Do you need a guru? Why do we glorify yoga teachers and spiritual leaders? Why do major sexual assault scandals and criminal acts within the yoga world break every few months now? On a smaller scale, everyday yoga studios, teacher trainings, and yoga-based communes/communities suffer from wrongdoing, which stems from yoga’s fractured relationship with hierarchy.
The amount of foot kissing, Instagram idealizing, lack of critical thinking, and readiness to submit to authority figures in the yoga world is embarrassing. Where does the attitude come from? A quick look at the history of yoga will provide that answer. India’s history is one of oppressive caste systems, where escaping one’s social class remained almost impossible. Yoga stood as a main instrument of control for the caste system. The rich grew in mind, body, and spirit, and had a massive advantage over the lower classes with their knowledge of yoga. Even worse, monks in ashrams and shalas held back information from the public, as they viewed them as a mindless horde of sheep. Plus, the government permitted them to exist in exchange for their knowledge.
The classic Hatha, Raja, and Bhakti yoga traditions remain as some of the most significant personal development systems ever created. However, throughout time individuals have manipulated the unlimited potential of this tradition to attain sex, money, power, fame, and other dumb pursuits. The yoga world asks for more hierarchy in terms of government, abusive relationships, and playing into capitalist traps on Instagram. Instead, the power of yoga can help us attain the strength to start to deconstruct hierarchy.
Yoga’s Largest Threat
Confronting yoga’s broken relationship with hierarchy, requires every yogi to examine themselves, and become self-reliant hue-man beings on a mental, spiritual, and physical level. Yet, our subconscious refuses that process, as deconstructing and understanding one system of authority, will lead an individual to question government, religion, family, norms, personal relationships, and other authoritative systems with no basis in reality. The process of breaking from these structures has existed as an advanced challenge for Truth seekers since the dawn of civilization.
This series will systematize a process to analyze and deconstruct authority figures/structures, which will enable the yogi community to make more competent choices. Why spend a lifetime bowing down to something that doesn’t even exist. Authority and hierarchy do not exist in objective reality, and in subjective reality they can be destroyed in an instant by an individuals mind.
Yoga’s relationship with authority, hierarchy, and power, remains the number one threat to the integrity of the tradition. Hierarchy and authority are rooted in a belief those on the upper rung of the hierarchical ladder, possess the moral right to tell those lower on the rung what to do, and those individuals have a moral obligation to follow that authority. Most yogis don’t bow down and kiss a guru’s feet; however, it’s very common for modern yogi’s to project idealizations onto studio teachers or online yoga figures. These projections throw an individual down the same dangerous authoritative funnel as
Casual Factors of Yoga’s Guru Problem
This series will analyze from every angle, track on a historical level, and offer solutions to yoga’s troubled relationship with hierarchy. Starting from the axiomatic root of authority, each article and video will deconstruct the casual factors of issues such as
The history of yoga and hierarchy.
How modern yoga’s emphasis on asana creates a perfect environment for a guru and cult mentality to manifest.
How the opening of the spirit and mind through meditation and pranayama create a room of hyper-suggestible individuals.
The anti-intellectual movement in yoga.
How veganism creates more hierarchy and conflict within the yoga world.
The lack of critical thinking systems in eastern thought.
Our relationship with government, religion, economy, and personal relationships..
The root and need for authority.
Abandonment issues relation to the need of hierarchy.
Social Media’s attack on self-esteem, and how it plays into Guru culture.
Male Psychology and the idealization of the female guru/yoga teacher.
Feminine Psychology and the idealization of the male guru/yoga teacher.
Plus many other casual factors!
A New Synergized Philosophy of the Guru
The reason for such a massive series derives from the lack of free and even paid information online about this topic. Netflix documentaries, news articles, and survivor horror stories don’t scratch the surface of the problem. Exploiting our desire for entertainment, these forms sell out and blame a few bad apples, instead of helping to show yoga’s whole structure is the root of the issues.
The yoga world’s lack of academic and creative work is astonishing. What great novelist, artist, or intellectual calls themselves a yogi? Is our Paradise Lost the horde of untrained shitty Instagram yogi poet’s writing bad verse and getting complimented for it?? This great artist will not be a modern simulacra yogi, but one who has been involved with yoga for decades, and calls it the axiomatic basis of their philosophy. None come to mind.
The anti-intellectual nature of yoga, which thrives off experience, creates an environment where occulting knowledge becomes easier. It also thrives on creating an environment where left brain thinking is shunned. The skeleton of great pieces of art stem from intuition and right brained thinking, but the revision, application of detail, and ability to commit to creating great art comes from the left brain.
Philosophy, psychology, critical theory, sociology, statistics, economics, neuro-science, and personal development texts will be the primary source material for this series.
The works of
Post-Modern Deconstructionists (Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Paul De Man, Guy Debord)
Classic Philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus, Spinoza)
German Idealists (Georg Hegel, Joseph Schelling, Jakob Bohme, Immanuel Kant)
Vienna Circle Psycho-analytical thinkers – (Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich)
Modern Psycho-analytical thinkers (Julian Jaynes, Erich Fromm, Alice Miller, Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Bly, James Hillman, Robert A. Johnson, Joseph Campbell)
Continental Philosophers – (Martin Heidegger, Arthur Schopenhauer, Jean Paul Satre, Nietzsche)
Communist and Anarchistic Economists and Thinkers (Karl Marx, John Keynes, Murray Rothbard, Hans Herman Hoppe, Noam Chomsky)
This list is just a start! Through the series I will draw on hundreds of examples from authors to show anecdotal, critical, literary, and scientific evidence of yoga and society’s broken relationship with hiearchy.
Giving Praise to the Early Navigators
Thousands of texts on cults, hierarchy, and other related matters already exist. Post-modernism, post-structuralism, semiotics, and other modern forms of critical theory, attempt to destroy and examine hierarchical power structures on large (economy, ethical standards, etc.) and small scales. (Zizek on toliets) – However, at the time of writing this, only three texts to my knowledge exist, that perform an in-depth analysis of yoga’s relationship with power.
The first, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power written by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, will serve as the foundational text of this course. The start of the series will entail chapter by chapter breakdowns of the book, and creative theory stemming from the revelations found. As this text is thirty years old, the central thesis will be re-applied to new phenomena’s such as social media yoga, large sexual scandals, and the rise in yoga’s popularity. I would recommend this book to anyone, and would be a great help to anyone trying to get the full experience out of this series!
The following text is Matthew Remski’s Practice and All is Coming: Abuse, Cult Dynamics, and Healing in Yoga and Beyond. First of all, I would not recommend this text, as the $35 price tag functions as an apparent attempt to exploit the lack of material for those seeking answers to their fragmented reality caused by the scandal. This text examines the scandals involved in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system, the manipulation tactics used, tells survivor’s stories, and offers solutions to the problems plaguging the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. However, the text fails to perform an advanced analysis of the power structures of yoga/Ashtanga, and resorts to antecedence stories, common sense solutions, blaming/complaining, and other weak tactics.
If you are dying to read this text, remember, all information is free, if you know the right places to look… 🙂
The third text is by one of my favorite asana teachers, Matthew Sweeney. His book, “The Relationship Between Asana & Yoga” is availble for free at this link here
Matthew’s book main critique revolves around modern yoga’s over-emphasis on asana, and calls for a more holistic approach to yoga by adding Gesalt psychology, Buddhism, a deeper practice of the other seven limbs of yoga, and other systems of critical thinking. I agree with this approach, as without knowledge of essential methods of thinking, and western occult traditions, yoga won’t help an individual achieve a complete vision of spirituality and the world. However, Matthew scratches the surface with his book. But, his central thesis will be continued in this course.
Feel free to email me any ideas, suggestions, or books that will help me in creating this course. If you want to hop on a podcast or video and co-create content I will be more than happy to do it with you! Just email me on the contact button.
My goal is to complete this series by the end of 2020, and have all the videos and articles free and available to download in PDF, MP3, and MP4 (Video) format.