It has been quite a few months since I learned that my primary Yoga teacher and founder of the Integral Yoga organization was not all that I thought, not the Holy man as I imagined him to be but a brilliant spiritual teacher with personal desires he did not resist.
I took time to process. Overcoming the doubt and listening to the voices of the women, I went through a period of re-triggered trauma from my past. I felt it all. I anguished over how women deserve better than the current society gives them. We deserve better than being treated like disposable pleasure objects. The upset slowly turned into grieving. The sadness of losing my ideal, my dream vision of a teacher whose teachings have guided me for the past 25 years like a rudder on my journey through life.
His teachings so clearly described an influencing force beyond an individual personality guiding us all. I have learned to trust that inner voice even more now. All anyone can really do for us is to point the direction in which to head. To acknowledge this independence and personal responsibility feels like growing up.
"I am always ready to help you. My sympathies are ever with you. I will radiate joy, peace and thought currents of love towards you. I will inspire you, but I cannot do the work for you. You yourself will have to do the work. The struggle and exertion must come from your side.” - Swami Sivananda
I recently had a powerful dream with Swami Satchidananda. I had my first dream with him when I was only 19, living in a freshly democratic post-communist Czech Republic. He taught me a Sanskrit chant before I knew there was Yoga or the Sanskrit language.
In this new dream just a couple weeks ago, he was in a new body of a young man. We spoke a little. I told him I missed his beard and he showed me his whiskers that are starting to grow under his jaw, not thick enough to grow a beard yet. I was lucid enough to remember my current life. I have been coordinating the San Francisco Integral Yoga teachers in writing a statement, finding a collective voice to share our concerns for the Integral Yoga organization and community which we all love. It was a gentle and loving request to the authorities for transparency, acknowledgment and open communication about the future. Remembering all that in my dream, nevertheless I felt fully accepted. Swami Satchidananda told me that he holds space for me among his most beloved. I cried and cried until I woke up. I felt so happy for this youth with this wonderful soul as he was just starting out his life. I wonder, will I meet him again before I die? I could recognize him. It is said that the bond between the teacher and student in Yoga continues on. I feel that to be true.
How can my heart/mind love and cherish a person and also be disappointed and appalled by their behavior?
Can I really understand? I have had a brush of experience with the luminous awareness and Divine presence. I understand that our "knowing" is just an approximation of the Real. Our mental perception of Truth is like squeezing the whole universe into the eye of a needle. We have to bear this human condition as best we can, mine, yours and our teacher's. I’m learning to rest in my heart and let compassion be my guide.
I acknowledge the pain and harm that Swami Satchidananda’s behavior has caused to many of the women he sexually interacted with and the harm done within our community by denying the truth or covering it up. I also acknowledge the Light and healing that he has brought into our lives. Holding both of these points of view at the same time in all honesty also feels like growing up
This Magnificent Refuge
This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble.
Put away the incense
and forget the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads
to the invisible path
that leads you home.
by Theresa of Avila