This entire post is an excellent romp through some of the dark side of the yoga world, but I was particularly struck by some of the comments made.
Someone named AMO said the following:
When a person is surrounded by gorgeous young bodies, vibrating around their energy and exclaiming - "oh great yogi god of mine, teach me, teach me!" it is too much power for most people to handle. I know ego is my greatest character flaw. Especially ego connected to my deepest value, the value of helping others, of being of use. The dark side of that value, and all our values have a dark side, is I can slip proudly into the role of YOUR TEACHER if you show any signs of worshiping me.
Oye! I know this one all too well, having been an ESL teacher for many years, as well as an organizational leader in a non-profit, and at my zen center. Spending the past few weeks in this liminal place I'm in, I have watched this wanting to be helpful and loved because of it energy arise again and again.
Last Monday, I went over to an old student's apartment and tried to fix her computer. Even though I really didn't do much, she was grateful for a little bit of my time and also was asking if I might help out with some other things. I hesitated to offer more time on another day, and then later realized that this has been a strong pattern for me. I had to call her and tell her I didn't have time to help out right now because I knew if I did, I'd be playing that role again, and not getting the opportunity to examine it more closely.
What I have seen is that when I feel useful, helpful, or am "doing good," all seems "right" with the world. When what I am doing or not doing doesn't seem to be useful or helpful, all seems "not right" with the world. This isn't true 100% of the time, but both poles are a common experience for me.
There is an addictive quality to being considered the "teacher" or the "do gooder" and it can be at its worst with spiritual leaders precisely because they are so close to the source of all experience.
Another commenter, YogiOne, added this provocative paragraph:
Yogis expect Yogis to act better than others (We should know better). Christians expect Christians to act better than other people too. Same for Buddhists, Muslims, Jains, Hindus, etc. Perhaps these expectations are not realistic. Perhaps the identification with Yoga (or any of the other groups) rather than with our personal practice is part of the problem.
This identification process is insidious, and actually - in my experience anyway - is pretty subtle. In the beginning, you start taking in these new ideas, and there's a level of excitement. Maybe you see some tangible improvements in your life. You aren't as angry or sad, and/or maybe your body feels healthier. And then you become committed to the path you have chosen. You have scrutinized your life, made deliberate changes, and have become more willing to watch your faults. It's really easy to assume under these conditions that you "should be acting better" than others. In fact, sometimes it's completely true that you can handle things better, and people begin to uphold you as someone who can handle things better, which just adds another layer.
It's important, at the end of the day, to not idealize even the most life-affirming teachings and values. Everything can be flipped over in ways that bring tremendous suffering, perhaps especially that which can awaken and liberate us.