I have a story to tell, but, you may not wish to read it. It is not filled with juicy gossip, and it is not filled with details of who did what with whom, when and where.
I am not going to name any names. I am not going to tell you my opinion of what John Friend did. I am not going to give you all of the slanderous details from an insider’s perspective, because though I considered myself to have been an insider, though I have known John Friend since 1993, though I have been with Anusara since its inception, though I have served on all the major committees, though I had unlimited access to John, I knew nothing of what he did with his free time. I liked it that way. That kept me totally open to him as a student. That kept our relationship on solid ground.
Anusara Yoga ® was founded on a vision of intrinsic goodness. This vision is rooted in ancient wisdom. This vision is the heart and soul of the method. It taught hundreds of thousands of people to look for goodness and beauty first before they see problems, difficulties, darkness or criticism. It taught hundreds of thousands of people to give others the benefit of the doubt first, and ask questions second. It taught hundreds of thousands of students worldwide to see the highest essence in their friends, family members and people they meet; to consider contributing goodness and beauty to the world they live in. To me, that has a lot of value.
Does this vision have a dark side?
Yes, clearly it does. It is also, unfortunately, what allowed for the great cosmic amnesia that so many who considered themselves close friends of John’s to know nothing at all of his activities.
The vision of intrinsic goodness also teaches us that every single being without exception, is born holy and good. Your true nature, your truest nature, the deepest, truest, highest essence of who you are, who John is, who we all are—is intrinsically, absolutely and undeniably good. Before and beyond what you have done or not done, what you have said or not said, who you have been or not been, your true and truest and deepest nature—in essence—is good.
Some may call me naïve, but I still believe this vision.
In spite of the clearest evidence on the planet of evil, malice, atrocious, dehumanizing violence, systematic genocide, in spite of what we came to find out about John, I still believe that his true nature and mine and yours—in essence—is intrinsically good. Each of us has the power to choose to align, act and express that goodness. We also have the power to choose to misalign from that vision. This choice is operating at all times and in all places. This choice is our one true freedom.
Rooted in the vision of intrinsic goodness, every single one of us has the power to make right all the wrongs that we have created in our own lives; quell our own hungry ghosts; heal our own deep fractures, and live our own great worthiness. This is the story of John I wish to remember, because it was John who taught me this vision. For that, I have the deepest and highest, unending and eternal gratitude.
Some may call me naïve, or say “I drank the Kool-Aid”. But as the daughter, grand-daughter and niece of Holocaust survivors, I consider my conviction in this belief to be the triumph of a lifetime and the healing of a generation. Do we still hold people accountable for their misaligned actions if we believe this vision? You bet we do. Did I get angry when I came to realize that many of the salacious allegations were true? You bet I did. Did I resign my longstanding status as a certified teacher? Yes, I did. Am I going back? Not sure. What I am sure of is that I hold open the door for people to return to wholeness and integrity. Even in his exposure, John is still teaching us these lessons. I plan to choose this time to realign with my own deepest, truest essence; to heal the pain I have caused; to make amends to and with the people I have hurt; and live the greatness that I was born for. I respectfully invite us all to consider doing the same.
Prepared by Soumyajeet Chattaraj/Edited by Tanya L. Markul
Deborah Neubauer , Former Certified Anusara Instructor & E-RYT 500 has been a nationally and internationally recognized yoga teacher for over two decades. After graduating with a BS in Social Theory and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Deb went on to study and train intensively with many of the world’s foremost authorities in Yoga and Meditation including BKS, Geeta and Prashant Iyengar, John Friend, and Paul Muller – Ortega PhD. In 1993, Deb began intensive study with John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga ® and became the 16th teacher to become certified in Anusara ® Yoga. Deb has been on teaching faculty at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has taught health and fitness corporate classes, has assisted scientific studies for measuring the impact of yoga on health and fitness, has helped to develop medical protocol for the treatment of structural injuries with Yoga and is a regular contributor to many health and fitness blogs. Deb leads yoga and transformational/empowerment seminars both nationally and internationally. For more information about Deb and her events, please visit her website here or here. You can also take yoga classes with Deb on-line here.