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Another Perspective of a Shattered Life

Former Member's Letter to Kriyananda:

Another Perspective of a Shattered Life


Dear Swami,

I wanted to let you know how I am feeling as a result of my reading the court case declarations.

I was not surprised at what they contained. I had heard rumors over the years about your sexual activity, though I never believed them. I had also had intuitive feelings many times that you had an issue with sexuality. Each time I had that intuitive hit, though, I managed to assume the best and to give you the benefit of the doubt-that you had it under control. I also knew many of the women involved and the declarations began to help piece together some of the events surrounding their leaving Ananda. It all began to make perfect sense to me.

What was shocking to me was the picture of what it must have felt like for those involved and the extent to which these events have changed their lives forever. What was also shocking was the number of women involved, the number of encounters, the number of years this was going on, and your extreme lack of emotional involvement with the women. Learning of these events, and the continuing conspiracy to cover-up your indiscretions by leaders of the community, further increased my feelings of deep betrayal.

As a result of my reading the declarations I have left Ananda and completely left the spiritual path. I no longer hold as true (truths) the things that I learned at Ananda. I no longer believe in God. The foundation upon which I built my entire life has collapsed. My relationship with Yogananda, that I cultivated for ** years, is now nonexistent.

I now have faith in nothing. I doubt every statement put before me. Even basic concepts such as peace, love and truth are suspect. Whenever anyone tries to speak to me about spiritual principles I cringe. The concept of integrity makes me bitter.

I feel betrayed by those I held in highest esteem. I feel angry that my love and respect were taken for
granted. I feel abused by those I trusted most.

I feel hurt that I was so deceived by those I most loved. I feel taken advantage of and used as a pawn to achieve others' goals, goals that I had taken on as my own.

I am angry with myself for giving away my power to you and others who, I now see, are no more
spiritually advanced than I. when I was told how spiritually advanced you and others were, I believed it. When I compared myself to you and them I always believed that I came up short. I now see that was a mistake.

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I am ashamed that I judged so harshly those who, years ago, spoke the truth about your sex life. I thought that they just couldn't pass muster, that they didn't fit in, that they didn't measure up. I believed they felt the need to strike back and hound both you and those of us who loved and supported you. I thought they were being intentionally small and malicious-spreading what they knew to be lies; I believed that they would pay for it in the end. Now I see they were simply speaking the truth. I am embarrassed that I trusted you and the community leaders instead of them.

I don't know what happened to my brain. It is as if I checked my critical thinking ability at the door. Every time a doubt would arise I would put it in a drawer. I wouldn't check on it until it had simply vanished, so as not to be bothered by it. I remember teaching others techniques of dealing with doubt. I used intellect to rationalize that if you or other leaders of the community said or implied that something was true, then it must be true, even though I doubted it. It all came as a package. If I were to buy part of the package, I had to buy it all-hook, line and sinker. I didn't want to be the metaphysical butterfly taking only as much as felt right from this teacher and a little from the next teacher. I strove to be the disciple who drank deep at the well and took it all.

It was my mistake to assume you practiced what you preached. Just because you were the head of the monastic order and a swami who took and gave others vows of celibacy, taught householders that celibacy was the highest path and taught techniques of sexual self-control, it didn't, apparently, mean you were celibate.

When I wrote to you after your marriage to --- and encouraged you to have children, the response I got from you was a laughing, "I'm not going to do anything to make it happen." What I am embarrassed about is the way I and others defended you. We were sure that you were celibate even in your marriage to ----.

I feel as if my innocence has been violated-that I have been spiritually raped! I feel unclean, guilty, empty and shattered through no fault of my own. My good will has been trampled and crushed.

When I think about the way all of us at Ananda thought we were, as devotees, better than anyone else I just cringe. Judgment was rife within the community. Walls were built around the community and we knew who fit in, who was family and who wasn't. We were taught to avoid like the plague those that weren't devotees . All that separation is haunting me now and causing me great pain.

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I feel shaken to my very core, unable to get sure footing in the outside world. In the Rule of Conduct for Ananda Members, it is stated that, "If a member leaves, he or she can ask for help from the community so as to help get established in their new life." I invoked that offer by twice asking ----, in person, for the community to help me. The first time he said he'd think about it, as it was "precedence setting". The second time he seemed to think it was "dharmic" for the community to help me. He also admitted that he'd love to see members who had been there for "x" number of years be given money when they left in recognition and appreciation for their support and contributions. He further stated he would have to talk it over with you, ---&---- and other community leaders to see how best to help me. After not hearing back from him for several months, I wrote him, again requesting help. This time he called and said no. The community, he said, was in no position to help me financially. When I asked if he had talked with you about it, he said no. He had talked only with ---&---, I believe.

I need help to get started in my new life. I need a few years of college to develop a career that will support myself and my family, and ongoing therapy to help me adjust to what happened in my life. One word from you and I know the money would be found.

After ** years of devotion and service on my part, I believe it is the least Ananda can do for me. I gave over $100,000 of my money to Ananda in the form of membership dues, tithes, donations, unpaid labor, school fees, housing costs, roads surcharges, court case support, pilgrimages, general upgrading etc., not to mention my love, support, loyalty, defense, devotion, dedication and sheer "elbow grease". I have lost valuable time that I will never be able to regain. Time that I could have been using to educate myself and pursue a career had I not been discouraged by Ananda from doing so. Had I known ** years ago what I now know about you and Ananda I never would have joined. You misrepresented yourself and your handpicked leaders covered for you. They conspired to keep the truth of the situation from being public knowledge. I was defrauded out of my time and money- time that never can be recovered.

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