03pm

      And I just checked–didn't pull any comments by this user. The only comments I deleted were personal attacks and one that named a specific female teacher as having appeared on the Jfexposed website. There are actually I ton I left up that probably don't truly pass our comment standards, but I know this is a heated, emotional issue for all involved so I cut a little slack.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:03pm

In case someone hasn't put this up here already:

"Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live." (Pema Chödrön)

    Kate Bartolotta Feb 10, 2012 6:29pm

    Yes! Thanks for sharing this!

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 11:17am

[…] http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/my-interview-with-john-friend-regarding-ijfexposedi-accusatio… Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({appId: "", xfbml: true}); FB.Event.subscribe('comment.create', function(response) { }); }; (function() { var e = document.createElement('script'); e.async = true; e.src = document.location.protocol + '//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js'; document.getElementById('fb-root').appendChild(e); }()); […]

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 7:58am

Thanks, Waylon, for being an ethical journalist. You didn't need to be nasty to Friend, he does a fine job of appearing nasty on his own. Ick!

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 7:22am

[…] Yoga drama all over the place. […]

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 5:08am

There are many traditions of yoga. I have two daughters. After all of this, my main question is, would I ever recommend to them Anusara as the way they should learn about kindness and ethics and yoga?

    anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:12pm

    Your amazing wife touts Ashtanga, yes? Is Pattabhi Jois free of such accusations? No. My point is…don't we all make mistakes? Isn't it about how we learn from those mistakes that counts? While John's answers may have been less forthcoming than folks like, given the anger in this section, the downvoting and upvoting…I don't see that making mistakes disqualifies anyone from wisdom.

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 3:05pm

      As many others have pointed out here already, when John Friend's behavior is described merely as a "mistake" it communicates approval and even sounds like there should be acceptance of unacceptable behavior. According to what we know so far, John Friend's behavior was not ethical on many levels; it affected many people in different areas of his business and practice; it was ongoing; and it was intentional — not an accident — not a (singular) "mistake" — and not acceptable.

        anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:56am

        I said that it wasn't ethical in my questions. Nothing about "mistake" means, "oh, no biggie!" to me.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 4:59am

If the Anusara community wants to send a message, they would return their teacher and workshop certificates back to Texas

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:31am

As dependable as the sun rises and sets, humans will forever be imperfect.

The moment you latched on to somebody(in this case JF) and held them up on that pedestal, is the exact same moment you failed to see the truth. People are perfectly imperfect. Guru is teacher, not god. What did you learn from teacher.

What is clear by reading these posts, is that 9 out of 10 yogis are so easily sucked into the hype. whether it be a car or an hair removal product, a yoga teacher or the latest yoga fashion.

REAL yoga, and by that I mean the old masters, teach us that a yogi is SELF-realized. A teacher is a guide but it is up to us to find and see our own light.

Krishnamurti requested to dissolve and then dismantled the organization called the Theosophical Society because they could no longer think for themselves and he recognized this. They held him up high as their leader and he saw the truth.

Too bad most yogis in the west would rather mindlessly applaud each other. Of course its good to give encouragement but at what price does soul pay for the sake of the ego. Remember? The ego.

Good luck on your yogic journey's, Let go of your ego. Clear your thoughts of dis-ease and clutter.

citta vritti nirodha.

    anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:13pm

    This. No excuses, no blame, total responsibility. Email me? waylon at elephantjournal.com

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:51pm

Maybe senior teaches left because they didn't want to pay 10 percent of their earnings to John-that is what he recently purposed a must for teachers. Why should they pay him? Teachers are popular because they are great teachers not only because they teach Aunsara, which by the way is hatha, yoga how it's been taught for years with just a newer twist on language.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:30pm

I say: "John, pass the leadership of your "business, corporation, kula" whatever you call it, over to several of your most trusted followees while you go take a time out somewhere…in an ashram or in re-hab. Allow those who were affected/afflicted by your actions and who are invested deeply in Anusara , to do their level best in getting this ship off the reef and turned around heading for the open seas again. You owe that much to them. No way can you take back what was done but you CAN do your level best now to practice making ammends." Many blessings on your way…holding you in the highest visions of the light.

Loka samasta sukino bavantu

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:52pm

Rick O'Connell His expression of compassion for his accusers alone tells much about the spirit of this man… Time to get back on the mat…

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:09pm

    i am not sure i agree.

    i think perhaps that this is a slick piece of media management designed to make him seem like the noble victim… honestly his responses read like the canned official statement of a politician.

    "compassion for his accusers?" how kind of him!

    rings very hollow, ironic and a tad grandiose to my ears, i'm afraid.

    let's not forget that had the accusers not done what they did none of this conversation would even be happening and he would probably still be doing exactly what they exposed.

    what shows the "spirit of this man" is a little more to do with what is at the heart of the controversy, not what his team of advisors are trying to spin it toward.

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:17pm

      I'm just passing along the comments, good or bad, happy or sad. The truth would have come out, anyways, it always does–and it would have come out soon, given the departure of four teachers over the last few months. It didn't need to come out in an agenda-backed porn-sharing hate site. That's not the only way to crack an egg.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:13pm

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of this situation is the opportunity for people to stop glamorizing individual people and practices. I see way too much reverence for yoga teachers who create an industry around themselves and the yoga techniques they "discovered" or "downloaded through direct transmission". It is sad when people cannot find worth in the practices and require a guru or charismatic leader to empower them.

    anonymous Feb 10, 2012 5:25am

    Agreed–So unnecessary. When anyone can be yoga anywhere. "Be", not just "do".

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:44pm

We are just human beings trying to be yogis.

For the people behind the scenes, we should send collective good energy of healing. The facts are what they are. Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned.

Bikram would say “the darkest place is below the lamp”, “get too close to the fire and you get burnt” Statements that may not heal but bring us back to the truth.

Om shanti…

    anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:18pm

    At the risk of being downvoted, how can anyone downvote this? This comment section has become degraded.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:42pm

Thanks for this interview! It really makes me sick to my stomach to know that Mr. Friend's "Center" is next to Self Realization Fellowship, one of the most spiritual, serene and beautifully pure places in the United States! Sounds like he needs to move in next door and practice Yogananda's teachings for a while to learn about what yoga really is really all about and build up his good karma. Very disappointing.

I wish all those involved love, healing, peace and light. Time for meditation…

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:05pm

    oh goodness let's not get started on yogananda – i think the two are probably in quite good company! 🙂

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:18pm

      Amen. Shine a light, there's plenty of targets. Including ourselves.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:06pm

From Anusara.com Ethical Guidelines:

Overall, the Anusara yogi seeks to glorify Shri—that which is life-enhancing, beautiful, and auspicious.

Classical Ethical Guidelines

Yamas: (Behavior restraints) Ethical guidelines for the yogi pertaining to her relationship with others in society, the outer environment, or Nature. All the yamas apply to actions, words, and thoughts.
Ahimsa (Non-harming): Loving kindness to others, not blocking or obstructing the flow of Nature, compassion, mercy, gentleness, commonly translated as non-violence.

Satya (Truthfulness): Being genuine and authentic to our inner nature, having integrity, honesty, being honorable, not lying, not concealing the truth, not downplaying or exaggerating.

Asteya (Non-stealing): Not taking what is not yours—money, goods, or credit. Not robbing people of their own experiences and freedom. Non-desire for another’s possessions, qualities, or status.

Brahmacharya (Walking or having ethical conduct like God): Relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation. Practicing sexual moderation, restraining from sexual misconduct, and avoiding lustful behavior. Includes sexual chastity.

Aparigraha (Non-clinging): Non-grasping, non-receiving, non-possessiveness, non-covetousness, voluntary simplicity, not accumulating things beyond what is necessary, non-attachment to possessions, greedlessness.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:55pm

John Friend sounds more like a politician than a Yoga spiritual leader.. He has charisma, technique, semantic mastery of the language and lives a life inconsistent with the needs of people.

    anonymous Apr 14, 2012 7:15pm

    In general, what do you think is to live a life inconsistent with the needs of people?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:16pm

Fascinating how much attention and compassion is being heaped on John. Why is it “malicious" to air unflattering information? Terms like "agenda-driven" are surprising. Can we widen our awareness to consider the pain that other people may have experienced? We probably will never know the actual facts of these situations. This is not a legal trial. Personally I feel enormous compassion for the people who came forward, anonymously or not, politely or not. (I did not see the "JFexposed" site, so can't comment on the details.) Apparently someone had to blow the whistle and point out the shadows in the Anusara community. Very loudly.

A loud wake-up call not just for John. For all of us. A call for reflection and perhaps a catalyst for change. How strong is our connection with our inner teacher? Where are we giving away our powers of discernment and choice? As teachers, are we presenting ourselves to the world as more than an asana teacher and sincere student of life? In our own lives, where are we out of alignment with our highest intentions? What is my *own* ethical code and am I living up to it?

Should keep us all busy for awhile 🙂

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:46pm

    I bet JF and Anusara turn it into a legal trial because he hasn't truly learned anything from this experience. In fact, I expect we'll hear about a lawsuit soon.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:15pm

Wow never could have imagined so much Schadenfreude in the yoga community – taking pleasure in someone else misfortune! Mudita anyone???

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:11pm

Why do you think pencils have erasers?

I learned a long time ago that people who meditate, do yoga, etc. make mistakes too. One relationship I had, the person lied and cheated on me for three years and lied about lying. The worst part of it was that even though I tried to swallow my anger and my desire for revenge, I only semi-passed, even though I did not, not, not want to act just like the person who hurt me, I did anyway! But people who keep making the sames mistakes punish themselves with lifetimes of regret, remorse, and guilt, far more and far longer than any act of revenge can dish out.

Furthermore, anyone can say, "I forgive that person for their mistakes." But deep in our hearts is where it counts, not in print and I doubt this accused yoga teacher is that magnanimous to have truly forgiven this attack so quickly. If he had said, "Someday I know I will forgive this person, but right now I feel angry and revengful, it would have given him more credibility. True forgiveness takes time and with a true apology, ammends are in order. All the accused yogi said was that he was sorry and defended himself. And I would not say that he has singlehandedly "ruined" this type of yoga forever. Come on! Yoga is thousands of years old. This man and his mistakes is a drop in the ocean.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:55pm

It is a certainty that truth is at the very root of the practice of yoga and an ethical precept we as yogi’s all strive to comply with however flawed we are as individuals, we still want truth and in this circumstance, its very essence is in great demand. Worse than any reality, is a cloaking of truth and its circumvention, the cloak weighs more heavily on our spirit than does an open forum of uncomfortable conversations revealed. An evangelical response to one’s human frailties being exposed, “drop to your knees and pray with me for my forgiveness”, does not suffice for truth.

If humility is another attribute we seek as part of the path of enlightenment, then this may be one of the greater offenses and one that has been in question regarding persons in positions of power, which may have misunderstood their own claims of following dharma.

This is written from the need for truth and healing, not furthering lies or contributing to gossip, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a day to destroy it.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:37pm

I would just like to state for the record that ej's upstanding handling of this situation has meant the world to me and my community. Thank you.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:36pm

It is a certainty that truth is at the very root of the practice of yoga and an ethical precept we as yogi’s all strive to comply with however flawed we are as individuals, we still want truth and in this circumstance, its very essence is in great demand. Worse than any reality, is a cloaking of truth and its circumvention, the cloak weighs more heavily on our spirit than does an open forum of uncomfortable conversations revealed. An evangelical response to one’s human frailties being exposed, “drop to your knees and pray with me for my forgiveness”, does not suffice for truth.

If humility is another attribute we seek as part of the path of enlightenment, then this may be one of the greater offenses and one that has been in question regarding persons in positions of power, which may have misunderstood their own claims of following dharma.

This is written from the need for truth and healing, not furthering lies or contributing to gossip, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a day to destroy it.
To read my comments in full go to yoga-mandara.blogspot.com

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:34pm

“Human love, human trust, are always perilous, because they break down. The greater the love, the greater the trust, and the greater the peril, the greater the disaster. Because to place absolute trust on another human being is in itself a disaster, both ways, since each human being is a ship that must sail its own course, even if it go in company with another ship…. And yet, love is the greatest thing between human beings.” ― D.H. Lawrence

Thank you Waylon and EJ for providing a balcony from which I could view this issue. When I make no more personal mistakes, I'll be free to criticize the behavior of other grown adults.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:12pm

The yoga guru as player. That's an archetype now, so nobody should be surprised.

Putting the whining of the pinched-faced morality queens aside, John Friend gets props from me for spreading the Mendo love around.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:46pm

[…] 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. […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:37pm

Could John Friend's license be revoked per the Anusara Ethical Grievance procedure?
http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_conte

"Anusara yoga is a professional organization that abides by ethical guidelines. Its certified Anusara yoga teachers and its Anusara-Inspired yoga teachers are licensed to use these trademarked names to promote themselves. If a violation of these ethical guidelines occurs, then there can be revocation or suspension of the teacher’s license."

Because it sounds to me like he violated this part of the Ethical Guidelines:
http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_conte

"Brahmacharya (Walking or having ethical conduct like God): Relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation. Practicing sexual moderation, restraining from sexual misconduct, and avoiding lustful behavior. Includes sexual chastity.

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."

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:40pm

    I recommend that Anusara students who think John Friend may have violated the Anusara ethical guidelines file a grievance per this procedure:

    "All ethical grievances against Anusara yoga teachers should be submitted via email to [email protected] or mailed to: Ethics Committee c/o Anusara, 9400 Grogan’s Mill Rd, #200, The Woodlands, TX 77380."

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:08pm

      Yes, ethics grievances staffed by his own teachers that he appointed. A little bit of a conflict of interest here wouldn't you say?

        anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:08am

        Yes, obviously. Any ethics board worth their salt has a way of navigating such conflicts of interests.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:51pm

As Carol pointed out, he did admit to the affairs for the first time here and he addressed the pension situation. That said, I asked the questions, and that's all I have control over. Thanks, Duff.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:44pm

    Indeed. Thanks for asking the tough questions.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:35pm

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:45pm

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:05pm

It’s all about ethics.

It is not ethical behaviour given his position in relation to employees and students.

He has messed up, and if Anusara truly is bigger than John Friend, then now is the moment to shine.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:03pm

As any psychologist can tell you, there are often times serious and negative emotional consequences to a student, employee or patient for being on the receiving end of an abuse of power like this. This is really a no brainer for those who know a family member, friend or who have been on the receiving end of abuse of power and whose lives have been dramatically and negatively impacted, indeed sometimes for a lifetime.

As a society we have already decided collectively this violation is egregious enough to be a crime in some cultural contexts and in others, a serious ethic violation, and as a result we have created laws to protect the innocence of those who place their trust and their inner child-like innocence in the hands of their teachers, healers and employers to behave and act with the highest intentions.

On an energetic level, spiritual seekers understand the profound archetypal power at work within the context of the teacher-student relationship. This is a relationship that is sacred and where safe learning and inquiry can take place in order to shift and expand consciousness and grow one's inner light. This is true within any context, spiritual or non-spiritual, where the teacher/healer/employer is in the role of showing the student/patient/employee the path. The teacher says, "Trust me, I will show you the way". The student says, "I trust you to reflect back to me my own inner light, in order for me to learn, heal myself, grow in consciousness, or support my family".

This is just the tip of the iceberg and with lawyers and yes-men around, John has a long way to go before he becomes more conscious of the pain and suffering he has spread to so many people.

This dialogue needs to stay in a public forum for all to see so others who have witnessed violations or have been at ground level in this organization can speak up anonymously without loosing their certification, job or future support from the kula.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:21pm

    Agree with every word.- A student of Anusara.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:45pm

Several people have commented that they hope the Anusara teachings are not thrown out with the teacher. I’d like to point out that these teachings have been around for thousands of years and do not belong to Anusara yoga. Anusara is a brand, a brand that was built out of the ego of an unethical, immoral, deceitful person.
I actually think the whole branding thing is a huge part of John’s deceit. Trying to make people think that his brand was better than someone else’s or that the teachings were specific to Anusara. I feel bad for the many teachers and students who bought into this nonsense and gave much time, energy, and money to this very expensive brand, which now has a very tainted image. My hope is that like other brave yogis (Darren Rhodes, Christina Sell, Elena Brower, Amy Ippoliti, and Laura Christensen) people will move away from branding and back to the heart of teaching/studying yoga.
At the beginning of Nicolai Bachman’s translation of The Yoga Sutras he has this quote.
“To Ishvara, the light of all knowledge. May we be grateful for the understanding that occurs from tapping into this knowledge and never for a moment think that we own it.”

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:35pm

    There is nothing wrong with branding. Not in the sense that people should be able to "claim teachings" but rather to create standards for yoga teachers. There's an entirely separate dialogue right now about the government overseeing yoga teachers like it does massage therapists because there are so many instructors that have no clue what they're doing. John created a curriculum to ensure that all of his teachers know what they're doing (like Iyengar). Branding has its own important place in today's society notwithstanding the ancient teachings.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:45pm

Who cares really? What precedent are we holding Friend to? Pattabi Jois was photographed giving vagina adjustments. John Friend is not our representative to congress or a minister. He is a savvy businessman and a good yoga teacher.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:20pm

    As a devoted Anusara yogini, I care. He violated the very code of ethics that he created, the high standards to which he demands all other teachers hold themselves. He thought he was above those standards. This is an abuse of power, and a betrayal of trust of the entire Anusara community.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:26pm

John Friend shows in his replies how all his answers were basically defenses. I don't see him expressing any sorrow from it all. If he is a student of life I don't see him learning.

I had long suspected that Anusara was a market scheme and a authoritarian model. And at the heart of every cult and authoritarian model there is always a John Friend or other creepy power hungry nut.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:55am

Though Friend states he has never called himself a Guru, yet he allegedly teaches tantra and is the face of Anusara, he has in western legal PR style put himself in the position to appear as a Guru…knowing full well the inherent mistrust of westerner's label "Guru". He is not a Guru in my mind. He is nothing more than a businessman who deserves all of the critisism and legal responsibilities a businessman is liable for. He is selling a product and has been successful yet he is not, apparently, an ethical businessman whether it is the sexual allegations or the pension plan still yet to play out. So…in this world of business he will deserve all that he has reaped, good and bad.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:54am

Is it just me, or did he almost entirely dodge all of Way's questions?

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:44pm

    Well, I recommend that Anusara students who think John Friend may have violated the Anusara ethical guidelines file a grievance per this procedure:

    "All ethical grievances against Anusara yoga teachers should be submitted via email to [email protected] or mailed to: Ethics Committee c/o Anusara, 9400 Grogan’s Mill Rd, #200, The Woodlands, TX 77380."

    No teacher is above the ethical guidelines they helped create for their teachers.

    Anusara's ethical guidelines: http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_conte
    Anusara's ethical grievance procedure: http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_conte

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:43am

Anusara Center in Encinitas ?? Here's link to the story, dated 2/06/12, of 2 people who searched for it & could find NO trace of it. The plot thickens. http://bitchinyoga.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/looki….

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:00pm

    In fact the author has no idea why it was deleted.
    Hilary Lindsay
    February 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm
    "Seems Elephant didn’t appreciate it is all I can say.I’m a bit confused myself. I’m hoping they put it back up but thanks for finding me here. All the best, Hilary"

      elephant journal Feb 9, 2012 12:03pm

      I am the one who worked with Hilary on the post in terms of editing. I’m sad to see that that was her response. It is different than the impression she gave in her emails on this issue. ~ Kate

        anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:54pm

        The plot thickens?? Oh great, now the conspiracy theories get going. Gimme a break. You know all the people surrounding this Anusara issue are seriously creeping me out. Friend *and* his attackers. Just give it a rest already.

      anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:04am

      It's up on the site, it's a great read.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:14am

Thanks Waylon for the article and for asking those questions.

    anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:04am

    You're welcome. Thanks for the appreciation–asking critical questions clearly wasn't enough for this mob.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:43am

This from an Anusara teacher’s page. I’ll leave her name out.

enthusiastically joined the Anusara staff in the summer of 2009. Since meeting John Friend in February 2002, she’s been dedicated to serving the vision of Anusara yoga and John in whatever way she’s called upon.

She was someone who was featured prominently in a section on jfexposed.com

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:39am

The first impression of JF that I had was that he always had a lovely groupie's assisting him–a friend who has long time certification told me oh she to this young girl or the next is John's new paramour. It was well known that he exploited and then discarded one for another. As far as I know

    anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:03am

    Judgements from afar = prejudgments. Too easy. Let's stick to what we know–at this point, there's plenty of that.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:35am

What about the shipping pot allegation?

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:45am

    putting others at risk

    not ahimsa

      anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:02am

      Local pot would have been better.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:33am

Its just yoga people, and we are just humans.
Jai ma the the teaching of non JUDGEMENT!

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:48am

    John Friend/Anusara's main draw is the message

    if jfexposed info is true and accurate, then his message is BS, a joke at best

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:28am

Does anyone seriously think that John Friend is the lone ranger engaging in this type of activity? I'm wondering when the shoe will drop on some of the other male rock star yoga gurus.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:44am

    it's a cliche at this point

    Bikram, Yee, Desai…

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:10pm

      You are a mind reader. Seriously, I don't think it's news to anyone who has paid attention to the darker sides of Western rock star yoga. Unchecked power is toxic especially when body,mind, and spirit are involved.

      anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:00am

      Yes to what Chan, said. The shoe has already dropped. And we'll repeat this mistake with every charismatic leader who proves his or herself all too fallible, until we learn from it.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:13am

Just posted to the elephant Love Facebook Page

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anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:05am

The hypocrisy of JF was probably the motivation for JFexposed website. The ethical guidelines for teachers was disregarded. To say it was consensual sex, just says that he didn’t rape them.

On the pension issue, to provide one document and say that’s all there is to it is disingenuous.

JF is an amazing teacher,

now he can teach us about telling the truth and throwing the cloak off.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:46pm

    I'm wondering if the husbands gave consent.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:59am

[…] It is referenced in this interview. […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:58am

here's a point to consider waylon and braja and kate – when i hear the examples of strong women who are able to say no to the inappropriate advances of seductive gurus (waylon you used your mom and trungpa, braja you used yourself and gurus more charismatic and handsome than JF) as a way of saying that the women involved are adults and can make their own decisions are not victims etc – i think there may be something key you are missing:

it is not the strong ones who get victimized in these situations. it is the weak ones, the insecure ones, the ones who came to the spiritual community because they are wounded, don't have good boundaries or healthy self esteem, maybe have a history of abuse or trauma.

it is the ones who get into the inner circle because they make the new community their life, because they buy so deeply into the philosophy and idealize the teacher in a way that is filling early childhood needs.

you may scoff at this last statement but think about it: people who get really involved in the whole guru adoration trip are desperately seeking a parental substitute – not only that these need comes from such an early developmental place that they are seeking a *perfect* new parent who won't let them down – and what better person than someone who appears to be ethical, enlightened, a leader, a teacher of a profound spiritual philosophy that contains the answers about how the universe works, what the purpose of life is and how to live an awakened life?

let's not ignore the important piece here too that there is a god like aura bestowed upon the person who claims to know god. for a lot of these students john friend is their guide to nothing less than knowing god and in so doing fulfilling their deepest spiritual yearning – which (when it is that intense) is very often unconsciously symbolic of a whole lot of other stuff: yearning for mommy or daddy, struggling with the imperfect and painful nature of real life, longing for freedom from suffering etc…

when i did my critique of friend based on his bizarre statements about the japanese tsunami i was reacting to a video interview. i had long seen the far away look in the eyes and heard the reverent tone when anusarites uttered his name – but seeing this student of his in the video asking the great master how it was possible that tsunamis happen given his teachings on the all-good nature of the universe and then listening to his inflated and disconnected pronouncements about earthquakes not being bad, just our response to them causing our own suffering – i was deeply disturbed by the dynamic at play and its psychological implications for how people in this community dealt with reality and what they were projecting onto their leader.

sure – the students do the projecting, but the community provides the space and protocol for this and the leader sets the tone and either plays along with the projections or defuses them either gets real or perpetuates the unstable and delusional fantasy.

i think we might consider that it is perhaps a mistake to separate the teachings from the teacher – my sense is that someone who teaches what he does and sets up a community in which he holds the kind of power and aura that he did usually has these unresolved shadow issues and they usually play out somehow along the predictable lines of sex, money and drugs.

from a psychological perspective, if the women are perhaps in search of an all good daddy to idealize, the guru is unconsciously seeking his own early unmet needs around childhood narcissism: i am so amazing, look at what i can do, applaud me, praise me, tell me i am the best ever, so perfect, so smart, so beautiful, the most important etc…

the problem with a lot of spirituality is that it actually does not address or provide ways of working through these kinds of issues, but instead perpetuates them….. the blunt force tropes about "killing the ego" just don't do it for this kinda stuff and the further one goes into these kinds of light and love spiritual communities without doing serious inner work on your shadow material (grief, rage, fear, trauma, unmet needs etc) the more precarious the situation becomes, especially if the guru is not also doing work on themselves and buys into their own hype as being infallible, or most enlightened or at another level above everyone else – this is usually a big set up for a massive fall from grace. we have seen it again and again but don't seem to learn the lesson.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:59am

    so my main point: it is the weak ones, the vulnerable ones, the ones with trauma, the ones who are trying to work something very deep and unconscious out with their guru who are most susceptible and will put their families and relationships at risk at the behest of the philandering narcissistic guru in the name of sex magick. really it is an old trick: well if you really wanna be enlightened you need to get some of this here special juju in the swamis pants…

    on the one hand, yeah sure they are consenting adults – on the other hand we do well to remember the altered reality that people in a cultish organization (however benign seeming) are living under and the psychological implications of a lot of the dynamics at play. people who get deeply involved in these sorts of dramas are usually unconsciously trying to work out a lot of stuff – spiritual communities would function better if there was more awareness of this and more tools and information to make this stuff conscious.

    check out how jack kornfield has his community set up based on a lot of psychological savvy and research into why cultish dynamics occur and how to keep things healthy….

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:43am

      super wise insights and truths. thanks for sharing!

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:57am

Well done Waylon!! Great interview – total respect!

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anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:27am

This may be anecdotal but supports the idea that John cannot continue to lead when he has implicitly asked so many to maintain standards that he would not uphold himself.

During 1930′s, a young boy had become obsessed with eating sugar. His mother was very upset with this. But no matter how much she scolded him and tried to break his habit, he continued to satisfy his sweet tooth. Totally frustrated, she decided to take her son to see his idol – Mahatma Gandhi; perhaps her son would listen to him.

She walked miles, for hours under scorching sun to finally reach Gandhi’s ashram. There, she shared with Gandhi her predicament. –
“Bapu, my son eats too much sugar. It is not good for his health. Would you please advise him to stop eating it?”

Gandhi listened to the woman carefully, thought for a while and replied,
“Please come back after two weeks. I will talk to your son.”

The woman looked perplexed and wondered why had he not asked the boy to stop eating sugar right away. She took the boy by the hand and went home.

Two weeks later they revisited Gandhi. Gandhi looked directly at the boy and said,
“Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.”

The boy nodded and promised he would not continue this habit any longer. The boy’s mother was puzzled. She turned to Gandhi and asked,
“Bapu, Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?”

Gandhi smiled,
“Mother, two weeks ago I was eating a lot of sugar myself.”

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:48pm

    Gandhi might not be a great example in this situation.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:14am

The first impression of JF that I had was that he always had a lovely groupie's assisting him–a friend who has long time certification told me oh she to this young girl or the next is John's new paramour. It was well known that he exploited and then discarded one for another. As far as I know, no one spoke up and his behavior was just tolerated along with having favorites which were exchanged like buying a new pair of shoes.
JF was deified in the system as powerful and a brilliant marketeer. The interview beyond the validity of the questions seemed like something the suit that JF once was would give- little substance- lots of excuses- and a dearth of details.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:05am

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:58am

“We must all remember that any mis-steps by me do not invalidate any of the greatness of the Anusara yoga method.”

in fact, WE must all be brave enough to abandon a ‘system’ put in place by a narcissistic lying megalomaniac.

these allegations are the tip of an iceberg. the fabric from which the anusara world was made is tainted by ‘yoga teacher’ who behaves like a insecure yet popular 7th grader. the man orchestrates stage lights and standing ovations for dharma talks that are essentially content-less. just this goes against everything that yoga is. it is just another demonstration of a teacher who wants himself to be seen rather than any beautiful source of lineage-rooted teachings, of which anusara is devoid of.

my surprise is how long it took for people to start seeing the contradiction and comedy that is john friend’s empire. anusara is a spoon fed eclectic which inspires people to stop thinking. it is wholly ungrounded in anything real and like all such things will be washed away by the tide of discrimination.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:34pm

    How do you know "these allegations are the tip of the iceberg"?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:55am

This all reminds me of Tiger Woods. Don't worry about John Friend being any sort of force in Anusara Yoga in the future. He's toast. Anusara (like golf) will live on!

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:45pm

    Actually, Yoga, like golf, will live on. The brands and the players come and go, and don't really mean much in the big picture.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:35am

Sometimes we put energy into things that are a waste of time, and at other times we make the right effort to do what really needs to be done right now- which is dharma. Discrimination comes through buddhi, which is the fourteenth tattva. Through buddhi, knowledge and wisdom flow to manas, the mind, which is the sixteenth tattva, and once we are consciously aware of that knowledge we can put it to practical use in this world. Between buddhi, the higher mind, and the manas, the conscious mind, is the fifteenth tattva, Ahamkara – the ego. So with its own conditioning, the ego distorts or filters intuitive insights from buddhi, and passes them on to manas, after it has added its own distinct touch. This is why sadhana consists of purifying the ego- so that instead of appropriating or identifying with all the tattvas below, it will be an open and pure channel for receiving higher knowledge from the tattvas above.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:10am

So what happened to Hilary Lindsay's article, originally posted on your own site, revealing that the much-advertised Anusara facility in Encinitas can't be physically located, and no one there seems to know anything about it? The article has suddenly disappeared.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:00am

Guruji BKS Iyenger said that he had many temptations but he kept away from it, also kripalu founder was demoted for doing what Mr friend did I like Anusara yoga and I hope humility and deep thoughts will not ruin all the good work, power is a very distractive yoga is about non attachment not even to power!!!

    anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:18am

    Yoga, or meditation, is about *practicing* non-attachment. It's not about being perfect. It's about fucking up and learning to come back again and again to the present moment and work to "still the waves of the mind."

    None of that is to say that a spade is not a spade: John Friend fucked up in his relationships. He admitted as much straight up for the first time here. And he now needs to demonstrate that we can further wake up through his actions, not just his words.

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/letter-gro

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:51am

we are all students of life, humans with flaws, and we all make mistakes. yoga is not a religion. why should we expect our teachers to be anything more than human? yoga is accepting where you are, who you are, with an open heart. that includes teachers, students and the entire community. outrage isn't yoga, compassion and the willingness to get up when we fall down. that is yoga. well done waylon.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:16am

There is nothing worse than telling a lie, and that is when you are given the chance to tell the truth and you lie again.

Waylon, great interview. You can only work with what you’ve got. Could you have been tougher? Is that really for me to judge? I don’t think you can take on the responsibility of serving thousands of peoples curiosity, anger, hurt, suffering because of this situation. But, for me (and I can only speak for myself) the truth about this situation is there, loud and clear. The hard part about the truth sometimes, is that we all want to run away from it, when that is the only thing that will liberate us from deceit and manipulation. Thank you for providing that, for me, with this interview.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:39am

    You can only work with what you got. Where is Barbara Walters when you need her?

      anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:15am

      She would have had him crying. That said, from their pov, my questions were too agenda-driven, etc. It's a lose-lose for me. But I'm not here to win popularity contests. And if folks re-read my questions, you'll see I'm not partisan. I like the man and respect him as a teacher. It's clear that he's made ethical mistakes in his relationships that have hurt others and his community and business.

      I personally thought the pension stuff was more serious and worth looking into, but that seems to be way less juicy for folks. ~ Waylon

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:56am

[…] […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:56am

It's abuse of a powerful position and it violates ethics, as Waylon said. Here is the code of conduct from yoga alliance: http://yogaalliance.org/content/policies

Here's a couple of important ones:
Conduct myself in a professional and conscientious manner.
Avoid words and actions that constitute sexual harassment
Create and maintain a safe, clean and comfortable environment for the practice of yoga

His actions are reprehensible. He is a teacher. That comes with responsibilities including exercising some freaking self control.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:40am

If his biggest mistake was making an incorrect assumption about your education or underestimating your expertise in the area of psychology, then I think he deserves admonition for making said assumption, but then it would be nice to hear your other insights. I hope you are not taking offense to this, as none is meant, but there are a number of people on EJ whose comments I read and want to continue reading. Yours and Yogijulians are two of them.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:04am

    thanks andrew – yeah i mean no offense braja, but clearly i rub you the wrong way and will continue trying to shift my tone so as to not do so.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:26am

[…] My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations.. […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:17am

For anyone who says that the organization is separate from JF, think again. Ten percent of the money you give to your local Anusara teacher still ends up in his pocket. Fortunately the teacher I respect the most in my are is already planning her exit strategy. Until he has PROVEN that he is worthy of trust and respect, again, I wish him well but I will not support this system.. there are plenty of other great yoga teachers and classes out there. I have no idea if JF is sincere in changing his ways or if he is right now cuddled up in bed with his newest squeeze, smoking a doobie an while he reads this on his ipad, having a good laugh on us. Only time will tell.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:32pm

    The only royalties are for PRODUCTS created by Certified teachers – like a DVD or a book, not from classes but for PRODUCTS. Please continue to support your local Anusara yoga teacher. Most of the money will go to the studio owner, not to Anusara. We pay a yearly fee ($50 for inspired, I think $90 for certified) and have to have another teacher observe our class. Our names, contact info, and class schedules are listed on the AY site so that anyone looking for an Anusara class all over the world can find one. Trust me, my $50 is paid for time and time again by people visiting my area that found my classes on the website. So please only post what you KNOW to be true or you may hurt someone like your local Anusara yoga teacher that is just struggling to get by.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:41pm

    Just to clarify, it is 10% of product sales… so if a Certified teacher makes and sells a DVD or book or whatever as an Anusara teacher, then 10% goes to the company. Certified teachers are not charged anything on what they make teaching classes, workshops, immersions, teacher trainings, etc. Please know the facts before you speak.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:11am

A year ago after taking a few anusara classes, (unsafe and ego driven) I went to website and read this long rambling, obnoxious, cliche filled description and mission statement. It read like a Saturday night live skit! I knew then Mr. “Friend” would be where he is today., I hope he finds another path.., Attachment…, practice yoga, don’t cling to it.

    anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:37am

    Many of us have rolled our eyes at Anusara's vernacular—bliss this, grace that—for years. Few if any of us have direction questions John or his senior teachers. I and we all should take more responsibility for our failure to question something that you claim to have seen heading off the rails years before it did so.

    Yesmen/groupie-ism is indeed a powerful part of what got us here and what we can take away from this, so that another community won't do this again in a few years' time.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:09am

Thank you Elephant for giving John a voice. I find it shocking how unwilling to forgive many of the yogis are. It seems they have forgotten the principle "Open to GRACE". Throw the first stone if you are so perfect, but I for one support John. So sad that mistakes we make cast aside the good that we do! Hmmmm let me think… Clinton, Kennedy…my Anusara practice was never about or for or to John. It is about the principles. I wish him love and light as he walks through the cave of haters.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:10pm

    "Open to Grace" does not mean "brush under the rug." I am grateful to John for his practice. It has changed my life, and I will continue to practice it with my fantastic teachers. And I continue to be devoted to the lovely community. I also send him light for the own personal struggle he is going through now. But he broke his own Anusara Code of Ethics. He needs to be held accountable to that, as have many other teachers in the past. I think this is needed if the Anusara community is to move forward with any integrity.

      anonymous Feb 13, 2012 1:09pm

      Clinton and Kennedy slept with many women, but politicians, although similar in power to gurus or famous teachers, are not accountable in the same way. Yoga implies a sacred contract between student and teacher, and when that is broken, it has serious consequences for the student, who gives all of their trust to the teacher. Forgiveness is necessary in all situations, but first, anger at betrayal is a very appropriate response.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:02am

[…] Friend Replies source We’re going off in a different direction today. Instead of looking at the practices of Yoga […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:00am

I will not judge him, everyone makes mistakes. I have taken workshops and classes with John Friend and know that he is a great teacher. But his actions and the allegations against him now make me question if he truly believes what he teaches. By involving himself in these situations shows me that he has still has demons of his own to fight so how can he continue to be a leader of the Anusara Community when it is based on the premises of love and is not self love the first step to loving others.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:58am

Is there any interview of him right now that would satisfy all readers? My guess is that there is not. He has agreed to some of the charges and ignored others and I guess that is within the parameters of his own conscious to do so.

For me what really needs to be addressed is the pedestal this man was put on, by whom and why. He is not only a simply a yoga teacher (caveat: I am too and not Anusara) but also only a human. The culture of almost deity-like admiration of someone creates this kind of power and opportunity for them to dance outside the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior to others. When this happens then a situation where someone in a position of power can abuse it over those who put him there can be created. That to me is the real issue.

Perhaps the question we should be asking is not "did you do these things?" but rather "how did our system, our reverance and our lack of looking at self as a guru allow such a situation to get this crazy?" Then we might all might not be satisfied by the answer, but at least we'd have something concrete to work on for the future.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:58am

"We simply are aspiring to do responsible journalism", thank you Ele and Waylon for doing your very best to put your ethics first. This has been an opportunity for me to see (and reflect upon..again and again) the teachings of Yoga unfolding particularly the two first yamas: Ahimsa and Satya. There is a cause to any consequence, be it painful or pleasant- So I very much liked your reminder Waylon on response-ability… In regards to that, I feel that the choice of words is important. Waylon, in your first question, you used the words "not fully honest". I think there is nothing such as being fully or partially honest. You either say what you mean and mean what you say, either not. I felt the attempt to be straightforward in that first question but I think we cannot invite truthfulness by using words such as "fully honest". Also related to your second question, I wanted to add that I AM concerned about my teachers relationships, because Yoga is definitively about relationships. So maybe, you feel it is not your business, but I can assure you that, as a reader of Ele, it is MY concern that my teachers live a sattvic life, a life that inspires and uplifts other people, a life that (on a day to day basis)values and honors the sacredness of the teachings of Yoga (i.e. the yamas) and unapologetically embrace the response-ability of being spiritual teachers (in english) or gurus (in sanskrit). And again thank you for stepping in, putting your ethics first. A reader and an aspiring yogini, Jeanine

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:33am

[…] original here: My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations … Posted in Online Predators Tags: all-sorts, anonymous-web, friday, jfexposed, luring-and, […]

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:25am

though to repost my response to some of what i see as attempts to minimize the sexual relationships here as being consenting between adults etc thus kinda erasing the power differential.

one person said it wasn't so bad and she really kinda saw it as the rock star groupie thing…. i responded:

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 engenders adoration of him 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, think about it: 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.

i love sex and think how people choose to set up their sex lives is up to them, and i am the last person you could ever call an ascetic puritan – but it's pretty bad.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:32am

    Julian-
    I can't agree more with everything you just said. When people use the term abuse I think there are conclusions that are automatically assumed when abuse is a word with such a broad meaning. You have to ask yourself, would these women have had relations with him had he not been in the position he is in? Who knows but I am inclined to think that the answer is probably not. How much of all of this is our business though? That's what I am struggling with. Because none of it affects me personally. You are absolutely right though if he had been a school teacher or therapist it is quite likely he would have formal charges pressed against him. It is pretty bad.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:41pm

      i hear you on this jennifer – and i think you ask a good question.

      personally, i think it is our business because we are part of the yoga community and seeing the actions of such a public leader in a broader context allow us to ask good questions about how we engage as teachers, teacher trainers, mentors and human beings in an honest conversation about the nature of ethics, power, and the shadow that will always wreak havoc in spiritual communities if it is not correctly addressed, processed and included as part of the philosophy.

      someone having multiple affairs with married people while themselves in a relationship – yea sure not my business, pretty fucked up, but not my business really. dude needs some therapy! whatever… 🙂

      dude happens to be a super prominent leader in our community who passes down ethical rules and guidelines for his students and happens to be having said affairs with employees, students, acolytes in the name of some kind of ritual sex magick for the good of the community, while getting them to receive illegal packages and while acting in a probably borderline illegal way with their pension funds….. well gee it all starts to sound like a pretty nasty picture.

      if this nasty picture is even 60% true, we have a case study in some key issues that need to be thought about very deeply with regard to how we structure spiritual communities in the booming business of yoga.

      anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:14am

      If you knew a family member, friend or had been in the situation these women/employees are in, you might not be struggling so much. The kind of people who get involved with abusers like this will feel fear, shame, guilt and confusion and won't come forward and it may change their lives. My sister had her life destroyed by a college teacher because of a similar power differential and then after that, her therapist. Now 45 years old and she is lost to us all. She just has one of those psychological profiles that is just is easy to take advantage of. Predators have a radar for these types. Thats why there are laws. Empowered people just don't get hooked into these power abuse dynamics unless their jobs are at stake and even then super empowered people with lots of integrity say no to that too.

      John knew better. He sat on an ethics committee for years before starting Anusara. Somewhere along the way he lost his personal integrity. Its all very sad for everyone. No one is a winner here.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:49pm

    Julian,
    Thank you so much for your clear and compassionate responses and ideas. I am a big fan of your articles. Thanks again.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:16am

Thank you for this interview Waylon. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The road is wide open for teachers and students alike to speak their truths without fear, step up to the plate and act with integrity, as it should be, but it’s not always the case.

So John Friend is not the man some people thought he was and I am not surprised. But I wonder how many of us are really fully aligned with truth. That is why we practice.

John says “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.”

How about we all walk differently in our relationship with ourselves, and let this be a lesson that the consequences of lies and deceit are not worth the pleasure. Phony doesn’t look good on anyone and some people just reek of it.

Look forward to learning how Friend chooses to rise as a man.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:02am

    Definitely just the tip of the ice berg. I do wish that more of the anonymous critics would appreciate how hard it was to get these out there and get answers back. John was forthcoming, but this was not a situation where I was able to get a real interview. A real interview would be live, of course, and everything on the table. This, however, was a start, and hopefully as Carol said offered some confirmation and new information.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:55am

    My money is on him suing the person that told the truth…

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 11:57pm

      Yes, this would be consistent with his fear-based leadership and control style.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:16am

This was great Waylon. I have done Anusara for 7 years and went through Anusara teacher training twice now. Ironically I just went though this with my Zen master Genpo Roshi. They both hit me hard, because I feel for those who invest so much energy in these great but narcissistic and flawed men. I really don't care what people do in private but for me if you adhere to a set of ethics and principals you simply have to uphold them. Buddhism teaches ethical behavior and right practice in sex, speech and deed. Anusara teaches alignment in your body and mind and especially in your ethics. Alignment in all things….includes your dick.
I understand being human and making mistakes. I do not understand justifying your mistakes or continuing to engage in them until you are forced to change.
Anusara is the best sytem of yoga I have found for myself.
Anusaras first prinicpal is 'open to grace.'
And now falling from grace.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:53am

    Agreed! For the students of Anusara (at the latest in the certification process) we are encouraged to read "The Yoga of Discipline". Yes, discipline in the senses, discipline in the way we lead our lives. So, no, smoking pot and bagging married women is not discipline and certainly not yoga.
    Some might argue that some tantric yogis smoke pot, eat meat and have strange sexual practices, but to decontextualize such practices is biased and unfair, for JF is not a naga sadhu and lives in the world.
    AND perhaps the most important question is: do these unrestrained, adharmic practices lead you and your environment to a more expanded state of mind? Is it beneficial at all, and ultimately does it lead to real freedom? Probably not.
    I am glad that John is coming out and hopefully he will be honest all the way. We all have much to learn and I am glad that the teachings are the teachings and if practiced and assimilated they do work. John is a great teacher, but I think that this will be a great reminder that foremost he should be a great student!
    For those of you who haven't read the letter he sent to the teachers here it is: http://bayshakti.com/john-friend-response-to-alle

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:37am

    Dude. "Alignment in all things….includes your dick." Comic GOLD.
    Thank you for making me completely grateful I am reading this thread this morning
    instead of warming up rice.
    That was awesome and I can not guarantee you I wont steal it.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:15am

There is no way a person could be “ALL” that people claimed John Friend to be. If one was to read ” The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, a good question to ask is

“How could this not have happened?” IT TOOK A LOT MORE THAN JOHN FRIEND to create the MYTH OF JOHN FRIEND.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:59am

    Yes. Theism takes two. We build them up, tear them down for not being what we wanted them to be. They are us: imperfect, striving, on the path. No excuses for any of us.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:15am

It was ALL about ethics.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:35am

    remember the "Yoga of Discipline"?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:14am

Yes, this is the type of thing that CEOs get fired over. Yes, in years past this sort of revelation could lead to banishment or lynching. But I don’t think casting this man out is the answer. It wouldn’t just hurt John Friend to do that. It’d hurt all of us. Why? Because it’s our habitual response, and it doesn’t work. Whenever one of these scandals breaks – and they’re the same issues over and over – we just dispose of the person causing the problem and get back to business as usual. And then someone else goes and fornicates inappropriately or cheats their employees or the taxpayers or whoever… and more people get vengeful, more people feel hatred, more people become bitter and cynical. Let’s please stop doing that!

So what to do instead? What can we express that might pave the way to something better? I think it’s got to start by recognizing that yes, John Friend messed up… AND many of us projected a lot onto him. So we all share this burden. If we want to truly get something good out of this situation, he’s got to change, and so do we.

Should he continue to be in charge of Anusara? Maybe not. If a good teacher sees a student behaving inappropriately and can identify the cause of that inappropriate behavior, the teacher’s job is to help the student cast it off. John Friend says he’s a student first – so Anusara should try to teach him. The community should figure out what contributed to this misalignment, and determine where the man should be and what he should do to overcome it.

It might be hard for him to make that kind of meaningful change at the helm of his organization. Then again, maybe what he really needs is to figure out how to incorporate recognition of his boo-boos and darkness and muck into Anusara. I don’t know.

In any case, we should leave that judgement to those who know him within the Anusara community and have taken on the weighty responsibility of responding to this. The ethics committee doesn’t have the luxury of anonymously announcing “SCREW TAHT BASTARD!!11!1” and believing their words aren’t going to hurt anyone. They know there’s a lot riding on this, and this guy is their teacher and friend! They’ve got their work cut out for them… and so do we. We’ve got to attend to our own practice.

What does that mean? Watch out for our tendencies toward projection and attachment? Stand loudly against business or spiritual models that put so much power into the hands of a few? I’m working on figuring it out for myself. What about you?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:09am

good job holding all this tension, sticking to your principles and getting the man to trust you enough to answer this frankly waylon. now get some sleep! 🙂

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:21am

    The odds on Waylon sleeping right now are thinner than a seven-foot supermodel.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:58am

      It's 157 am, talk show with Richard Freeman tomorrow night, and I'd have to agree. That said, Julian did get me to go get some bodywork today for first time in…2 years? Four years? Gassho.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:05am

But here is the problem – hypocrisy – even in the above interview, John never says he was ethically wrong for sleeping with his students and employees. He defends himself as a victim of a disgruntled employee rather then understanding how his inappropriate behavior with the teacher/student power differential can result in psychological harm to women (and the people in the organization as a whole – those who have to cover up and look the other way and for those who can't speak up for fear of consequences). In effect, by failing to be a good role model or follow his own teacher/student ethics guidelines, he gives justifications for his behavior in this interview, ie, I am "not a guru" and these were "concensual relationships". So, there is pain to be spread as a result of his unconsciousness…. even in this interview he is not being fully accountable for his role in the "seat of the teacher" or acknowledging his failures in following his own ethical guidelines his teachers are required to follow. His teachers have faced consequences for ethics violations so now we see how this unfolds.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:23am

    In response to my question about relationships.

    "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."

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:24pm

      There is a very serious lack of full accountability and awareness in John's responses in this interview and as a spiritual leader who reaps the rewards of fame, power and status he demonstrates in this interview his failure to understand the profound purpose of the teacher-student or healer/client/patient, ethical guidelines to protect the innocence of those who place trust in their teachers, healers and employers. He has an ego as big as Icarus, who flew to close to the sun, and the denial symptoms of an addict.

      And likewise….we never mean to harm our children when we don't strap them in with a seat belt but there are laws and consequences (like dead children) for such ignorance or unconsciousness.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:05pm

    Anusara students can file formal ethical grievances against teachers. Shouldn't this include Mr. Friend? http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_content&...

    All ethical grievances against Anusara yoga teachers should be submitted via email to [email protected] or mailed to: Ethics Committee c/o Anusara, 9400 Grogan’s Mill Rd, #200, The Woodlands, TX 77380.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:48pm

Waylon, props to you. I feel that you are handling this whole mess really well. There are other matters here that aren’t being discussed, though, that need to be.

Most importantly, WHY is everyone in anusara (and yoga for that matter), including myself, so afraid to talk? What is it about the SYSTEM (Anusara’s and other yoga systems, and, honestly, other educational systems) that has made it that way? I’m relieved that John wants to work on being more transparent, but as teachers in Anusara, it is impossible to do so without major consequences. How do we become teachers that can be transparent and still hold the seat of the teacher? I have a lot of thoughts on this (mostly around yoga etiquette and hierachy), but want to see what y’all think first. I am craving these much needed discussions and I think if we start to have them, our relationships will be a lot healthier.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:52am

    and again, not the same Erin as before, I'm Erin2.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:41pm

He had sex, they had sex, people had sex, everyone agreed to have sex. Who the hell cares!

Go do something worthwhile. Write about something REALLY important.

Stop being a bunch of prurient Amish prudes.

Do something important; Stop corporatism.

Stop killing animals. Stop war. Stop female genital mutilation. Stop polluting the earth. Stop leering at your grandmother you perv.

Stop fraud and corruption at every level of government. This is all petty superficial bullshit.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:47pm

    He was manipulating people with his position of power. He admitted in his own letters that he had lied to several women at the same time. This isn't about him having sex. Nobody cares about that. This is about him abusing his power, manipulating and lying to people and to his community, and breaking his own code of ethics. Hypocrisy at its worst.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:09am

      I don't think this is hypocrisy…that implies that folks can be perfect. We're all hypocritical, if that's the case. We all make mistakes. From a Buddhist pov, when we make mistakes, the practice is to come back to honesty and the present moment and compassion as quickly as possible. That's what we practice. We do not practice being perfect, because that's not possible, and it's a self-serious, uptight, way of trying to live. Much better is to learn to laugh at ourselves, and learn, and be honest, and open.

      In this context, I agree with you on the sex. I do think the problem is more than he has been deceptive, and selfish. I hope this situation has provided him with the sort of feedback that will help him, and help his community, and help the yoga community generally learn to relax and be more honest, instead of surrounding himself and ourselves with those who already agree with him and us.

        anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:11am

        Please everyone; stop calling this a “mistake”. I said this earlier; a “mistake” is something you didn’t mean to do. Or, it’s making one bad decision, having a momentary lapse in judgment. John made the conscious decision to behave this way, and to lie about it OVER and OVER and OVER again.
        You are correct, no one is perfect, and no one was asking JF to be perfect. We just expected basic decent good behavior.

        anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:01pm

        This wasn't a mistake. He knew his own ethical guidelines and those operating in similar organizations and he has over many years made justifications to not follow them to both himself, his staff and his students. He had many warnings for those who put integrity over fear of loosing a job or status. The people who called him out are the tip of the iceberg – 9 out 10 women (and men) don't ever come forward due to shame, fear, guilt and more. The few people who did shine the light of truth on what has been going on for years, had enough painful rage to forgo any negative consequences this exposure will cause them. There are NO winners. This karmic drama could have easily been avoided for hundreds if not thousands of eager yoga students had John stayed aligned with the highest principles of the teacher. What more proof do you need then this forum for the pain and confusion this has caused? The anguish expressed in this forum alone is one of the many reasons WHY ethical guidelines are important to follow.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:10am

    I wasn't leering, that was a Glance, damnit.

    Your list of other worthwhile causes is daunting, and point taken, perhaps more constructive actions are on our palette, but look again at this one. Also, I'm no prude and I bet the Amish party when they party.

    The yoga community is a large force, and embryonic in its actions regarding real activism and change. Embryonic but potentially POWerful. GetReal, sorting our heads regarding the foibles of this major player in modern yoga is worthwhile.
    Steering our thinking now: framing these events in empowering terms, is work that matters.

    Some seeds look like marks on a computer screen.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:50pm

      Thanks for your sense of humor. ;-0

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:38pm

I'm currently a teacher in the Anusara certification process. Like many, I'm saddened by the situation and hope from the bottom of my heart that John sees what he has done and changes his ways.

In the past few days I have paused and thought, do I still want to be certified considering all that's happened? And the answer is yes. Not because I necessarily condone what John has done but because NONE OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE SYSTEM ITSELF. Anusara is a method, a community, and a beautiful space that has brought many people great joy and insight into themselves and the world around them. Despite this controversy, Anusara will continue to do all that and much more. That's why I'm a proud teacher and student of this system.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:58am

    Yoga "is a method, a community, and a beautiful space that has brought many people great joy and insight into themselves and the world around them". Anusara is just a brand name.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:25pm

      Kris, I practiced yoga for 10 years before entering Anusara. All types of yoga have the ability to do the above but it was only Anusara that really brought me into a deeper level of awareness. No other "brand" of yoga did it for me. Therefore, I firmly stand by my original wording.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:04pm

    Why not file a formal ethical grievance? http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_content&...

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:26pm

It wasn't a married woman, it was married "women". What kind of ego maniac needs to sleep with multiple women who are married?

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:06am

    Not sure who you're correcting, but I certainly said "women" in my questions.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:15pm

    And what kind of married women betray their husbands to sleep with a yoga teacher? Honestly, some share of responsibility must be borne on both sides of that equation.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:19pm

….When you have words to speak about this situation, really sit and think about the intention behind what you are about to spread into the community…Does it help? Is it going to heal all those affected?….I am a certified teacher, I have had my moments of questioning my path in general and with Anusara….the questioning is healthy….Through all of this I can honestly say my love for THE METHOD OF ANUSARA has never been greater…All of us have rallied and our resolve to serve our communities is at its highest….My heart has broken wide open and it is honestly one of life’s greatest gifts……we do not forget but we can forgive.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:42am

    John didn’t make a “mistake”. A “mistake” is something you didn’t mean to do. Or, it’s making one bad decision, having a momentary lapse in judgment. John made the conscious decision to behave this way over and over and over again. I do not consider his behavior “being human”. I consider it deplorable and deceitful. Behaving decently is simply not that hard and I expect it of everyone, especially yogis and especially yogis in such powerful, visible positions.
    John should have followed your advice, “really sit and think about the intention behind what you are about to spread into the community”.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:55pm

      Hi Kris. I appreciate your feedback and do actually share you sentiment….I guess my point in all of this is does all of the mud flinging in John’s direction support OUR path as yogis? Yes, he of course needs (and will be) held accountable…but I feel that throwing harsh words out behind the safety of a computer is not the best way to serve the situation on hand? Just a contemplation….From my vantage point, the lesson for us as a community to get is to speak to his actions by walking our talk in a bigger way…That will actually affect the greatest change and not just throw more negativity into the web that we all are connected to…Last, it is the repeated poor judgment that makes him very much an embodied soul…a great teacher once said that some samskaras are like the grand canyon….this is obviously one that John will be shifting for life times..

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:19pm

Ugh….I have resisted thus far but can no longer…The first thing I noticed across the board harshness and lack of compassion about the whole thing. I’m not saying that what has transpired is OK, we all agree to that, but the responses from most have been far from “yogic”…..Yes, John has tremendous power in his role but at the end of the day he is still bound to the terms of being human, which includes making mistakes and LEARNING from them…Is that not why we are all here?? In a lot of ways this kind of situation just gives people the freedom to rail on the target to feel a little better about their path/life, that we are somehow above and better than the person we are condemning. Would you say the same things if the person was standing in front of you in their vulnerability? Continued….

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:19pm

The only reason he admits to this and expresses "regret" is because he got caught. He should step down.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:06pm

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Criticism and supportive comments are welcome, but disrespectful comments will be deleted. Thanks! ~ Waylon
3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
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West Anson Very good, fair, & tough questions Waylon. While he is limited on what he can say at least he acknowledged his mistakes.
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Gretchen Lynn Badami I admire his honest answers and admittance that he made mistakes. This episode bespeaks the larger problem of what happens in a community when one person gets put on a pedestal- the ego overtakes and power dynamics get created. None of this should be a part of yoga, and the true guru is one who shuns all acknowledgement of his/her gifts. If John can handle this situation with grace, it is an opportunity for him and the entire community to grow.
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Rob Hansen i think john friend is a fraud, following in the lineage of muktananda in molesting his followers. much respect to the teachers that resigned. the others should too
2 hours ago ·
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Shiva Steve Ordog Snore
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Susi Costello I don't see why this surprises people so much. I'm MUCH more surprised by powerful men who DON'T ply vulnerable women with their famous penises. I'll tell you what does shock me though. Yoga teachers with pensions. I wish!
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Mary Beth Bender It puts it into the perspective of 'there is no guru, no disciple, realize who you are.' JF is facing that publicly b/c he founded Anusara. Other Yogis and Yoginis are doing immoral things we just don't hear about. He teaches a practice centered on the heart. He can channel the ego into love. Love wins.
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Tiffany Leor Cooper Thank you John Friend for being you. A complicated human being like all the rest of us. I love Anusara Yoga…it has made a beautiful and postivie impact on my life. None of this silliness changes that. ♥
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1
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Yuna Shin Sex with your employees, whether paid or not, is NEVER appropriate. JF took advantage of them whether he believed they consented to it or not. JF can't just ask for forgiveness because he recognizes he made mistakes. He should have known better–he simply should not have made them. And whether he likes it or not, many believe him to be the guru. And why not? He founded and copyrighted Anusara. He has personally anointed his followers. In the end, yoga teachers are bound by yamas and nyamas. Did he? I am afraid not. And the argument that "others are doing it, so it's ok for you (or anyone else) to do it" is a fallacy called "common practice."
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 2
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Susan Ramos Rockstar yoga teachers behaving badly. *Yawn*
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Nyk Danu Yoga I supposed everyone judging here is perfect…right …don't make any mistakes?
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Gail Super I am sorry but this is almost as bad as the excuses that the Italian captain made…as in I never knew I was jumping overboard….never mind the moral/ethical conundrum which is pretty obvious, DUH, but the pension issue also disturbs me. In effect the terms and conditions of the employee benefits were being altered unilaterally and to then plead that 'I acted in good faith because I never knew' is pretty bizarre. If you run a big corporation, which is what it seems Anusara, and many other yoga schools have become, then you should at the very least know that you have to be aware of the legalities of how you act. Om shanti.
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Tanya Botha John Friend is a genius for the system he has created. I have gained so much from Anusara Yoga and there are many many fantastic Anusara teachers that I love to learn from. My perspective of Johns public persona is that he seems kinda up his own ass and totally behaves like a rockstar. Funny how we love our rockstars for their bad behavior but not our yoga teachers. I have a lot of yoga teacher friends with secret personal lives that don't align with their public yogic presentation of themselves.
Maybe it's time for John to pull back from being such a prominent figurehead in this system so that his chosen lifestyle doesn't affect it's followers and their commitment to something that is now so much bigger than he is. I don't think he deserves to be the leader of this system anymore. There are others who are carrying the light more brightly than he… Right now his credibility is sorely lacking as a trustworthy teacher. He hasn't made mistakes. He has made conscious choices that lack social integrity and honesty. He doesn't need to be forgiven. He needs to decide whether he should resign his own certification, or if he can actually be the trustworthy person we expect him to be if he holds the kind of esteemed position he has been holding.

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Tara Dalley Hey Waylon…..thanks for always being awesome, and always asking the hard questions. Wish there were more writers out there like you! 🙂

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:03pm

So, If I understand the above interview…The Answer is Yes, The BSF was in effect and Yes…Apologies are being given to the people involved? In the end, all of the truth comes out, leaders have no choice but to live transparently. Those who don’t will not remain leaders. Unfortunately, I think a lot of this comes down to money, power and abuse. You have to be comfortable with sharing publicly how you live, otherwise we will appoint someone else to lead who is sharing their life honestly.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:57pm

What seems clear so far is this:

1) JF repeatedly broke the trust of student teacher relationships by engaging in sexual relations with Anusara students and teachers over a long period of time. This is unethical and immoral. This has and will continue to cause long term damage to Anusara and the greater Yoga community. There is clearly truth to this part of the allegation.

2) There were at least mistakes, and possibly more devious events regarding the pension questions. As "lawyer" has pointed out the document from JF this week says very little. There's some truth, and potentially a lot more smoke there.

3) The questions about a "coven" and a Wicca/Anusara connection have not been asked or answered.

4) The questions about illegal pot shipments and use have not been asked or answered.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:03am

    4) I did bring that up, perhaps you didn't read. I personally do not smoke, I'm Buddhist and we frown upon such, but I have zero moral issue with someone smoking, and don't feel it's my business or yours unless it harms another. ~ Waylon

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:04am

      3) same. I did bring that up but find most religions to be nutters, from a scientific / ration pov. While I find much of Anusara happy-wappy, love n'lighty, I don't know much about it. And I know less about wicca, and am not sure it's our business. What is our business is those unethical relationships, and how and if John is going to learn from those mistakes, and how the others are doing and effected by this.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:46pm

Can I just say, "Jesus Mary and Holy Heck, take that godawful photo down!" :)))

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:25pm

Another white male in a power/authority position using his dominance to subvert others, mostly female. *yawn*. Why do we let this crap roll on decade after decade?!

Looks like JF the yogi is finally learning his biggest lesson yet: the shadow is still the shadow, even when you get caught! Now the real work begins.

    anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:40am

    Not sure him being white had much to do with this. I love how racism is fine for some, but not others. I can give you a long list of non-white spiritual gurus and yoga teachers who have done the same thing. As for the gender component, harder to argue, Sarah!

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:08pm

Well done Waylon! Now THAT is what journalism looks like!

    Kate Bartolotta Feb 8, 2012 10:12pm

    Amen to that!

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:10am

    Thanks, Chris. That said, from my first reaction, I said "From the beginning I said I'd cover but we'd be patient, that human lives are concerned, and while we don't do journalism, we aspire to its ethics…" What I did here was not journalism, but I did try to hold to the middle line of criticism and compassion, both, not just one or the other.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:04pm

It feels like a good opportunity to practice, all round. x

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:00pm

Was JF, say, two weeks ago still merrily engaging in the activites described in the emails and Skype conversations? How much longer would he have continued to behave in this way if the "malicious attacker" had not exposed his behavior? Every day that this was kept a secret, more and more people ( the overwhelming majority of them women) were sinking their time, money, and energy into getting that precious Anusara certification. which may soon not be worth the paper its printed on. More importantly, they were putting their spirtual and emotional well being into the hands of a lying, manipulative misogynist. As a human being and another child of God, I can forgive John Friend and wish him well.. but from a distance. I may admire a ratttlesnake as a beautiful creation of God, but I am not going to let it in my house or trust it not to posion me if I get too close. I refuse to spend one more dollar of my money on any Anusara class or product if 10 percent of it is going into John Friend's pocket.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:15pm

    "More importantly, they were putting their spirtual and emotional well being into the hands of a lying, manipulative misogynist."- Couldn't agree more with this statement. That is the crux of the matter, in my opinion.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:40pm

Fantastic interview, Waylon. Journalistic integrity to the nth degree.

What a sad and unfortunately situation for the entire community. I had inklings of a very unhealthy imbalance of power when I interviewed John and wrote the article on cults vs. kulas last year, but not to this degree. The truth is, Anusara is not by any means the only yoga community in which these types of dynamics and circumstances are coming up. Anytime a group of people project that much infatuation and reverence toward one man (or woman for that matter), nothing good will come of it. I hope this can be a learning opportunity for all of us.

    anonymous Feb 13, 2012 2:30pm

    This comment resonates with me the most, this idolization of teachers is common, I believe, especially in the Yoga community. I can't help thinking as more and more people turn away from organized religion that this creates a spiritual void, making this even more common place… (Apart from those who turn to the new religion of Science?)
    It also reminds of human nature and how beautifully this following was satirized in "The life of Brian".
    Brian stands before a large crowd of followers and tells them to F.. Off, to which his followers say to him, oh lord how shall we F.. off…..

    anonymous Feb 25, 2012 9:07am

    When you said: " Anytime a group of people project that much infatuation and reverence toward one man (or woman for that matter), nothing good will come of it. I hope this can be a learning opportunity for all of us", it made me think of how celebrities are ramped up by the media, who then loves to trash them when they fall. Perhaps they fall because they are so glorified? I think the "learning opportunity" is for the media, the public and the celebrity to develop a more healthy relationship. Any thoughts on how to do that?

    Btw, Chelsea: if possible could you provide a link to your article on cults and kulas?

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:32pm

[…] understands that the only way he will get his side of the story out is through online mediums. Here’s the interview, which, as I said, is intense. Lewis starts to conclude the interview with the line quoted at the […]

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:32pm

Sex with your employees, whether paid or not, is NEVER appropriate. JF took advantage of them whether he believed they consented to it or not. JF can’t just ask for forgiveness because he now recognizes he made mistakes. He should have known better–he simply should not have made them. And whether he likes it or not, many believe him to be the guru. And why not? He founded and copyrighted Anusara. He has personally anointed his followers. In the end, yoga teachers are bound by yamas and nyamas. Did he follow them? I am afraid not. And the argument that “others are doing it, so it’s ok for you (or anyone else) to do it” is a fallacy called “common practice.”

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:56pm

    And I'm left wondering, did the husbands consent to Mr. Friend sleeping with their wives? If not, then it wasn't "consensual."

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:28pm

JF has lost my respect forever.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:07am

    I'd ask why he had it in the first place….
    ?

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:35am

      He actually hasn’t had it (my respect) since 2005. I studied Anusara yoga from 2003-2005 and then shifted my focus to more traditional yogic study. I stopped studying Anusara for a few reasons. One, I didn’t agree with their shoulder blade alignment, but much more importantly I didn’t like how people were so enamored with “the great John Friend”. For years I’ve said I stopped my association with Anusara yoga because it felt too cult like. Everything that’s coming to light right now just confirms why I was having those feelings.
      I also strongly disagree with all the branding of yoga that is going on in American yoga these days and he’s the king of branding. I feel branding creates separation and division in the yoga world and not unity or community. I’d be happy if the whole Anusara brand crumbled and people went back to teaching and practicing just yoga.

        anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:34pm

        My favorite comment so far in this entire mess of comments. Hear hear to the end of branding and just going back to teaching and practising yoga *as a discipline*, not as a trendy fitness new age routine.

        anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:48pm

        I agree with you. I knew John years ago when he came to the ashram I was staying in in India. He was charismatic even then. Over the years I watched Anusara yoga develop, took a few classes but could not figure out why I liked other schools of yoga better. I've wanted to believe John was as highminded as he seemed, as the teachings that he has proclaimed, but now I understand my hesitation to get wholeheartedly into Anusara. He certainly appears to be a fraud at this point, and someone, as they say, deluded by his own shakti.
        I hope he gets treatment for his various addictions.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:32pm

Surprise surprise. Powerful, charismatic spiritual figurehead has feet of clay.
Nothing new under the sun.
When I first realised my teacher was prone to spiritual vanity and other imperfect emotions I was disillusioned and sad. Then ok as I realised he is not nor has ever claimed to be totally enlightened. He (my teacher) is a great Yoga teacher though and never stops trying to reach enlightenment. Sometimes I think that's all we can do.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:10am

    Well, that and not manipulating students to sleep with us while telling them that it will make them more "powerful". The magnificent ego of that rocks me off my feet. The idea that he perpetuated the belief that his "sexual energy" would give these women a step up to spiritual enlightenment and power! Wow!

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:12pm

      Where are you getting this information that he would make the women more powerful or enlightened by sleeping with him?

        anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:57pm

        This was intimated in one of the messages from John to the woman that is now hard to find as the website is removed. He didn't say it exactly like that, but there was something about how sleeping together would be some expression of their great power.

      anonymous Feb 10, 2012 6:48am

      Yes, I realised after I posted that if I found out my teacher was using his position to curry sexual favours with students I'd be out the door pretty quickly.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:32pm

I too am very disappointed. I felt that this interview definitely showed bias towards John Friend. Especially the question about how the person who exposed the info had some kind of an axe to grind. The manner in which Waylon asked that question implies that he agrees that the person was "out to get" John and implies illegitimacy to the claims. That is bias.

Also agree that the oversized headshot was obnoxious and this entire piece makes Elephant appear to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for John Friend. This interview was way too soft and didn't ask any of the real questions about John's abuse of power and whether or not he is fit to lead (I think he is not.)

As an Anusara student and avid Elephant reader, I am very disappointed. This entire situation has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    Kate Bartolotta Feb 8, 2012 8:43pm

    I think the whole situation (scandal, anonymous website, everyone who has been hurt by it) leaves a bad taste for all of us. I feel like the interview was balanced. I don't think it's an unreasonable leap to say that someone who sets up an anonymous website like that has an "axe to grind."

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:54pm

      That "axe to grind" could have been a fully legitimate one. I think it opened up a dialogue that needs to be further investigated. The fact that several senior teachers have left, both before and after that site went up, tells me there is more to this story still. I believe it was in an attempt to expose the truth and to prevent further questionable behavior from taking place. But furthermore to reveal the true hypocrisy of what is going on.

      It didn't feel at all balanced to me. Definitely felt like this was John's friend asking him questions in the most delicate way possible, while not being able to avoid the unavoidable questions.

        Kate Bartolotta Feb 8, 2012 9:06pm

        I hear what you're saying. I am coming from a position of no real opinion of John Friend/Anusara…complete outsider. Longtime yogini, but no real first hand Anusara experience.

        So when I look at the interview, what I see are some great questions that maybe could have been answered more fully by John Friend. In any case, an actual interview is preferable to anonymous accusations. I hope as time goes on, people with other first hand knowledge of the situations are willing and able to come forward in a non-anonymous way.

        anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:09pm

        From their pov, it was the opposite.

        I would love it if the other senior teachers would contribute to this conversation, but they're all MIA.

          anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:06pm

          Of course they are – since anusara is such a hierarchical organization, everyone must wait for word from the top. It reminds me of the old Soviet Union where everyone had to wait for word from Moscow to kknow what they were allowed to thnk day.

          Yoga is about freedom – and a hierachical corporate structure is not freedom.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:17pm

    Well put Anusara Yogi.. I totally agree.

    anonymous Feb 12, 2012 12:00pm

    I agree with you — I am not a Anusaryogi and was never attracted by the cultish energy I percieved among Anusaryogis — and I am disappointed that the Elephant interview was so tepid.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:26pm

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Criticism and supportive comments are welcome, but disrespectful comments will be deleted. Thanks! ~ Waylon
51 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
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West Anson Very good, fair, & tough questions Waylon. While he is limited on what he can say at least he acknowledged his mistakes.

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Gretchen Lynn Badami I admire his honest answers and admittance that he made mistakes. This episode bespeaks the larger problem of what happens in a community when one person gets put on a pedestal- the ego overtakes and power dynamics get created. None of this should be a part of yoga, and the true guru is one who shuns all acknowledgement of his/her gifts. If John can handle this situation with grace, it is an opportunity for him and the entire community to grow.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:19pm

Unfortunately the exact nature of the relationships with these women is exactly what's at stake. There's no such thing as a consenting relationship with a man who is your boss, your professional mentor, your yoga teacher, the idol of all your friends, your life coach, who you regularly see at the front of rooms full of hundreds of people who are all worshipfully following his every direction.

The enormous power differential here makes this sexual abuse.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:53pm

    I disagree, but each to their own. My mother was a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, who slept with many students, and he asked her. She said no. She was an adult. They continued to be close.

    Above, I asked him about the ethics. It is ethically wrong. There is a power differential. But as with, say, the 1970s, when my kickass mom (and many other students) had an affair with professors, such relationships can be consensual and filled with mutual respect. Okay, I'll stop using my mom as an example, but she's an amazing woman and was an amazing single mother, strong as hell and no one puts her in the corner, and I do regard her as my example.

    That said, again, it was a mistake and ethically questionable, as I stated.

    Please remember I'm doing my best. I'm not perfect, either. No one is. From his and his team's pov, I was overly critical and aggressive or "ego-driven" in my questions. When both "sides" criticize me, I know I'm doing something right?

    Again, my name is not anonymous. I'm on the line, or elephant is, and our reputation for fairness and transparency, both. I asked questions I wanted answers to. How he answered is in his control–getting this much was a fair amount of work given the now legal nature of this situation. I don't expect this interview to make anything right. I simply hope it adds to a fair and transparent context understanding of what happened. It doesn't get us there, obviously, but that may be borne out in court, if at all.

    yours,

    Waylon Lewis (that's my name, and I too am Disappointed)

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:46pm

      Um, Waylon? My comment was in no way about EJ or you. It's not the messenger I commenting on. It's the message.

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:36pm

      Hi Waylon,

      You didn't ask the most important question of all. Why is John Friend talking to you and not the teachers out their teaching Anusara, the teachers teaching his method? Why isn't he communicate with some degree of transparency with his community? The silence from him to the Anusara community is deafening.

        anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:55pm

        He sent them a letter this morning, or last night, I don't know, I'm not on their list. Did you not get it?

          anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:00pm

          Hi Waylon,

          Yes, John sent a letter shortly after midnight yesterday. However, it was his letter, his version, no dialogue. You were able to engage in a back & forth, however limited based on legal issues. He has had no public dialogue with the teachers of Anusara.

            anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:55pm

            i actually agree with you "disappointed." sorry waylon – more on why another time..

              anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:13am

              Don't be sorry, I respect your views consistently!

            anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:12am

            Chris, this was not a back and forth, I'm afraid. This was a "send questions" and "receive answers" a few days later and in the meantime, 800 phone calls with 20 people, half of whom think I'm attacked John and half of whom think I'm defending him. I'd love to conference call them all together, then leave the room and go have a real meal or…say, go to yoga.

              anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:46am

              here's a point to consider waylon and braja and kate – when i hear the examples of strong women who are able to say no to the inappropriate advances of seductive gurus (waylon you used your mom and trungpa, braja you used yourself and gurus more charismatic and handsome than JF) as a way of saying that the women involved are adults and can make their own decisions are not victims etc – i think there may be something key you are missing:

              it is not the strong ones who get victimized in these situations. it is the weak ones, the insecure ones, the ones who came to the spiritual community because they are wounded, don't have good boundaries or healthy self esteem, maybe have a history of abuse or trauma.

              it is the ones who get into the inner circle because they make the new community their life, because they buy so deeply into the philosophy and idealize the teacher in a way that is filling early childhood needs.

              you may scoff at this last statement but think about it: people who get really involved in the whole guru adoration trip are desperately seeking a parental substitute – not only that these need comes from such an early developmental place that they are seeking a *perfect* new parent who won't let them down – and what better person than someone who appears to be ethical, enlightened, a leader, a teacher of a profound spiritual philosophy that contains the answers about how the universe works, what the purpose of life is and how to live an awakened life?

              when i did my critique of friend based on his bizarre statements about the japanese tsunami i was reacting to a video interview. i had long seen the far away look in the eyes and heard the reverent tone when anusarites uttered his name – but seeing this student of his in the video asking the great master how it was possible that tsunamis happen given his teachings on the all-good nature of the universe and then listening to his inflated and disconnected pronouncements about earthquakes not being bad, just our response to them causing our own suffering – i was deeply disturbed by the dynamic at play and its psychological implications for how people in this community dealt with reality and what they were projecting onto their leader.

              sure – the students do the projecting, but the community provides the space and protocol for this and the leader sets the tone and either plays along with the projections or defuses them either gets real or perpetuates the unstable and delusional fantasy.

              i think we might consider that it is perhaps a mistake to separate the teachings from the teacher – my sense is that someone who teaches what he does and sets up a community in which he holds the kind of power and aura that he did usually has these unresolved shadow issues and they usually play out somehow along the predictable lines of sex, money and drugs.

              from a psychological perspective, if the women are perhaps in search of an all good daddy to idealize, the guru is unconsciously seeking his own early unmet needs around childhood narcissism: i am so amazing, look at what i can do, applaud me, praise me, tell me i am the best ever, so perfect, so smart, so beautiful, the most important etc…

              the problem with a lot of spirituality is that it actually does not address or provide ways of working through these kinds of issues, but instead perpetuates them….. the blunt force tropes about "killing the ego" just don't do it for this kinda stuff and the further one goes into these kinds of light and love spiritual communities without doing serious inner work on your shadow material (grief, rage, fear, trauma, unmet needs etc) the more precarious the situation becomes, especially if the guru is not also doing work on themselves and buys into their own hype as being infallible, or most enlightened or at another level above everyone else – this is usually a big set up for a massive fall from grace. we have seen it again and again but don't seem to learn the lesson.

              so my main point: it is the weak ones, the vulnerable ones, the ones with trauma, the ones who are trying to work something very deep and unconscious out with their guru who are most susceptible and will put their families and relationships at risk at the behest of the philandering narcissistic guru in the name of sex magick. really it is an old trick: well if you really wanna be enlightened you need to get some of this here special juju in the swamis pants…

              on the one hand, yeah sure they are consenting adults – on the other hand we do well to remember the altered reality that people in a cultish organization (however benign seeming) are living under and the psychological implications of a lot of the dynamics at play. people who get deeply involved in these sorts of dramas are usually unconsciously trying to work out a lot of stuff – spiritual communities would function better if there was more awareness of this and more tools and information to make this stuff conscious.

              check out how jack kornfield has his community set up based on a lot of psychological savvy and research into why cultish dynamics occur and how to keep things healthy….

                anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:58am

                let's not ignore the important piece here too that there is a god like aura bestowed upon the person who claims to know god. for a lot of these students john friend is their guide to nothing less than knowing god and in so doing fulfilling their deepest spiritual yearning – which (when it is that intense) is very often unconsciously symbolic of a whole lot of other stuff: yearning for mommy or daddy, struggling with the imperfect and painful nature of real life, longing for freedom from suffering etc…

                anonymous Feb 13, 2012 8:31am

                I love you, Julian. Maybe it's just because you're meeting some unmet childhood need of mine for subtle and layered discussions, and compassion, and the way you criticize JF without really seeming to criticize him. It's perfect. You're a genius. It seems the world is composed mostly of shadow-deniers and shadow-wallowers and the first group preys on the second while the wallowers feed the deniers. It's a rare individual who manages to remain unattached to either end of the polarity. I tend toward shadow-wallowing, therefore my tendency to want to criticize JF in an unkind way. Thanks for your post which helped me to look deeper into this issue.

                  anonymous Feb 13, 2012 11:04am

                  much appreciated. yea i live for the subtle layered nuances and how they often reveal the definitive distinctions… 🙂

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:52pm

      Waylon, I'm sure you are well motivated. But, you know, we don't have to mediate with predators. I'm someone that tries to please and I recognize this in others. Someone one told me, "Wow, you would mediate a murder." Being sensitive to others "POV" is great until you run up against the person that works by a different set of rules. Anyone that reads that manipulative letter he wrote to the coven can see that John is someone that goes by his own rules. He is at the very least a serial liar and sexual addict. If that's the case, he deserves an opportunity to make real amends to the hundreds if not thousands of people he's harmed and being apologetic to him does not encourage that facing of the truth. I think he's actually a sociopath and a predator and that this interview has served to let him continue to con people.

      Perhaps you're not operating from a need to please sociopaths. I've also noted another trend in journalism which is that every point of view needs to be represented. So, we must drag out the person that insists that the world was formed 6000 years ago if we are also going to interview a geologist.

      I can see you are genuine, I just can't figure out why you are so apologetic for him or see a need to please "both sides". There's no need to balance the needs of a predator.

      Finally, in this picture you present where it is okay for people in power to have sex with those under their influence, I just find a great deal of ambiguity. Is it ethically wrong or is it not? Are you saying it is ethically wrong but that it does not rise to the level of abuse? Is the wrongness not based on the abuse of a person? If it is not based on that, in what way is it wrong?

      I think you are unclear in your thoughts in a murky subject and you were perhaps not the best choice for the interviewer. A nice person, I'm sure, but it seems like your admiration for the man and willingness to cut sexual predators a little slack in the name of fairness got in the way.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:31pm

      Waylon, I'm really disheartened that you believe teacher-student sexual relationships are not problematic. You seem to base your position on one anecdotal story about your mom. It is great that she was able to say no and there were no negative consequences. However, that is not the case if you look at studies that examine boss-employee and teacher-student power dynamics. They are never consensual relationships as the student/employee is in a subordinate position. Job loss, low grade in a class, etc can result from saying "no". Your mother was lucky.

        anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:49am

        I'm not saying they're not problematic, at all. I'm saying that we students should never let go of our own power. Teachers are not gods and we should not behave like groupies or put them on pedestals.

          anonymous Feb 22, 2012 4:06pm

          Remember please that those in power hold responsibility with that power. To blame those in a victim situation (although, it may not look like a "victim" as the way that term is traditionally regarded), or maybe more specifically, in a subordinate position, is something that reinforces the power dynamics and leaves the perpetrator with no blame or recommendations for improvement. To address the real problem, those who choose to exploit their positions of power and the people around them who respect that power, is the only way to make a safe place not only for survivors but also future victims. If we criticize the ethics of JF, we are doing the right thing, because the power dynamics within the sexual teacher/student relationships he chose to engage in put the MAJORITY of the decision in his hands.
          Waylon, your words remind me of blaming victims of non-consensual sex because of their dress. I know you would never do something like that, so I ask that you only view your opinions through a different lens. One where power is exercised to coerce those in subordinate positions into sexual relationship they may have otherwise declined. I hope this helps shine some light on the situation for you, I intend only to encourage critical thinking and compassion.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:00pm

    Utter nonsense. John is a person like all of us and people make mistakes and errors in judgement for a variety of reasons, all the time. He admitted it unlike so many "Presidents" and I commend him for this. Time to stop worrying about gossip and get back to the practice – the practice is pure and is beyond any one teacher.

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:35am

      Yes ! Move on, people. We are ALL human. Accept your feelings about this matter, and as you have so simply stated, Michael, "the practice is pure and is beyond any one teacher".

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:49pm

    I absolutely agree with this…as a professor at university i have seen other profs having sexual relations with their adult students…this cannot be consensual because of the "power over" the student.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:17pm

I'm not sure why his entirely too large headshot is included. That's definitely pandering.
Is he the leader of the coven, Blazing Solar Flames, yes or no? Geez
way too fluffy

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:25pm

    I thought it would be good to get the sense of looking him in the face, life size. That is all. ~ Waylon

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:23pm

      pls delete my comment if you like. I re-read your interview and like it. I feel sick that I 'm getting caught up in this and that I have been believing that he is guilty w/o question. he obvs effed up but i do believe that this can perhaps be a big gift for him AND everyone involved.

      anonymous Feb 15, 2012 9:52am

      bad kiss-ass interview…bad as in terrible…

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:15pm

You know what i have to go mediate on? The fact that even though I am not an anusara fan (actually not a fan AT ALL) I am so ready to forgive him…yet if this was a sports figure or a politician I would be up in arms. Why do I want to forgive the yogi, when I feel we should be a cut above? it's a weird sensation… part of me goes…hey no big, the other part says — what??? this is not OK… this is just NOT OK…students? married? employees? I think I will just go have a glass of wine, cuddle with my husband and mull…a lot…thanks way for handling this so well, but I do ask everyone to think about how they react to this behavior in others? and should we hold ourselves to different standards?

I do agree that we should not throw out the teachings with the teacher — but you have to question the ethics standards when the leader is not adhering to them…a sad day for all.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:29pm

    that’s funny, I’m totally opposite: more willing to ‘forgive’ sleazy politicians but hold yogis to a higher standard. I’m not an Anusari either but feel this whole mess makes all our jobs harder… more fuel for the ‘told-you-so’ skeptics etc

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:00pm

    i'm with you arc, wtf?!

      anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:51pm

      i am curious – if the teacher does not exemplify the teachings, and has not been transformed or even guided into basic decency and integrity by them – please remind me why we shouldn't throw them out!?

      one of the problems here is a pretentious philosophy and rose colored world view that denies the shadow and doesn't really do substantive work on authenticity, deep process and sincere self awareness – while sheperding people together under the guidance of a charismatic leader who has the gift of the gab in terms of spinning people into an adoring trance with nonsensical metaphysics.

      this has always been the fruit of such cultish community architecture.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:01pm

I am a devoted Anusara student, but this entire situation has left me very skeptical of the leadership of Anusara (not the practice, the community, or my local teachers.) Unfortunately I do not feel that these questions were very "tough" at all. These seem like the most basic questions, just scratching the surface of the matters at hand. I would really like to see John address the CONTENT of the letters that were supposedly his, specifically the letter to the coven. That letter to me sounded like a long, rambling diatribe of an egocentric sociopath, who was admittedly lying to women. My take from that letter is that like many politicians, John was someone that was also corrupted by his power and used his position of power to manipulate and take advantage of women. Yes, the relationships were consensual. That does not mean there was not manipulation on his part. He admits himself to lying to several women at the same time. The overall tone of the letter was in my opinion one of a megalomaniac. It is my feeling that John allowed himself to be corrupted by his own power position and in that became so arrogant that he felt he could do anything he wanted, without repercussions. While I am happy to see that he is admitting to some things here, this was a given. He had to admit to those and pronounce a mea culpa. To me this is just lip service. Given what I saw in those documents, I have to question if he is fit to lead this organization, and whether or not I will be able to continue practicing with John.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:31pm

    Dear Anonymity is a Luxury I don't have,

    As I've said to John and his colleagues, and warned you our readers, John's answers and their forthrightness, detail and transparency—or lack thereof—are his responsibility. I only can control my own questions, and I ran them by skeptics before putting them forward. It was my goal, which apparently I've failed you in, to be forthright.

    As you may imagine, getting this much out during a time of legal threat took a ton of work.

    Waylon

      anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:23pm

      You did the best you could, Wayne. No fault on your part. It was the evasive answers that are so disappointing.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:03am

    You GO girl. Claim your yoga and denounce ALL gurus! Forget the teacher, remember the teachings.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:57am

    I agree with this comment. It seems that John, like many charismatic leaders, began to believe in his omnipotence. Teachers have left because of his unwillingness to let his students grow beyond him. He demanded unquestioning loyalty and obedience. He expected his teachers to feed and house him, serve him for free at his intensives, and give all their attention to his needs. He was unable to accept criticism or to allow other perspectives. He demanded that they pay him for products and services that they produce that have nothing to do with Anusara. I personally observed him playing to the audience of female students who thronged to him for attention. He thought everything was his to control. Like all of us, he has learned that everything is not within his control. I do think that there is a tremendous benefit to the Anusara form of practice; for the good of the Anusara practice, he should resign. But since he has made Anusara his personal "cult of personality" and chased away most of his heirs apparent, I suppose this is not possible. But that is the only thing that will remove the taint.

    anonymous Feb 12, 2012 3:24pm

    I feel your pain. My heart goes out to you. My take is that he is still one of the best hatha yoga teachings on the planet. I met JF in 1992 before Anusara was created I believe. I never really thought of him as a 'great guy' or anything like that. He's got many flaws as a person as we all do. He never came off to me as pious or evolved. I do not need him to be a great person, just a great hatha yoga teacher. I would never have followed his spiritual teachings but I sure as heck would utilize his skill for proper form and movement with yoga poses. I just wouldn't get to close.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 7:57pm

His answers say absolutely nothing. He should become a politician! He's really evoking sympathy with this written interview. Great PR for him at this point.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:08pm

    Thanks for your kind words.

    If it's transparent bullshit, not sure that's great PR.

    His forthrightness or lack thereof is his responsibility. I control my questions, that is all.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:21pm

    I wholeheartedly concur Mewmew. This could have been an interview with Mitt Romney for all the smooth talk and evasiveness it displayed. I understand JF has likely "lawyered up" but come on. Where is your integrity Mr. Friend?

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 7:49pm

Thanks for giving Mr. Friend some space to speak his peace. I'm sure it was a difficult interview to conduct. Thank you also for being able to detach yourself from gossip et al. That in itself it inspiring.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 7:48pm

[…] My interview with John Friend regarding jfexposed accusations. | elephant journal. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

Kate Bartolotta Feb 8, 2012 7:41pm

Definitely worth the wait! Thanks for doing this Waylon, and thanks to John Friend for answering all of them.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:51pm

    Thumbs up, Kate!

      Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 12:59pm

      ahahaha! Thanks! I love how people decide to randomly downarrow anything positive. I thought jr. high was over?

        anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:37pm

        People are down-arrowing because that appears to be the about the only way to call things for what they are. My comments were entirely removed. It's weird that the Anusara Tantric philosophy is that everything is good. Everything except for negative comments about John Friend and this "interview", that is.

        Try going to yogadork and you'll see what the general consensus is. She does not censor people over there.

          anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:21pm

          Exactly Jimmy. So much for open dialogue here. And sadly, the stuff being deleted is not that bad. Wonder how long our comments we be up.

            Kate Bartolotta Feb 10, 2012 3:55pm

            The only comments that get deleted are ones that are

            1. Slanderous
            2. Verbally violent and/or personal attacks (on anyone..JF included)

            It's great to debate and have different opinions. No one has to resort to using foul language or name calling to do that. It's tough with such an emotionally charged subject, but not impossible.

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

            Feel free to downarrow as much as possible though! have at it!

              anonymous Feb 10, 2012 4:56pm

              What a tool you are of Waylon.

                Kate Bartolotta Feb 10, 2012 6:28pm

                Hey!

                I'm also not anonymous, not making slanderous obscene comments, and know when to use the possessive. Apostrophe and "s" dude…embrace good grammar. And lighten up a bit too. With the time you've spent here trying to beat people down in the comments, you could have done something to be of benefit–on or offline.

                Have a wonderful day!

                ~ The non-anonymous, non-tool Kate Bartolotta

                  anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:43am

                  You're so patient with tools, Kate.

          anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:45am

          General consensus, Jimmy, expresses emotion. It does not always equal wisdom.

          As for deleting your comments, I may have done so…you can always repost anything you said minus the name-calling and it will stay up. We're fine with criticism–just not mean-ness. We're all about dialogue. Respectful dialogue.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 7:38pm

Very good, fair, & tough questions Wayne. While he is limited on what he can answer, at least he acknowledged his failures.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 7:32pm

From the pension documents.

"This Notice is being provided to you at least 15 days before the amendment's effective date."

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:26pm

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

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 8:44pm

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!

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:02pm

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

Kate Bartolotta Feb 8, 2012 9:19pm

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.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:42pm

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.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:59pm

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.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 9:48pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:05am

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…

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 4:57pm

I'm with you on this, Braja.

anonymous Feb 16, 2012 10:41pm

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

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:13pm

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.

anonymous Feb 16, 2012 10:37pm

Great points

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:24pm

amen sister

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:55am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:12am

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.

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 10:41pm

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

anonymous Feb 8, 2012 11:46pm

omg you said "bullshit" lol 😉

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:06am

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

:))

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:09am

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…

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:57am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:10am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:15am

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….

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:23am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:30am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:19am

Here here!

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 12:33am

I enjoyed that quite a bit!

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:05am

"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."

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:10am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:17am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:34am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:56am

Well said, Karl.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:21am

???

Chacun a son goùt :–)

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:31am

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 …)

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:44am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:22am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:44am

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

anonymous Feb 19, 2012 11:24am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:38am

Never better put.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 9:52am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:29am

Thanks!

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:39am

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:38am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:57am

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

Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 12:00pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:48pm

Hear, hear.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:06pm

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

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:31am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:32pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 1:42pm

so they toured an empty building?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:00pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:37pm

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:38pm

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.

Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 2:44pm

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!

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:24am

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.

Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 2:46pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 2:59pm

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?

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:15pm

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.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:47pm

"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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:06pm

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"

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 3:21pm

word.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:02pm

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

Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 3:43pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:33pm

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 4:35pm

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."

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:08am

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 5:24pm

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.

Kate Bartolotta Feb 9, 2012 6:03pm

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:50pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:01pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:45pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 6:56pm

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 7:10pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:18pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:20pm

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

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 8:42pm

Thanks for this post, so lovely and affirming.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:34am

very cool.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 10:53pm

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.

anonymous Feb 9, 2012 11:13pm

appreciating your voice kimberly.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 6:07am

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

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:15pm

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.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 12:29pm

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

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:20pm

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

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 1:25pm

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.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:02pm

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

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:05pm

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.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:19pm

well said.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 2:23pm

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.

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 4:25pm

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

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 5:22pm

"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."

anonymous Feb 10, 2012 9:19pm

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

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:20am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:48am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 12:52am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:00am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:06am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:09am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:10am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 3:00pm

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:19am

Really, VQ?

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:21am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:23am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:26am

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

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:34am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:49am

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

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 1:55am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:15am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:25am

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

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 4:43pm

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?

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 1:16pm

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!

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:32am

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.

anonymous Feb 11, 2012 2:52pm

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.

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 6:07pm

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

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 8:55pm

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.

anonymous Feb 12, 2012 11:04pm

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….

anonymous Feb 13, 2012 1:24pm

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.

anonymous Feb 14, 2012 8:18am

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.

anonymous Feb 19, 2012 12:05pm

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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