The magic of spiritual growth through psychological healing, creates consciousness expansion and an increased ability to love.
The spiritual truth that all life’s circumstances come to teach me what I need on my journey towards Self realization makes it possible to live in the world, and not get too overwhelmed by the darkness.
The most recent trigger was finding out that a former yoga teacher has been spreading vicious lies about me, slandering my personal and professional reputation. This is someone I liked and with whom I studied for nine years, four to five times a week.
It took time to remove myself, to go underneath the hurt and betrayal. I had to look at the defensiveness that came up, a childish need to prove that the accusations are false, when in reality there is nothing to prove.
The essence of abuse is that the perpetrator has to justify the harm they do, which creates projection onto the victim. In this case, I was the victim of slander, but as an adult there is no need to accept another person’s filth. This is the reason I need to look deeper. Children are not emotionally equipped to resist these projections; they have to accept the lies. I needed to go back and look at my childhood, to find clarity about the situation in the present.
I was so vilified in my childhood, I have always had a strong need to prove that I’m good, as though deep down I weren’t.
The recent work on myself is moving me beyond that compulsion and curing me from the anger that hid behind the acceptance of negative projections. This anger was intense. It was a problem my entire adult life. On the one hand, I would adopt a negative projection from someone I gave power. My guilt complex would have me take on their burden, and I would feel in some way that I am bad, or that I am to blame, or whatever it was, deep down, while I tried to defend myself on the surface. This made me appear guilty of something, and anyone prone to project used this to presume the worst. On the other hand, my anger would flare up, but not to the unkind souls who saw me in a negative light, but towards those who love me.
When I initially heard about what this teacher has been saying about me, I was shocked. Next I noticed my strong need to explain myself. Then, privately, I started to wonder if there was perhaps a shred of truth to the lies going around. Perhaps energetically, I thought, I was guilty, even if I didn’t actually do the things my former teacher said and wrote about me. I spent some time inside that space, while simultaneously, my eighteen year-old daughter communicated that I was no fun to be around - that I jumped to blame her and was making her wrong.
As above, so below.
As I was trying to accept blame from the teacher I wanted to continue to see him in the positive light I had for the past twenty years I’d known him. This failure to adjust my perception of him pushed down the anger connected to his injurious treatment. Giving him power had me question myself on very basic facts about who I am - the child part in me who felt she had to take the blame. Hiding underneath was anger, held by another part, which was getting projected onto my own daughter, whom I don’t accord the same power.
This is likely an accurate reflection of what this teacher himself has been doing, though on a different scale of polarization causing these positive and negative projections.
For much of his adult life, he has been projecting positive qualities onto a perpetrator who was his beloved teacher, while he projected negatively on those of his own students who were neither rich or powerful. These “regular” students were at best rather ignored, especially when there were other, powerful students in the room who received his positive regard and all of his attention.
As his student body was split between those with worldly power and those without, his yoga room reflected his own split - between his own vulnerable, unloved child part that tries hard to love an abusive authority figure, taking on self-hate and other undesirable qualities, and another part, that controls those tender feelings by being an authority figure, dumping on students who are not rich and famous. Also, since his greatest love projection was on his teacher, he made celebrity students feel as if they were his equals, while everyone else was left trying to belong, or feeling “less than.”
I am not the only ‘regular’ student who has been the target of his extreme negative projections, lately. He has been lashing out and distancing others, people who studied with him, quietly stood by him and paid their monthly fees for decades. Perhaps this relates to the mounting pressures regarding his teacher’s abuse - a truth he has worked long and hard to suppress with considerable success. Now that he is increasingly confronted with this truth, which he witnessed and enabled, he may be struggling to keep appearing as the wise teacher as he is known publicly. Being called out, he is made accountable for his actions. The hurt young boy in him, I’m certain, wants to continue to love and protect that abuser.
My hurt young girl wants to continue to love and protect my abuser. My hurt young girl wants to continue to love and protect this teacher.
I have spent many years integrating parts and healing from my internal split. As the abuses of this teacher’s teacher are increasingly being made public and the conversation about the cult that enabled the abuse is on, circumstances may be asking him to pay attention to himself - to his polarized parts trying to reject the pain of what it means to invest all your love and professional life in protecting the wrong person. If you surrender yourself to a guru whom you know is not enlightened at the onset, all you are doing is creating a psycho-emotional repetition of unresolved childhood trauma. Not only will you not grow spiritually, you are sure to take on some version of this teacher’s flaws. Only healing, feeling the original pain underneath the attachment, can truly shift one’s perspective into balance to bring about true wisdom and true love.
I’m not angry anymore. I’m not afraid of his worldly power, his influence or connections with powerful figures. I’m not triggered by the hypocrisy of his public statements - they just point once again to the split. The healing I received from this situation has made me present to the ways in which I have made negative assumptions about people, gossiped or spread groundless rumors. I have looked hard at the many ways in which I felt small and insignificant, and from that place failed to be accountable for the effects of my actions.
My anger has been reunited with the original injustice, and placed with the abusers of my childhood for forcing me to take on their lies. This does not mean I won’t do everything in my power to stop this teacher, but I find myself energetically freed, less split, able to see various controversial issues from all sides. My lived understanding makes it impossible to stay angry, at least for now. In looking behind the surface, everyone reminds me of the saying: “But for the grace of God, there go I”
Inner work results in outer changes. Inner work reduces the polarization of different parts of the self who are stuck in contradictory roles, of either carrying the pain of the trauma, or rejecting it. The inner turmoil created by young parts who got emotionally stuck when their needs were denied, reflects the outer turmoil in the physical world, which is ultimately a reflection of ourselves by way of our emotional reactions.
Words are just that, and even my words can be used as the very wisdom that deflects responsibility for doing harm. Statements on giving away power to the wrong person can be repurposed to look good and sound wise. The issue of misplacing power can be used as another way to minimize a guru’s abuse and the responsibility of his enablers and defenders.
Our own negative emotional reactions to essentially neutral circumstances show us what we need to work on, whether this is me finding out about my teacher’s defamation, or him being confronted with a rising number of voices sharing the ugly truth he tried to hide. Looking good means nothing. The question is: can we change ourselves?
Opinions on the commodification of yoga in the west and what true yoga is, are all semantic. What matters is the lived experience and the increased self-awareness through honest introspection and emotional healing that leads to a decrease in polarization inside the self. This healing, reflected outwards, reduces the sway of the dual nature of maya, the Sanskrit word used in yoga to denote delusion.