Sharath’s Statement on Pattabhi Jois’s Assaults: Context, Links, Notes

Context:

Sharath Rangaswamy Jois has posted an acknowledgement of harm committed by his grandfather to his Instagram account. The post features a photograph that has been used venerate Jois and highlight Sharath’s relationship to him for years.

The context I’d like to provide here is with respect to the women who made Sharath’s statement not only necessary, but possible, and whose names he does not mention.

Continue reading “Sharath’s Statement on Pattabhi Jois’s Assaults: Context, Links, Notes”

Shambhala Centre Will Rehang Devotional Pictures of Alleged Sexual Predator: Announcement Annotated

On June 19th, Myra Woodruff, the Executive Director of the Karmê Chöling retreat centre in Barnett, Vermont, sent an email to the centre’s mailing list. The email announces that the devotional portraits of Chogyam Trungpa and his son, Mipham Mukpo, will be reinstalled in the centre’s shrine rooms.

Karmê Chöling was founded by Trungpa in 1970. Initially named “Tail of the Tiger”, it was an early site for recruiting members and establishing the model of “land centers” through which Shambhala International has extended its assets. After dying of cirrhosis of the liver related to terminal alcoholism, Trungpa was cremated at Karmê Chöling in May of 1987. Continue reading “Shambhala Centre Will Rehang Devotional Pictures of Alleged Sexual Predator: Announcement Annotated”

Shambhala Centers Still Holding “Sealed” Retreats to Venerate a Leader Under Criminal Investigation

A New Year’s Eve email sent out from the Sky Lake Retreat Center of Rosendale, New York, invited qualified practitioners to attend a seven-day “sealed” retreat, beginning on February 23.

The event, named the “Monarch Retreat”, will be focussed on generating loyalty towards the spiritual “kingship” of the leader of Shambhala International, Mipham Mukpo, known as the “Sakyong”. Mukpo is the son and heir of the Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of the organization. In 1995, Mukpo was recognized as the reincarnation of Mipham the Great, a Tibetan philosopher, astrologer, and mystic who died in 1912.

This past July, Mukpo stepped down from his administrative leadership of Shambhala International amidst accusations of sexual assault published by Buddhist Project Sunshine. Mukpo has issued a vague apology for past behaviour, but he has since denied all criminal allegations through his lawyer. Continue reading “Shambhala Centers Still Holding “Sealed” Retreats to Venerate a Leader Under Criminal Investigation”

Pattabhi Jois Sexually Assaulted Men: Photo Evidence

Content warning: photos of sexual assault, below. 

This post is intended to facilitate access to the following already-available images, which will be cited in Practice and All is Coming: Abuse, Cult Dynamics and Healing in Yoga and Beyond (March 2019).

In the first photo, Pattabhi Jois is seen sexually assaulting a male practitioner in Supta trivikramasana. Jois is seen sexually assaulting Karen Rain in the same posture in a similar photo. The photo below was taken in the old Lakshmipuram shala, and so dates from before 2003.

In the second photo, Jois is seen assaulting a male practitioner in a forward fold. A source says that the photo was taken in 2003 in Encinitas.

The identities of the practitioners are unknown. They remain anonymous because their faces are hidden.

I’m posting with the awareness that the practitioners might dispute that the photographs depict sexual assault.

However: victim testimony alone does not define sexual assault. Other factors can include whether there was full consent, whether the alleged victim was capable of granting full consent at the time, whether the alleged victim was in a position or condition of submission, whether the contact was administered under the false premise of medical treatment, and whether there was a significant power imbalance between the alleged assaulter and the victim.

Karen Rain commented on these photos in a thread on Facebook:

I’ve heard a couple stories about P Jois sexually assaulting men, including one story of a male digital rape. I know that the AY community likes to say that what he did to women wasn’t sexual assault because he did the same thing to men. This is the most nonsensical argument. Imagine if we used that reasoning with priests: they did the same thing to young girls as they did to young boys, so therefore it isn’t sexual abuse(??). It’s important to understand that sexual abuse/assault is about power not about sex. Unfortunately, males are perhaps, even more than females or non-binary people, conditioned in ways that prevent recognition and disclosing of sexual assault. So much for the argument that P Jois was tempted by effusive, scantily clad western women.

If Jois’s sexual assaults on men were more difficult to recognize and disclose, this may have increased the tendency, especially among the senior male students, to ignore or rationalize assaults against women as well.

 

Jois assaulting male practitioner in Supta trivikramasana, before 2003.

 

Jois assaulting male practitioner in a forward fold position, Encinitas, 2003.

 

 

Maybe It Wasn’t the “Shambhala Teachings” That Changed Your Life: A Brief Note on False Attribution

Maybe It Wasn't the "Shambhala Teachings" That Changed Your Life

“But the Shambhala TEACHINGS are precious. They changed our lives. We CAN’T let them go. We HAVE to separate them from the organization and its leadership.”

This is the active-ingredient argument you may be hearing from some of your fellow community members. It’s based on the premise that beneath all of the human imperfections and “conventional realities” of Shambhala International, there was something essentially good and true communicated by Trungpa and his followers, and that that essence was what changed lives.

A further premise is that that essence can and should be isolated and mobilized.

Those who talk about the “essence” of the teachings are those who are still in one way or another within the learning community or high-demand group. They might believe that the essential teachings were universally clear; they could test this belief by asking those who left the group what they believed the teachings were. 

They would be also be the ones who would be least likely to consider the placebo effect of the teaching content. Continue reading “Maybe It Wasn’t the “Shambhala Teachings” That Changed Your Life: A Brief Note on False Attribution”

Why Reasoning with Jordan Peterson Fans Can’t Work, Or: Privilege is a Feeling State

Why Reasoning with Jordan Peterson Fans Can't Work, Or: Privilege is a Feeling State

So Nellie Bowles wrote this piece of magic.

Then former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro stayed up all night and sweated out this response.

My post here will avoid the content weeds to zero in on a single syntax transition that Shapiro made, and that somehow made it through editing. The indented graf is Bowles. The second sentence is a direct quote from Peterson. The second graf is Shapiro.

Read how the highlight connects them.

Slow down if you have to.

 
One more time, isolated:

Bowles: “[Peterson direct quote]” he said.

Shapiro: This is not what Peterson is saying. 

This freaked me out. I talked it through with my partner Alix to get clearer on it. Here’s what we explored together:

It never matters what Peterson said.

It matters what he’s saying.

As in: generally, and all the time. And most specifically (speaking as a Peterson devotee): right now, in my head, as my internal homunculus of reassurance.

Continue reading “Why Reasoning with Jordan Peterson Fans Can’t Work, Or: Privilege is a Feeling State”

“Deception, Dependence, and Dread” — via Michael Langone

Farber, Harlow, & West (1957) coined the term “DDD syndrome” to describe the essence of Korean war thought reform with prisoners of war: debility, dependency, and dread. Lifton (1961), who also studied thought reform employed in Chinese universities, demonstrated that the process did not require physical debilitation. Contemporary cultic groups, which do not have the power of the state at their disposal, have more in common with this brand of thought reform than with the POW variety, in that they rarely employ physical coercion. In order to control targets, they must rely on subterfuge and natural areas of overlap between themselves and prospects. As with all Korean era thought reform programs (those directed at civilians and at prisoners), however, contemporary cultic groups induce dependent states to gain control over recruits and employ psychological (sometimes physical) punishment (“dread”) to maintain control. The process, in my view, can be briefly described by a modified “DDD syndrome”: deception, dependency, and dread. Continue reading ““Deception, Dependence, and Dread” — via Michael Langone”

Talking about The Walrus Article on Jois with Colin Hall and Sarah Garden on Bodhi Talks Live

Talking about The Walrus Article on Jois with Colin Hall and Sarah Garden on Bodhi Talks Live

Resources:

Why We Don’t Listen to Trauma Survivors (the “Contagion” principle)

Why We Don't Listen to Trauma Survivors (the "Contagion" principle)
I had another in the series of revelatory conversations with my colleague Theodora Wildcroft the other day that have helped me at least begin to see why we don’t listen to trauma survivors. We don’t listen, ironically, even when we say we’re trying to listen to them. Even when we write articles about systemic harassment and enabling, when we host panels on the subject, when we write the think-pieces.
 
“We are contagious,” Theo said, “and those we speak to will suffer vicarious trauma. I can’t speak my truth without hurting other people.”
 

Continue reading “Why We Don’t Listen to Trauma Survivors (the “Contagion” principle)”

The Unbearable Smugness of “I Got Mine-ism” Amongst Cult and ex-Cult Members

The Smugness of "I Got Mine-ism" Amongst Cult and ex-Cult Members

I’ll preface this post by saying that, in accordance with the clinical research, I do not believe there are strong correlations between prior life experience and the likelihood that a person will join or stay in a cult (or “totalist”, or “high-demand” group.) What follows is a speculation, based on memory and anecdote, on why people who are already inside such a group may be more prone to the kind of enabling and moral harm that Facebook friend Joseph Teskey has described to me as “I got mine-ism” (IGM).

IGM is a defensive strategy by which a member who has not (or believes they have not) directly experienced abuse or institutional betrayal within the group deflects stories of abuse within the group by immediately self-referring, saying things like: “I don’t know about other’s experience; I find/found the teacher/teachings to be profoundly helpful in my life.” The statement is usually couched within an unwillingness to act on behalf on victims or mitigate future harm. Continue reading “The Unbearable Smugness of “I Got Mine-ism” Amongst Cult and ex-Cult Members”