Thank you for your letter yesterday. I hear your general apology for your sexual indiscretions and believe it is sincere. Good luck to you in maintaining your resolve to no longer have sexual relationships with married women and no longer have multiple girlfriends at the same time. Should the temptation occur in the future, your commitment at this time may be hard to keep, so I wish you the clarity and fortitude to stick with your intention.
Unfortunately the letter doesn’t go nearly deep enough to look at the real teacher-student power issues that have been uncovered since the Yoga Dork/JF Exposed disclosures. Leaving it as if it is mainly a sexual indiscretion issue allows too many of your students and teachers to go into denial about the magnitude of the problems still unaddressed by this letter. There are problems that have arisen from the fact that Anusara is a very successful business, where there are thousands of dollars at stake through your patronage or lack thereof. Some concerns that weren’t addressed in your letter are the other misuses of power have been outlined by numerous people online including Amy Ippoliti, Christina Fronsolo Sell, and Bo Srey to name a few.
I experienced these issues firsthand also as described in my article where I talk about how you came to Los Altos and first strong-armed the studio owner and co-teacher into accepting your coven-mate into the Immersion that was going to happen as a solo teacher event, and then you participated in blocking a teacher training at one studio in support of a teacher training in another studio given by this same member of your coven (of which I had no knowledge until the recent disclosure). At the time what was happening in Los Altos seemed to be an isolated incident and it was very confusing. I directly confronted the teachers involved, and as you know, you and I had a lengthy email correspondence where I outlined my perspective on why I saw this as unfair. This was after you had come to my local community and lectured about a “new paradigm” where there would be “cooperation” and “mutual assistance” and “abundance” for all rather than competition. On February 12, 2012, I wrote you a private email asking for an apology (which I copied to the then Interim Committee members) after you had asked people from the community to let you know their concerns. I never heard a response. I know you have a lot on your mind and this request isn’t of primary importance to me in writing this letter. In my email I wrote that obviously you were going though a lot right at that time and perhaps, you thought that my complaint was a trivial one. I offered my concerns to you with all sincerity and with the hope that you would truly do some soul searching during the coming months. I included the email thread to refresh your memory because I felt a bit bullied in the process of communicating with you, and now I have been hearing more and more evidence that this is the way you operate. In your letter I see no indication that you have any regret for the ways your showing favoritism has impacted numerous programs throughout the Anusara world, costing some teachers, studios and their programs tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.
The other concern I have that wasn’t addressed in your letter, which I have seen clearly talked about in the internet (by Elena Brower, most ardently) is that you had people close to you lie, cover-up, create written rationalizations, and forced people to betray to themselves in other ways such as blacklisting and excluding friends and teachers that fell out of favor with you. In other words you ask students and friends to betray themselves in order to be loyal or close to you. I was told by a “friend” of yours that you did this even as recently as after this scandal unfolded. I don’t think this is the way friends should show their loyalty and friendship, but apparently it has been a fairly common request from you.
In moral development theory, the levels of development can be broken down into 3 major categories. For men it progresses from being selfish to rights (for friends, family, country) to universal rights. For women it progresses from being selfish to caring (again for friends, family and country) to universal caring. As I see it, the risk of Anusara moving forward without addressing these moral dilemmas is that it will be an organization that covers selfish motives with talk of universal rights and universal caring. One of my friend’s cruder descriptions of this covering up of baser motives with these wonderful ideas (love, bliss and universality) is “putting whipped cream on shit”. I believe your “New Paradigm” model is in the Universal Rights category, but won’t work when there is someone who can violate this free trade idea with selfish motives (or maybe even rights/caring motives for their “family” or close friends and favorites). It just becomes business as usual!
The teachers staying on in Anusara have been very silent with few disclosures about their processing of this crisis, so the statements that follow are based on very little information. It appears that staying loyal and keeping their opinions close at hand is still operational for these teachers as a norm. I think the issue for many of the women teachers that have stayed on with Anusara is based on this moral level of caring. Women have great difficulty looking at and deciding about morality outside of a web of relationships and concerns about connection. As long as they can feel the powerful love energy that Anusara can create in a classroom, and as long as they feel you have been mistreated they will have a hard time looking clearly at the evidence and making a balanced decision whether to stay or go. For the male teachers the lack of evidence to anything worse than screwing around will allow them to see your rights as important as those anyone else. After all, the women were all over the age of 21, so they made their own decisions. The issue of you being in a non-traditional spiritual group will be seen as part of your rights to practice the religion of you choice if people don’t see it as an avenue for power brokering and nepotism. So as I see it, unless you come clean about all your abuses of power, plus release these remaining teachers from needing to stay and protect you and your business, none of those students who remain actually will be able to stay from their deepest place in their hearts and minds.
My third concern is with your use and misuse of the former Ethics Committee to conduct personal vendettas or to protect those you had in your inner circle.
I know of one incident that meets this criteria directly. In addition to making use of the committee in this way, you told someone outside of the committee (in your coven) the results of your (its?) decision, which was sent to me in a personal email. This is highly improper behavior for the head of an ethics committee. In keeping with these ethical concerns, I have not named anyone in this letter who hasn’t addressed these issues in the public domain, but I know you know what I am talking about.
I find it ironic that when you visited my Immersion you gave a brief lecture on Saucha (purity). I can only imagine that you and the Goddess have co-created this set of circumstances so that you can really Grok purity in it’s deepest form. I have looked at where my motives in writing this letter may be impure, I think there is a bit of wanting to get the last word in. I still think what I have to say is of value to you and the community at large and I hope that value will outweigh any taint from this impurity.
I have little doubt that Anusara will live on and become a successful business again. Maybe not as much as before, but who knows? You may rise again to be an extremely successful workshop leader. Many people are comfortable not looking at the issues of morality and will be comfortable with Anusara even if no deep ethical or moral changes occur.
I feel the greatest compassion for you as you go through this process, as it will no doubt be extremely painful if you truly take this opportunity for deep self inquiry. Anusara is a great creation. Finding true wholeness without inflation could be an even greater creation.
With all sincerity,
Michelle Indianer, D.O.
For a more complete overview on what’s been happening, please visit: Anusara Controversy: Overview and Timeline