Sex Scandals in Spiritual Groups

Julia (made up name to protect the guilty) is an amazingly competent and lively yoga teacher, in her 30’s. Julia notices she only wants to have sex if it is forbidden or taboo or boundary-breaking: either with a married man, or someone younger, or a student. It has to be naughty, there has to be sneaking around. That’s what turns her on. She was married once and after the vows were taken and they, being married, were supposed to have sex, she totally lost interest. It felt like a burden to have to have sex. Julia is kind of mystified by herself, but many people are wired the way she is – the lure of the forbidden.

Celibacy = Lots of horny people sitting around with too much time on their hands

For people who are wired like Julia, the guru or spiritual teacher sitting up there saying, “Everyone be celibate” is the greatest turn-on there could be. Suddenly, the whole ashram is a highly-charged sex club, full of horny, healthy, highly charged singles, who are trying to not think about sex. Which is very different, we all know, from just not thinking about or feeling sex.

I have heard personal reports from many people that one of the lustiest places they have ever been was a certain yoga ashram, where even married couples were instructed by the guru to be celibate. Like many ashrams, most of the people were single, but it had quite a few married couples in leadership positions. Visitors to the yoga center, coming for weekend or week-long retreats, reported that as soon as they walked in the door, they got sexually turned on, erect and juicy under their yoga clothes. No one knew why. Maybe the yoga they were doing was liberating energy, maybe the kundalini was rising. Later it turned out that the guru was having sex with some of the wives of his senior married students, and that tension may have been propagating through the whole ashram. Think about how confusing it was for those wives – here they are obeying the guru, and in so doing they are betraying their husbands, their vows, and the whole community. What a conflict. And the guru – what training could an Indian-born man possibly have that would prepare him to handle the power, money, and blatant sexuality of Americans?

In a sense, everyone was just behaving naturally, in the sense that monkeys, dogs, motorcycle gangs, and tribes do – the dominant male gets all the women. We’ve got to get over being shocked that people have sex.

There are other elements of a spiritual group that can be intoxicatingly sexual to some people: an atmosphere of power, domination, surrender, control, bondage, and humiliation. These elements are played in never-ending variety every minute of the day in many spiritual groups. This is complicated by the fact that if ten people are in a room with a spiritual teacher, they will have ten different experiences of the teacher and of each other. It’s mostly internal, inwardly constructed, and the teacher may have nothing to do with any of it.

When sexually alive people are celibate for any length of time, they can get so horny and highly charged that they can have an orgasm just by the silk of their garments rubbing against their genitals, or the electricity of the guru looking at them.

One woman looking at the guru adoringly, let’s call her Sheila, may think that when he gazes back at her, lovingly, it means he wants to have sex. Another woman, seeing the exchange, may get jealous, and then later say to a third woman who wasn’t there, “The guru was hitting on Sheila.” The third woman tells someone else, and soon the entire ashram or group is abuzz with the gossip, “The guru is seducing that bitch Sheila! Why her? Why not me?” Since everyone meditates hours a day, they have lots of time to sit and have interesting movies in their heads in which the guru and Sheila are having sex. Soon many people are convinced that the porno movies they are making up in their heads are real. After all, they do yoga, and have spiritual powers of discernment.

It gets more complicated than that. Way more complicated. In the example above with Sheila, it often happens that yet another woman, let’s call her Abigail, who has heard the gossip, sees this as an opportunity to grab power. She goes to the guru or one of the people around the guru and reports, “Sheila has been saying that the guru is hitting on her, and the whole ashram is talking about it.” The guru or the ashram officers around the guru may then banish Sheila to a distant ashram, or even banish her from the group. First, out of a protective instinct, to protect the guru, they may start a campaign to discredit Sheila, so they start a rumor that Sheila is mentally ill, and is a known liar. Some ashrams bug the private rooms of students and record everything, and have private detectives on retainer to gather negative evidence against anyone who is saying bad things about the guru.

The people in the group who are into domination and humiliation get even more sexually turned on because of this ritual degradation of Sheila. They feel the power! This is just part of the plot structure of the gossip that keeps a successful spiritual group going. The people who know how to handle such gossip and manipulate it to gain power can rise to the top of the organization. In the 1970’s, interviewing meditators and yogis who were in ashrams, I met people who knew how to turn such a situation to their own advantage: just pretend to be contrite, grovel for awhile, and work the angles.

Sheila is scapegoated and banished, she probably has no reason why, and spends the next three or four years sorting through her feelings and wondering what happened. Why did she lose her guru, her spiritual practice, her job at the ashram, and all her friends?

Sex Scandals ‘R Us

If you want to read about actual sex scandals, in which the guru seems to have in reality had sex with disciples, check out Guruphiliac.

The author of the blog has recently been in ecstasy because the guru world is giving him so many rich stories:

“Our turban has now been placed at the feet of the recently-arrested Swami Nithyananda. The man was clearly a superstar womanizer, a veritable Himalaya of seduction as an "enlightened master" employing his "powers" as a lure for the pretty, curvy things he was desiring to ravish.

One might ask the question, why didn't we hear about this sooner? One possible answer: this sex god had each of his conquests sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), one that pretty much covers all the bases:

“Volunteer understands that the Program may involve the learning and practice of ancient tantric secrets associated with male and female ecstasy, including the use of sexual energy for increased intimacy/spiritual connection, pleasure, harmony and freedom. Volunteer understands that these activities could be physically and mentally challenging, and may involve nudity, access to visual images, graphic visual depictions, and descriptions of nudity and sexual activity, close physical proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of a sexually oriented, and erotic nature, etc."

"By reading and signing this addendum, Volunteer irrevocably acknowledges that he/she is voluntarily giving his unconditional acceptance of such activities and discharges the Leader and the Foundation, and anyone else not specifically mentioned here but directly or indirectly involved in the organization, management or conduct of any such programs from any liability, direct or indirect, arising from such activities."

thanks, Guruphiliac!

Keep in mind that everyone is different. Some people thrive on being spanked and humiliated, others are shattered by it and scarred. Spiritual groups can change, radically, from month to month and be transformed quite rapidly into alt lifestyle clubs specializing in power games, domination, submission, ritual harassment, emotional spanking, while playing dress-up with yoga tatoos. For some, this is just wonderful theater, very entertaining. It has everything to do with group dynamics and very little to do with spirituality per se.

If you are not into power games, you may need to study domination and submission just a little, so you can protect yourself from the group dynamics in whatever spiritual group you are associated with.

The following article is just a random selection from a Google search on domination and submission.

Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, Sadism and Masochism

*Sexual Submissives Learn to Enjoy Domination, Humiliation in Sub Space
From associated content, link.

By Chloe Thorn
“For many people just entering this lifestyle, the idea of sub space is very elusive and unknown. Or if you have already experienced this, you don't know how to make it back there every time. Luckily, the sub space for true submissives is not as difficult to find as a G-Spot.

“Sub space is a way of explaining the ability a submissive has to deal with the pain, humiliation and cruelty that their Dominants put out. This space is where submissives go in their own heads that allows them to enjoy or appreciate the experiences they are given by their Dominant. A high that is received after their cravings have been satisfied. If a submissive cannot find this ability in their won mind, eventually the play and rigorous lifestyle of a D/s relationship can break them down.

“There are physiological reasons for subspace occurring. When a body can relate the pain to pleasure than their brains dump endorphins and the system is than flooded with epinephrine. These two things in the brain is what allows the pain to become more intense and the experience to become deeper and stronger. A lot of submissives describe it as a trance like state, they don't know where they are and they can't tell you specifics of what they are experiencing. To many submissives they feel like druggies that get their fix when this happens, and to their Dominant it allows them to push their submissives further than they would normally and everyone enjoys.

“Some submissives cannot reach sub space. The reasoning can be anything from, the Master is afraid of pushing too far, the submissive has not been taught to correlate pain with pleasure, or the submissive or Dominant is new to the lifestyle and have yet to push their relationship this far.

“Sub space can be very dangerous for new Dominants and submissives. If a submissive has no clear limits and they reach sub space the Dominant may push them so far that once the scene or play is over the submissive not only needs medical care for physical pain but also mental anguish. This falls under the decree of and D/s relationship, and that is that everything needs to be Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC). For subspace this means have a clear cut written limits list. Take scenes one level at a time don't start off with light spanking and jumps to whips and canes in the same scene of neither on of you have experienced them before. Try everything one big experience at a time, that the submissive and the Dominant know where the limits lie and don't press them even if the submissive during sub space wouldn't care.

“Ultimately sub space is a wonderful experience and can lead to a lovely incoherent and blissful state after the scene. Some subs say they sleep better then after play than they ever do at any other time. Reaching this space however can take time so that everyone enjoys before, during, and after.