Category Archives: Random

Resources page updated

The resources page has been updated to add a new support group that an ex-member recommended. It is worth noting that many of the women who were abused by Kruckman at The Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza are still in therapy four years after leaving. The remaining senior members of the ashram continue to refuse to acknowledge that anything happened and prefer to lie to new recruits, claiming that they are the victims of a conspiracy.

Professional Services & Support

 

What might have been…

The following is an interesting article about how a Buddhist community in New York dealt with the issue of sexual misconduct by one of their senior Lamas (the Buddhist equivalent of a Swami). Of particular interest to ex-members of the Sri Nityandanda Ashram in Mount Eliza are the details of how their management committee handled the issue:

“KTC secured the services of An Olive Branch, a non-profit organization that facilitates restoration of organizational health to a variety of clients, especially around issues of clergy misconduct.

Our board of trustees hired external consultants to prepare for and lead a disclosure meeting to our community. During that meeting we invited input from the sangha about how best to move forward, and we have distilled those suggestions into a strategic plan that emphasizes more communal decision-making, better communication, and increased transparency in our organization.

Our goal is to acknowledge what happened, adopt ethical standards of behavior to prevent reoccurrence and to heal our community.”

If the Sri Nityananda Ashram (at the time called The Shiva Ashram) had also had a management committee worthy of the name rather than simply a gang of Kruckman’s most hardcore devotees, then our Satsang might also have engaged in a similar ethical and transparent process of inquiry into what had actually occurred and the community may have even come out better for it.

Instead, they decided to white wash the issue, acting like it never happened, and engaging in character assassination of the female victims and other long serving ex-members. They are still sticking to this program to the present day, more brazenly than ever.

Article linked below:

Kagyu Thubten Choling addresses sangha about Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s sexual misconduct with students

Holy Hell

Out now on Netflix:

holy_hell

If you can actually stomach this film until the end, the underlying similarities to what happened at the Shiva Yoga ashram in Mount Eliza (now calling itself The Sri Nityananda Ashram) are uncanny.

Book added to Recommended Reading section

TN_Shaw

Daniel Shaw is the current admin of the Leaving Siddha Yoga website and his book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation was developed from an earlier essay entitled Traumatic Abuse in Cults which he wrote after leaving Siddha Yoga. Due to his personal familiarity with Siddha Yoga and consequently Shiva Yoga and it’s leaders (which is an offshoot of Siddha Yoga), his book is highly recommended. Available on Amazon.com, excerpt from Chapter 3 below:


“For those not familiar with cult phenomena, it can be quite astonishing to learn how exactly similar from group to group the relational dynamics of leader and follower are, regardless of how outwardly different the group, its ideology, leaders and followers, may be. The following are some of the most common dynamics:

1. Purification of “ego.”  The follower’s deficiencies are grouped under the umbrella of “the ego,” the “monkey mind,” or a similar idea using different words, which is regarded as a harmful appendage or blockage of the true self, and which must therefore be “purified” by the leader for the follower to reach her potential. Purification in the case of cults typically means being subjected to various forms of sadistic belittling and humiliation, including in some cases accepting beatings. Purity may also be judged by one’s willingness to give over most of any money one might have; and/or willingness to be subjected to sexual abuse. Leaders do not have to be grateful for anything they are given or for anything they take from followers – when taking, the leader is understood to actually be giving. George Orwell (1949) identified this sort of mental gymnastics as “Doublethink” and “Newspeak” in 1984, his vision of a world ruled by Stalin-like leaders.

2. Only Perfection is Good Enough. One’s “potential” is defined in any way the leader chooses, but in one form or another, cult leaders are always demanding perfection, in the form of devotion, loyalty, willingness to obey, and willingness and ability to recruit others. By demanding perfection, the leader makes it impossible for the follower to fully succeed at anything, including devotion, and therefore it is impossible for the follower to avoid the leader’s abusive criticism. The follower’s status can be raised, at least temporarily, when he demonstrates his willingness to act, abusively and criminally if need be, in accordance with the principle that whatever end is specified by the leader always justifies any means.

3. Incessant Urgency. The more successful and powerful a particular cult becomes, the greater the risk of public exposure, and therefore, the more urgent and hysterical the culture becomes. Anxiety mounting, the leadership of the group becomes more shameless and without boundaries, demanding more and more time, money and energy of the followers, defining enemies of the group to eventually include anyone not in the group, and becoming increasingly punitive of deviance within the ranks.

4. Violation of Boundaries as a Norm. As followers discover that no effort they make is ever good enough to earn the leader’s full recognition, or to make them exempt from the leader’s destructive attacks, they become more and more desperate to please the leader, becoming willing to let down their own boundaries, and to violate the boundaries of others at the leader’s behest.

5. Inner Deviance Must Be Eradicated. Ultimately, followers act on the belief that only the leader’s thoughts and feelings matter and have validity, and the follower must exist only to serve the leader’s aims. The follower actively seeks to negate any aspect of his own subjectivity which the leader might disapprove of.

6. Defend the Leader No Matter What. To most outside observers, the leader’s aims are clearly nothing more than self-aggrandizement. Insiders, however, in spite of little or no evidence on which to base their assertions, cling stubbornly to the belief that the leader is actually pursuing lofty and noble aims. Asked to do anything to enrich the leader, including, in the case of some notorious groups, prostituting themselves, followers obey and find a way to believe that whatever they do is righteous. By remaining loyal to the leader, the followers persuade themselves that their own existence is given meaning and validity by their support of the leader’s mission.

A cult then can readily be understood as a variant of the traumatizing narcissist’s relational system, in which the leader presents herself as the living embodiment and ultimate master of the principles of her own ideology. Her mission and her ideology are formalized in ways that will vary in the details from one group to another. The group’s goals frequently shift, are proclaimed to the followers with grandiose pomposity, and are often connected to a demand for payment for the privilege of being granted access to the esoteric wisdom. The unstated and disavowed actual goal of any group led by a traumatizing narcissist is for the leader to keep herself in a state of narcissistic hyper-inflation; and the actual job of the follower is to do whatever it takes to help the leader to achieve that aim.

Followers in cults are traumatized in various ways by the different kinds of abuses they are exposed to as they accept the leader’s control over them. Abuse in these situations typically includes intimidation, belittling and humiliation, and more concretely, severe overwork and deprivation of sleep and proper nutrition. The follower’s rewards, which are recognition from the leader and the ensuing prestige they gain within their group, are bestowed and rescinded at the leader’s whim, keeping the follower in a state of instability and fear about displeasing the leader and thereby losing status and favor.

What is often most traumatic for followers who leave cults is the realization that what led them to blind themselves to the sadistic cruelty and the selfishness of the traumatizing narcissist leader was how desperately hungry they became – how willing they became to abandon their own subjectivity and allow themselves to be violated – for any bit of recognition they could get from the leader they idealized. One of the reasons why many of the people who leave cultic groups choose not to identify their own experience as abusive is because to do so would mean acknowledging an extraordinary degree of grief over the loss of a deeply cherished idealized attachment, connected to their most cherished hopes about themselves and about life; along with the unleashing of an extraordinary degree of shame about their own self-deception and gullibility; and shame and rage about the amount of abuse they were willing to endure for the sake of maintaining their tie to the leader. Eventually, the realization that their devotion and labor in the group led to no real personal growth, and to no significant contribution to society, will also become a source of deep shame and regret.”

New document added to resources

Integrative Psychology in Melbourne recently released a detailed document that reviews the treatment options for people that are recovering from high-control abusive groups like Shiva Yoga (Mount Eliza Ashram), entitled “Recovery from Church, Institutional and Cult Abuse: A Review of Theory and Treatment Perspectives.”

Some of the chapters discuss the common characteristics of abusive groups and how they operate, the characteristics of cult leaders as well as a review of effective exit counseling options. It is highly recommended reading for ex-members of Shiva Yoga (Mount Eliza Ashram). You can access it here and from the resources page:

Recovery from Church, Institutional and Cult Abuse

 

Two new documents uploaded

Integrative Psychology in Melbourne has kindly sent in two more documents to add to our resources section. The first explains in detail the psychology of the charismatic leader and is highly recommended reading. The second outlines the process of exit counselling for those who feel they might be in need of that kind of professional support after leaving Shiva Yoga. You can view them by clicking on the links below:

The charismatic leader fact sheet

Exit counselling for former members of cults and other abusive groups for clients

“Cult leaders can exhibit problems with impulse control (otherwise referred to as acting out). This acting out normally takes a number of forms, the most common of which are sexual and physical abuse. This behavior is often known only to a select few yet when it is publicly known complex explanations are offered… Thus there is often a claim to a special kind of teaching; this is particularly the case in sexual exploitation…” – Integrative Psychology

“It is well-known that our lineage is a Tantric path, involving worship of the Goddess with strict disciplines. Swamiji has never claimed to be a sexual renunciant nor demanded celibacy from any of his students, and until now Swamiji has kept aspects of the teaching and his personal activities secret in line with age-old Hindu Tantric scriptures.” – Stephen & Vani on behalf of the Management Committee, Shiva Yoga Inc.

You decide.