Gurus Gone Wild - The Yogi Bhajan Revelations Part 1

I'd heard rumors for years, that Yogi Bhajan had had affairs with the women on his staff and had also participated in shady business dealings. I never dismissed it out of hand but it seemed as if everyone else did, so I started a personal collection of red flags. There was an immense incongruity here. After all, Yogi Bhajan had gifted us with a system so sophisticated and powerful that it took your breath away. Sometimes literally! From my perspective his public persona was so majestic and congruent with what he was teaching that I couldn't imagine him being any different behind the scenes. That all changed in 1999 when I had encouraged a student to attend women's camp. She called me to report, "He wants me to work for him." "That's great," I said. "Go for it." "You don't understand. He wants me to be his mistress." After a moment of speechless shock, I said, "Just leave right away." Just in case this person was misrepresenting her experience, I called a friend on Yogi Bhajan's staff and recounted what went down. Without missing a beat she confirmed her own sexual encounters with Yogi Bhajan. Within a day I left 3HO behind and haven't looked back. It was one of the most liberating decisions of my life. In retrospect, in turns out that there were two types of people in the 3HO community: those in the inner circle who had full knowledge of the corruption and contributed to it, and "squares" like me, who were dedicated to the Kundalini Yoga teachings and lifestyle.

Recently, a book was published entitled Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage. It chronicles the experiences of Pamela Sarah Dyson (Premka) as she met Yogi Bhajan in 1970 and helped him to build the 3HO Organization. Some of what she describes in the book is a sexual relationship with Yogi Bhajan. The book is well written and has a ring of truth that makes it difficult to dispute her allegations. Pamela's revelation inspired others to come forward and now what we see is a pattern of behavior by Yogi Bhajan that can only be described as serial or possibly even predatory.

What's up with yoga in America?!! The list of fallen yogis encompasses every major style. These include:

John Friends
Amrit Desai
Swami Muktananda
Swami Satchidananda
Swami Rama
Pattabhi Jois
Sai Baba
And now Yogi Bhajan.

How did so many of us let ourselves be lead down the primrose path? Of course we were sincere in answering our soul's longing for spiritual development but what we didn't realize was that we may have been unintentionally sidestepping painful feelings of the past. After all, left to our own devices, who wants to go rooting around in the cellar when we're being invited to go frolicking in the light and air. Without knowing it, we became ripe for the picking by prurient pied pipers.

What no one taught us in school is that we need to walk in the mud before we walk in the light. That means that until we integrate our shadow we will be susceptible to others who have sidestepped their own. We were born innocent but we stay innocent at our peril. To learn to contend in a predatory universe doesn't mean that we need to become predators ourselves. It means we need to make ourselves savvy and strong.

If you look at all of this through a long lens one piece of the puzzle may be the trickster archetype. Spiritual history is awash with Spiritual prodigies who played us as the Universe played them. The list includes: Gurdjieff, Madame Blavatsky, Carlos Castaneda, and Yogi Bhajan. These people were spiritual prodigies who could've been World Teachers if their fatal flaws didn't get in the way. Their spiritual IQ's were off the charts and what came through them was real, and may have even surprised them. Unfortunately, their emotional IQ's were lacking. It could be said that they never finished their Training. The great lesson is that if you are going to be bigger than life then only impeccability will do. The trickster operates with the conceit that the rules don't apply to them. They are gods and yet all too human. They rebel against authority, poke fun at the buttoned up world, create convoluted schemes that often lead nowhere, manipulate the laws of the universe and prove to be their own worst enemy. They exist to question and cause us to question. They show up when world views become outmoded and need to be revamped. The Trickster lives inside and outside time. The Trickster is a creator, a joker, a truth teller, a storyteller, a transformer linked to the "change of the age," all to ultimately goad us on to higher frequencies.

There are many parallels between the life and work of Yogi Bhajan and Carlos Castaneda, a definite Trickster type. Carlos Castaneda was an anthropology student at UCLA in the early 1960's who went to Mexico to study peyote use in the cultures of Yacqui native people. His books chronicle his apprenticeship with Don Juan, a "man of knowledge." It's commonly agreed upon that Castaneda's books are more fiction than non-fiction but what comes through is beautiful, elegant, transcendent, and profound. It's obvious that the Universe was writing through him to give us a powerful gift at exactly the right time.Carlos Castaneda lived in LA (and
actually participated in a White Tantric course in the early 70's) and was a very problematic person. In spite of that, his books and the energy / exercise system (Tensegrity) he crafted are masterful.

In light of the current revelations, many people are saying, "Well, if Yogi Bhajan was bogus, then Kundalini must be bogus." That's a fallacious argument. Kundalini Yoga exists in the continuum of All Yoga and doesn't begin or end with Yogi Bhajan. We will take what we find useful, close up our ranks, and move forward fearlessly. I think it's safe to say that if Yogi Bhajan was to some extent "playing" us, the Universe was playing him. Somehow, someway, what has been delivered to us is the most powerful, pure, and timely technology every gifted to humankind.

If these revelations around Yogi Bhajan are new to you and you had an expectation or investment in his infallibility you can expect to transition through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We've heard from people in each of these stages and all we can say is that this drama is quite poignant. If any of us had built our ontological house of cards on Yogi Bhajan's infallibility then we needed a wake up call anyway. Kundalini Yoga has been liberated from those who tried to define its parameters and use. Now it belongs firmly to the people who practice it and as long as we practice it and embody it, no one can take it away from us again.