Ghee U (you) R(are) U (you) revelations on this thing called guru.
Revelation: a surprising and previously unknown fact that has been disclosed to others.
So this month in class i have been very focused on the act of meditation which i describe as a journey from outward fixation to inward REVELATION. To my own surprise i actually have come to a rather shocking and incredible revelation myself this week which is the fact that someone who i admired highly, one because he is my teachers teacher, but two also because he has build such an (yoga) empire and an incredible yoga method which i don’t necessarily practice myself but i do strongly resonate with & relate to: Ashtanga Yoga. This method is found by Pattabhi Jois. I have been a Jivamukti Yoga Teacher for over 5 years now, in all this time i have had nothing but love and respect for PJ coming from the love i have seen my teachers have for him and i have always seen him as a highly valuable resource for my classes and my own practice. I was fully unaware of the dark side of his practices. Another yoga teacher shed a light on all this through a reaction on a post i posted on instagram. Again fully unaware of any of his actions i posted a photo and a quote of him (i have used his quotes for years in class) which got a respond of truth. So there it was. My revelation of this week. I am still so upset, hurt and disgusted with all this. I am devastated and heart broken that this is the world we live in. And once again sick of this yoga circus, determined to keep going on my OWN path, empowered with self trust & my brutal honesty, as i am devoted to bringing truth-satya to this world and to the students i teach at all times. Its all we have!
So it is time for me to speak out on this matter because it means a lot to me. It also is time i share my own very strong opinion on the word: GURU and how i feel about it.
How i feel about the word GURU:
First of all i do NOT call my teachers gurus. They are my teachers, they are people, they are people who i admire, who inspire me on a daily basis & when i am with them, when i am in their presence I feel uplifted, happy, energised, free and encouraged to keep doing my own thing on this Jivamukti Yoga path. I have never referred to them as “gurus” and i never will. Because i don’t believe in the word or the meaning of the word, if anything i think the word is dangerous & can have an extreme dangerous effect on people. I personally have witnessed this especially in the yoga scene & it really is unhealthy & awful the effect this word is having on people especially those dealing with their own issues, struggles, pain and vulnerability. I have always had a very strong opinion and always had a strong feeling of self and belonging, of what i wanted to do in this world and who i am. My parents used to joke that my first words were: i do it myself (before saying words like mummy and daddy) I am my own person. I do NOT put anyone on a platform, i do not look UP to people i look AT people. I see their beauty, their strength, their knowledge, their wisdom and i am in awe of it, i admire it, love it, respect it, embrace and cherish it. I advocate in every class to students to be your own “guru” have your own opinion, question everything and always trust yourself because when you don’t you are creating such an imbalanced relationship with all others in this world. Power to all the people!
My teacher on what is guru:
My dear teacher David Life (Co Founder Jivamukti Yoga) describes this word GURU in one of his spoken word recordings (track 9 What is Guru The Spoken Word Series) as the following. He says: “to understand the word guru you just have to spell it slowly. Ghee You Are You. All the guru is is a mirror for the student. They help the student by reflecting back to them their divinity.” Both my teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life hold three teachers preciously close to their hearts & Jivamukti Yoga Teachers are taught their names from the very beginning of our training as teachers. To name the three:
Swami Nirmalananda silent yogi & animal rights activist
Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati: Sanskrit Scholar, Nada Yoga
Sri K Pattabhi Jois founder of Ashtanga Yoga
The word guru was kind of a new thing for me when i entered the yoga world. I also feel people throw it around like its nothing. As if its not a heavy loaded word. Because it is. I love and respect my teachers Sharon and David like theres no tomorrow. I have oceans of love & gratitude towards them & just thinking of them makes me happy. So i highly value where they come from, what their path has been and who their teachers have been on that path. But for me personally their teachers are not my teachers. Their opinions are not necessarily my opinions, their choices are not my choices. A good teacher gives you everything you need, they make you into an instrument and then they give you the space to develop yourself, grow into the teacher you were meant to become. The fact that i started doing my own research, the fact that i started questioning that is actually something my teachers taught me. To always question everything. So i did. And the facts don’t lie. I don’t want to go too deep into the absolute disgust i feel and how this world is run by men and how men abuse their power and how many vulnerable victims there are out there. All i want to say is i learned that someone who i had nothing but love for did the ONE thing i absolutely HATE. Abuse his own position of power & by doing so destroyed lives. Taking away the one thing which made them human, which made them strong, confident & empowered. Which (so called) enlightened being takes away YOGA and DIGNITY from other beings? This is what i mean when i say the word guru is dangerous. Its dangerous for the person referred to as the guru and its dangerous for the people who are referring to someone else as their “guru”.
This man was enabled to abuse women publicly (like many others Bikrum being another big example) and got away with it because of his guru status. I highly disagree with this. Its unethical, its a form on injustice. I belief that someone should have said something, done something. Created a space for these men and women to have a voice.
I personally can no longer look at Pattabhis Jois as a teacher, or as someone i admire & i will never refer to him again in class nor do i want any association with him during the rest of my practice as both a student and a teacher.
This is my opinion i felt i needed to share. I do not want to brainwash anyone else i just want to share the facts & revelations that have come on my path.
Here are a few resources i have found really useful:
To close this is what I wrote a while back on how I see myself on this path:
Be an instrument.
I am a teacher not a preacher.
I am not about helping, I am about serving.
I don’t claim to be any bigger or better then anyone else.
I don’t use or believe in the word guru nor do I give people power over me.
I bow to my teachers but I stand on my own feet.
I trust myself & question everything.
I am a rebel with a cause, always keeping it real.
I am an instrument, a transmitter, a connector, a networker, a traveler, a nomad with a mat, spreading the word, the teachings, the vegan message.
I am connected to the source which enables me to do all this.
I am the instrument, none of this is about or for me.
All of this is for the animals. For the freedom and liberation of all beings.
I live my yoga. I live my message. I live to love. I live to give. I live to teach.
I’m a yoga teaching activist, not an active yoga teacher.
I’m always the activist first, always the instrument first.
I AM THAT.
All photos by Luis Luz