Master of Deceit: How Yogi Bhajan Used Kundalini Yoga for Money, Sex and Power

  • Former followers of Yogi Bhajan are speaking out about years of severe physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. They claim he ran a destructive cult and groomed and abused children.
  • Former long-term staff member Kate Felt claims Bhajan brutally raped her at the age of 20 while her sister Amrit Kaur Khalsa, who is the current head of Kundalini operations/3HO, helped him. She also alleges Bhajan kept her hostage with armed guards in the cult. 
  • A new book by former staff member Pamela Sarah Dyson alleges that Bhajan had coerced her and other staff members into sex. Other members have reiterated her claim. 
  • Yogi Bhajan stated in a lecture in 1978 that “Rape is always invited, it never happens, a person who is raped is always providing subconsciously the environments and the arrangements.”
  • Bhajan was involved with several criminal operations including smuggling twenty tons of marijuana and weapons from Thailand, defrauding people with fake investment scams and overcharging people for jewelry. 
  • Yogi Bhajan hoarded millions of dollars in precious jewels and gems, had the largest collection of ivory in New Mexico and owned nearly twenty luxury cars. He made millions of dollars off his Kundalini enterprise. 
  • Bhajan coerced his followers to send their children away for years to his expensive training schools in India where they were physically beaten, emotionally abused and indoctrinated.
  • He also arranged over 500 marriages and tampered with relationships, while shaming and ostracizing gay members. Bhajan groomed girls at a young age to be married off to his elite and wealthy friends.
  • The Kundalini organization runs a multi-billion dollar private military & security company called Akal Security that works with the U.S. Military. They worked with ICE to detain and ship migrants until group members organized a petition in 2015. A member on the global board of Akal says he is the “guru’s slave.”
  • Bhajan died in 2004 of severe diabetes, obesity and heart failure after he had an illegal kidney transplant in India.
  • Bhajan is still venerated by 3HO, Sikh Dharma and modern Kundalini leadership and teachers.
  • Those aware of abuses have been called “heretics” when bringing information to the governing members in the past. Many in leadership have known of the abuses but have actively been covering them up. 
  • A scholar claims Bhajan blended modern teachers ideas to create the Kundalini poses, despite claiming they were ancient. Former staff members say some poses were “literally made up on the spot” during yoga class.

WARNING: This article contains graphic accounts of rape and child abuse. 

[NOTE: This article is largely based on over a dozen original interviews with the co-founder of the Kundalini Research Institute, former CEOs, several former directors of major ashrams and many senior teachers, students and abuse survivors.]

Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency / FULL BIO/ Author contact: / DONATE


“I know that you know certain things.” Yogi Bhajan was talking to Tej Steiner, the director of the Toronto Kundalini Ashram in a library-like room at the Clevland Ashram. It was May 1988. “I just want to tell you that there are so many people who love me in this family. So many people. And some of them have guns. If you tell people what you know I’m not responsible for what they might do to you. They are crazy and they love me that much.” During an interview, Steiner said that he then went numb. 

Not long before this conversation, Steiner had a phone call that changed everything for him. “Your sister is freaking out,” Bhajan told him. “Go to Chicago now! Speed! Don’t obey the lights!” Neither Steiner nor Bhajan knew what was wrong with his sister, who was also a long-time Kundalini devotee. When Steiner arrived he quickly found out. “Bhajan was having sex with Premka from the beginning” she blurted out. Steiner didn’t believe her. “No way,” he said. “I’ll call her.” Steiner picked up the phone and dialed Pamela Sarah Dyson, known as Premka in the Kundalini community. He only spoke four words. “Is it true Premka?” He took a breath. “Yes,” she said. He knew. And soon after Yogi Bhajan knew that he knew. 

Two months later in July Steiner wrote a letter to the Kundalini Yoga community. He sent it to the directors of the 100 Kundalini ashrams around the world. In it, he asked “can we openly question our spiritual teacher’s actions…without punitive measures taken against us?” He was referring to questions about Premka and Kate Felt, another woman who alleged sexual abuse by Bhajan. He warned them: “If we hold any leader ‘above’ this accountability, we move from being in Dharma to being in a cult.” A few months later he also wrote a lengthy letter to Bhajan himself. 

The Kundalini leadership attacked Steiner for his action. “I got all kinds of letters from heads of ashrams saying I was a cockroach, that I had fallen from grace and that I was slandering Bhajan.” 

That was 32 years ago.

In January 2020, Pamela Sarah Dyson published her tell-all memoir Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan about her nearly 15 years serving as Yogi Bhajan’s secretary and assistant. She details her sexual relationship with Bhajan, how he forced her to get an abortion of their child, how Bhajan was having sex with other secretaries and Bhajan’s various abuses. 

In the days and weeks since her book came out, many people have come forth sharing their stories of physical, sexual and cultic abuse by Yogi Bhajan in a Facebook group. They, along with the wider Kundalini yoga community, are grappling with a paradox of how someone of such great spiritual power and societal influence could also have abused that power for evil. 

Widespread Cultural Influence

Woodstock music festival began with a Kundalini Yoga class taught by Tom Law, a member of the hippie group called the Jook Savages. Law had studied with Yogi Bhajan in L.A. not long after the guru arrived in America. Bhajan tapped into the zeitgeist of the Woodstock generation to create something that left a sizable impact on the cultural landscape.

Bhajan opened Golden Temple, one of the first-ever vegetarian restaurants in L.A., founded the popular Yogi Tea business and created the billion-dollar Akal Security company with deep ties to the U.S. government and military. Father Yod, who started the Source Family cult, considered Bhajan his “spiritual father.” Yod was an early disciple who traveled with Bhajan on a notorious trip to India. Bhajan also gave birth to a generation of Kundalini yoga teachers who have become famous in their own right.

The Hollywood & Political Connection

One of Bhajan’s most famous students, Gurmukh, opened Golden Bridge Yoga also in Los Angeles in 1993. It became the largest studio in the world after she taught Cindy Crawford, Madonna, and Pamela Anderson prenatal yoga and meditation. Her other celebrity clients include Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr, and Rosanna Arquette. Gurmukh is longtime guru of New York Time’s bestselling author Gabby Bernstein and officiated her wedding.

In 2013 Demi Moore and Russell Brand took part in a walkout at Golden Bridge, protesting Gurmukh. They were upset with Gurmukh because she wouldn’t let their guru, Tej Kaur Khalsa out of her contract.

Demi Moore with Tej (left), Russell Brand with Tej (right)

Alicia Keys hails famous Kundalini Yoga teacher, Guru Jagat, as her teacher. The Sounds True author convinced Keys to stop wearing makeup and spent time meditating with her before the Grammy’s. Kate Hudson is Jagat’s student too. Jagat is the founder of the RA MA Institute and a disciple of Bhajan, Tej Kaur Khalsa and Harijiwan. She charges $100,000 for a 5–7 day private training. 

Demi Moore and Russell Brand’s guru Tej Kaur Khalsa is one of the most loyal disciples of Yogi Bhajan. In response to Bhajan’s ongoing sexual abuse allegations, on Feb. 25th, 2020, Tej posted that Bhajan was a “Master” who “will continue to save millions of souls.” Bhajan died in 2004. She will “continue to hold him in deep respect,” she wrote about her lifelong guru. In an email, Tej said the women accusing Bhajan of rape and sexual misconduct are “mentally unbalanced” and “desire attention” for “financial reasons.”

Since the renewed allegations, Jagat shared a video on Instagram that slandered author Pamela Sarah Dyson, one of Bhajan’s victims, and praised Yogi Bhajan in godlike fashion. She wrote, “The Truth as always lies in the eye of the Beholder.” Jagat also recently shared a video boasting of Bhajan’s mystical powers. 

Both Tej and Jagat shared a video to discredit the sexual abuse allegations called “The Futile Flow of Fate.” It was produced by felon Harijiwan and his wife Mandev. Harijiwan is Tej’s ex-husband and former right-hand man of Bhajan who has been the chief cult enforcer denying Bhajan’s abuse. Harijiwan appeared on his student Russell Brand’s show in 2013. 

“There is a cult within the cult,” a former senior teacher said. The sexual abuse allegations have been known for many years. Senior teachers like Harijiwan, Tej and Guru Jagat have played a central role in covering them up and attacking the victims. Wild Mountain Yoga explained the coverup in a Facebook post, “the organizations he started are complicit in abuse, hiding information, turning-a-blind-eye, slandering and harassing victims, and even at this very moment distorting, hiding, and rationalizing facts amidst a 3rd-party investigation.”

Harijiwan & Guru Jagat (left), Tej Kaur Khalsa (center), Gurmukh (right)

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was a close confidant of Yogi Bhajan. In 2004 The New York Times reported Bhajan was “a substantial contributor to both the Democratic and Republican parties” and that “Gov. Bill Richardson ordered flags flown at half-staff in his honor” after Bhajan died. Bhajan’s Akal Security, based in New Mexico, became one of the largest security companies in the world after securing U.S. government contracts. In his 2010 article “The Disturbing Mainstream Connections of Yogi Bhajan,” cult expert Steven Hassan also noted that “For a time in the 1990s Yogi Bhajan’s top lawyer, Guru Terath Singh Khalsa, served as New Mexico’s Deputy Attorney General.” A former senior teacher who was traveling with Gurmukh, Bibiji (Bhajan’s widow) and other members in 2006 said Bill Richardson and several kids from Kundalini schools joined them for dinner one night in Amritsar, India.

Yogi Bhajan with Bill Richardson (top left), Bill Richardson with Kundalini leaders (top center), Yogi Bhajan with President Bill Clinton (top right), Yogi Bhajan with President George Bush (bottom left), George Bush with Akal Security (bottom middle), Yogi Tea (bottom right).

In 2019 Bill Richardson was named in the Jeffery Epstein scandal. The Daily Beast reported, “Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in depositions in 2016 that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.”

“Credible, consistent reports have since surfaced that strongly implicate Bhajan as a disgraceful predator who groomed and abused women and children.” — Cher Lucas, director of Sat Nam Studios

Many other Hollywood A-listers such as Jennifer Aniston and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are known to practice Kundalini Yoga as well. Oprah loves the Kundalini yogi musician Snatam Kaur. And the Kundalini music troupe White Sun won a Grammy award. Groundbreaking New York Times Bestselling author of “A Mind of Your Own” Dr. Kelly Brogan is a Kundalini devotee, connected to the inner circle as well. She chimed in on the Yogi Bhajan scandal writing a post that cult expert Matthew Remski called a “sophisticated cult/abuse apologist manifesto.” 

Bhajan’s influence is far and wide. Hundreds of thousands of people have practiced his Kundalini Yoga all over the world. Kundalini festivals like the Sat Nam Fest and the Summer Solstice attract large crowds every year. Celebrity teachers travel the world offering classes to sold-out crowds.

The question many Kundalini practitioners and teachers are wondering now is, can they separate the teachings from the teacher? Can they reconcile decades of sexual and physical abuse, grooming of children, drug smuggling and fraud with a practice they know and love?

Sexual Abuse & Rape

“Over the past thirty years, I have helped former members who alleged sexual and psychological abuse by and under Yogi Bhajan.” — Dr. Steven Hassan, Cult Expert

A long-time student and employee named Kate Felt alleges that Yogi Bhajan brutally raped her at the age of twenty while her sister, Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, helped. Kaur Kalsa is now the current head of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC), they oversee all business related to Kundalini, 3HO, Yogi Tea and Akal Security. She is on the board of directors for both the SSSC and Sikh Dharma International.

Felt first got involved when she was around 13 and quickly became enamored with Bhajan and the teachings. She saw him as a “messenger of God” she states. At 18, Bhajan had arranged for Kate to marry a man named David, who later became a Sikh. When Bhajan’s secretary left him he reversed course and broke off the marriage between the two making them both feel horrible she states. She didn’t realize it then, but later she understood that he was grooming her to be the next secretary.

Felt alleges in her lawsuit that a few years later Bhajan raped her. She recounted the experience in an interview years later.

“As soon as everyone else left the room, my sister locked the door. Yogi Bhajan announced he was going to have sex with me and I said, “No, I don’t want to. I want to get out of here!” And I started crying. He just grabbed me. My sister was in the room the whole time. Anyway he proceeded to rape me and I suffered, I tried to struggle a lot. He hit me and held me down by my hair. When I started to resist through my voice he bit my tongue and my lip, which people noticed for several weeks afterwards. They were asking what happened to me. [Bhajan] did tell some people that he had hit me, and that’s why my lip was cut. It was actually because he had bitten it. He bit my tongue so badly that it was swollen and I couldn’t eat and had to use a straw for five days.

I had bruised nipples, a lot of bruising on my thighs. I was very sore. It was just so shocking because I thought he was my god. And my Sister totally helping with this, I trusted her.

Gratefully it didn’t last long. I mean he just got in and out, got his whatever and then I was just left there with my all my bruises and insult and shame. But I do remember laughing because I had bled so much. A huge puddle of blood. He and Guru Amrit were in a tizzy about it- because it was on the bedcover. Guru Amrit sneaked down to the basement and got some bleach. I don’t know if they ever got it out or what, but [Bhajan] was freaked out that the head of the Ashram there, Swarn Kaur, would notice it.

…A lot more beatings, a lot more bloody noses. I’d get headaches from when he’d hit me in the head so many times. And doing rectal intercourse and having other people hold me down- that sort of thing. But it wasn’t as frequent. Because I know he had a hard time even looking at me. He would say that all the time. But Yogi Bhajan was obsessed with me. I had a private investigator hired on me.”

In Felt’s lawsuit, she names her sister Amrit Kaur Khalsa. “In carrying out his sexual assaults, Bhajan was at times physically assisted by defendant Amrit Kaur and at times physically assisted by defendant Guru Ke, who would physically restrain the plaintiff.”

Kate Felt’s sister Amrit Kaur Khalsa is the head of Kundalini yoga operations.

Felt says that Bhajan threatened to kill her and her family after he caught her speaking to a male member of her family. 

“He’d say, if he ever caught me communicating with this man, or any family member, that he would kill all of them and kill me. He said that several times. After that whole event, he couldn’t stand to look at me. Like I had committed adultery. I had broken the relationship. That I had betrayed him, and he could no longer trust me, and I was just for a f — k. I was always there just for a f — k, but it was more explicitly grotesque each time, but it was less frequent.”

She also claims in her lawsuit that Bhajan and his team held her captive with armed guards. Her lawsuit states that during a period of several months she was “at all times held under armed guard, and was, in addition, watched constantly by members of the cult, who would report her every move to Bhajan.”

In Pamela Sarah Dyson’s new book and the previous lawsuit, she describes the first sexual interaction with Bhajan as “gross and impersonal.” Dyson worked for Bhajan as his secretary for nearly 15 years and became a prominent figure in the organization. 

“Not long after Bhajan requested that I serve as his chauffeur, secretary and general aide, he began to have sexual intercourse with me. This relationship was not romantic or erotic. The first time was when I had driven him to the parking lot across the street from his apartment. He simply put his body on mine in a way which even then impressed me as being gross and impersonal; it occurred as just one more of the jobs which by then I was expected to do for him.”

In the lawsuit, she also says that he demanded her to take part in sex with other women and coordinate orgies for him.

“In 1976, while I was living at the ashram in Espanola, Bhajan directed me to act as his sexual surrogate with another female member of the Secretariat. I was horrified and humiliated by this request, and told him that I did not wish to do it. He pressured and manipulated me and manipulated the other woman until we finally did attempt to perform as he demanded.”

She continues.

“Bhajan demanded that I coordinate his sexual liaisons with other members of the Secretariat, and arrange the orgies that occurred between him and several members of the Secretariat. I refused to participate in the orgies and in making the arrangements for them. I learned later that he then would discredit me behind my back as untrustworthy and advise the other women members of the Secretariat not to trust me in any matters.”

In her book, she describes her sexual duties.

“Each night it had become my responsibility to kneel down next to him, massaging him to sleep. He would often pull me into his bed for muffled and secretive sex. Afterwards, though I longed to enjoy lying next to him, hoping to be held by him, he would inevitably nudge me back onto the floor to continue massaging him until he fell asleep.”

Dyson states that she naively believed Bhajan’s divine status would prevent her from getting pregnant. 

“When the Yogi initiated sex with me, I assumed that he was infallible, that he either had God-like powers or was, at the very least, divinely protected. I naively assumed my status as his devotee, along with careful timing, would serve as adequate contraception. This magical thinking of mine was ripe for a large dose of reality.”

When Dyson got pregnant with Bhajan’s child he forced her to get an abortion. Dyson begins her book with a story of her hemorrhaging blood on the flight from India to London a few months after the abortion. 

Dyson also describes how Bhajan told her several stories about past karmic lives to justify and explain why they needed to have sex. He told her, “I am just fulfilling an obligation to you because of past karma. I have no need of any sexual relationship. I am beyond all of that.” In one story she was a temple priestess and he was a monk and they are fulfilling their karma from this previous life. In another, he told Dyson that he had three lives. “When I asked him to reconcile his role as a professed, celibate religious leader with the fact he was having sex with more than one woman, that he put a religious gloss on the sex. He said he was actually living three lives in one, and that I was his spiritual wife in one of the lives.”

Dyson would plead with Bhajan trying to convince him the relationship didn’t need to be sexual. “I would really prefer to just serve you as a devotee,” she told him. She “desperately wanted to be free of the torment” and “duality of their relationship.” But he told her she was there to serve him in every possible way.

“Premka, it is not in your destiny to marry. You have only one option and that is to serve me. You have to do my laundry and wash my floors. It is the only way you can clean your karma. I am just looking into the Akashic records, and I am just telling you what I see.” — Yogi Bajhan

Sarah Laurie (not her real name) said she was groomed from the age of 8.

“I was groomed to become one of the cult leaders ‘secretaries’ or consorts from the age of 8. I was raised to believe this cult leader, “Yogi Bhajan” was an all seeing and knowing, living spiritual god. Among many other insane things, I was taken to live in one of the cult leaders estates right out of school from India. I was moved to Los Angeles at 16-17 where I worked in the Sikh corporate office. I was regularly sexually assaulted, psychologically broken down, manipulated, publicly harassed, humiliated, and controlled by Yogi Bhajan. During my time working for the Sikh corporation, I witnessed insurmountable hypocrisy and corruption within the organization and its businesses. I had no choice but to flee to NYC, in order to hide and escape the abuses of the sexual predator that Yogi Bhajan was.”

At 18, Jessica Canter (not her real name) worked briefly for the Kundalini organization. During an interview, she said her father was a very close associate with Bhajan and she spent a lot of time around him. She claims Bhajan groped her breast and butt telling her “You are almost ready, turning out very nicely.”

“Many nights I would be with [Bhajan] and his “Entourage” at Dr Allen’s house. One night he called my father and me into the back room. He started to yell at me, that I was a slut, was I even a virgin? He said that a kid I grew up with, told him I was a flirt. And yogi did not believe my answers. I was devastated.

In the late fall of 1990, I was at Dr. Allen’s cleaning [Bhajan’s] room. He made me stand up, asked me to twirl around, then he proceeded to put both of his hand on my breast, he squeezed them. He turned me around and did the same to my butt. I was scared, we were alone. I was mortified. He said, ‘You are almost ready, and turning out very nicely.'”

Canter said it was obvious that Bhajan was sleeping with his secretaries. “He’d come over in the middle of the night and there’d be only one bed.” She was referring to the home of a secretary with whom she stayed. “There’s no two ways that he wasn’t haven’t sex with all these women.” Canter recalled that one of Bhajan’s most repeated phrases was “A woman’s duty is to be a saint in the kitchen and a hooker in the bedroom.”

“Rape is always invited, it never happens, a person who is raped is always providing subconsciously the environments and the arrangements.” — Yogi Bhajan, lecture from April 26th, 1978

Michael Eldan, a long-term kundalini yoga teacher, recounts a time when he heard Bhajan having sex with a secretary. He said it wasn’t Pamela Sarah Dyson. Eldan along with three others were assigned to guard Bhajan’s cabin, where his secretary also stayed during a yoga retreat in Loches, France. As they walked around the cabin they heard loud orgasmic and sexual noises. “It was clearly obvious to anyone what was going on,” Eldan said.

Christa Houser (not her real name) moved into the Portland Kundalini Ashram when she was 18 and lived there for six years. During an interview, she told me she heard Bhajan having sex with one of his secretaries who was traveling with him. They stayed directly above her room in the ashram. She didn’t want to name the secretary, but she said it wasn’t Pamela Sarah Dyson. Christa said it “shattered her world” to hear him having sex with the secretary.

“A woman’s duty is to be a saint in the kitchen and a hooker in the bedroom.” — Yogi Bhajan

A woman named Kathy Roney filed a lawsuit in 1985 against Yogi Bhajan for coercing her to get a “laparoscopic tubal ligation” which left her sterile. This surgery, i.e. “getting your tubes tied” is done to prevent pregnancy. In the suit, she claims she was “physically and psychologically debilitated at said time and place by the physical regimen, isolation, manipulation, indoctrination, and mind and psychological control tactics of defendant Yogi, which were carried out both by himself and by other members.” Roney was on a thirteen-day food fast at the time of the procedure, also of which she was coerced onto she claims. 

Sarah Nest (not her real name) said at the age of four she was forced to sit on Yogi Bhajan’s lap every day, at times while sexually explicit and violent material played on TV in the room. 

“…As a four-year-old young girl I was forced to sit on [Bhajan’s] lap day in and day out…The reason I am posting is I want people to understand that Yogi Bhajan was willing and able to do extreme harm to a four-year-old child. That harm, even as a grown adult, has affected me every day. I have never felt my body was my own…he was extremely rough with me (squeezing me until I couldn’t breathe, pinching my face so hard it hurt and left marks.) They had a TV in the room and often played sexually explicit and violent material. They would watch this for hours at a time, day on end, and I would be sitting on his lap the whole time. Sometimes he was sexually aroused. I can’t explain the damage that did to me. My father sat in that room and not only did he not stop it, but it was his ticket into the inner circle so he encouraged it…

What I do remember was that at one point I was brought into Yogi Bhajan’s bedroom and I was summoned to his bed. My father saw the whole thing happen, let it happen, and left the room and I was alone with Yogi Bhajan in his bed. That is where everything goes black…

Another thing that negatively affected me is that Yogi Bhajan would force me to sit on his lap while he shamed and screamed at men, women, husbands, and wives who admired him and many of whom had joined the ashram to be near him and learn from him. He would shame them so harshly that rarely did anyone leave without sobbing, grown men and women brought to tears, because the man they looked up to shamed them and tore them apart.”

Another person knew of a time Bhajan was claiming to heal a woman with “promiscuity” issues by breaking down her defenses while there was porn playing on the tv in the background in front of a group of men.

During an interview, Ronald Alexander, co-founder of the Kundalini Research Institute, told me that two 15 and 16-year-old teenagers saw his then-wife as a therapist. The girls told her that Bhajan told them he was going to have sex with them to clear their karma. There are also other credible stories of sexual abuse by Bhajan, including with teenagers. Alexander also said Bhajan asked him numerous times questions like “Is it ok to have vaginal sex and then finish in a woman’s ass?” and “If a straight man finishes in a woman’s ass does that make them a homosexual?”

Ronald Alexander also said that Bhajan told his ex-wife that he healed a young woman who had a tumor on her uterus. Bhajan claimed he cured it by sticking his hand in her vagina, reaching up and grabbing the tumor and pulling it out. Bhajan claims he then filled the woman’s vagina with yogurt and she was healed.

Several other former members reported that Bhajan’s secretaries always slept in his room and it was known he was having sex with them. Former assistant and secretary Gursant Singh said he often “dropped Bhajan off at different women’s residences at 1 am.”

Karan Khalsa, CEO of Spirit Voyage, a Kundalini business, issued a public statement saying she heard first hand the stories of abuse. “In the last 2 weeks, I have personally heard from 7 women whose stories of being abused by Yogi Bhajan have been heartbreaking. They are horrifying.”

Famous musician Snatam Kaur also acknowledged the reality of the abuse in a public Facebook statement, “I have dear friends that I grew up with who have in the past few weeks, conveyed to me varying degrees of sexual abuse that they experienced with Yogi Bhajan. I have been deeply affected and shaken to the core in hearing their stories, and I believe them.” 

Cher Lucas, the director of Sat Nam Studios posted a statement saying they would be teaching Kundalini Yoga free from all references to Bhajan. She wrote, “Credible, consistent reports have since surfaced that strongly implicate Bhajan as a disgraceful predator who groomed and abused women and children.” 

“I have known about this for a long time and when I tried to raise the subject at Khalsa Council I was called a heretic.” — Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa

Yogi Bhajan’s Physical & Verbal Abuse

Gursant Singh was Bhajan’s personal coordinator and security guard at the headquarters in Los Angeles from 1981 to 1984. He lived down the street for ten years and was heavily involved in the organization. In 2012 he published a tell-all book called “Confessions of an American Sikh” in which he described various abuses he witnessed. In an interview, he recounted these instances and told me how Bhajan relentlessly bullied and physically abused people. “I had witnessed Bhajan physically kick a depressed young man mercilessly inside the Sikh temple of the Guru Ram Das Ashram in LA while the boy just lay there helplessly.” He also saw Bhajan punch a woman. 

“Once, a lady disagreed with him over something. I remember, it was about how she was raising her son. He didn’t bother arguing. He just punched her in the nose in front of all of us. He really did…One of Bhajan’s secretaries, Nirinjan Kaur, who witnessed the event, told me that he had done much worse to all of them and for me not to worry about it.”

John Lamenzo founded a Kundalini center, 3HO Connecticut, and was a longtime senior kundalini teacher. During an interview, he told me that Bhajan punched him on two different occasions. “I’m standing there with a group of people, he just punched me in the center of my chest, threw me back a couple of feet.” Bhajan didn’t say anything to him before or after hitting him. “He figured he had the right to slug anybody.” He was punched in his chest in a similar manner on a separate occasion as well. “He was known for kicking the shit out of people, and everyone would laugh,” Lamenzo emphasized. 

In her lawsuit, Kate Felt stated that she was “repeatedly struck” and abused between 1978 and 1985. The suit stated the actions included but were not limited to “beatings; involuntary sexual intercourse, sodomy, and other sexual attacks; administration of ostensibly medical treatments; administration of bizarre rites; urination upon the plaintiff; and other particulars.”

“I had witnessed Bhajan physically kick a depressed young man mercilessly in front of the Sikh Temple of the Guru Ram Das Ashram in LA while the boy just lay there helplessly.” — Gursant Singh

“He could be very friendly and nice,” Gursant Singh told me. “Bhajan could draw you in and be personable and make you feel like he was your father.” But he was also abusive he said. “He was demeaning. He would yell at us and he’d talk behind people’s backs all the time and stab them in the back to get things.”

Christa Houser described what Bhajan would call “psychic surgery.” It amounted to him very intensely screaming at his students. He would yell terrible things she said. “You cock-sucking, mother-fucking…just really perverted stuff at a very loud volume.” She said they were perfectly nice people who were subjected to his attacks. “It was total verbal abuse, total crudity.”

Pamela Sarah Dyson also noted the verbal abuse in her book. “I had often witnessed his verbal assaults on Bibiji, or Sat Simran or Soorya — they were his usual whipping posts. I was always offended by that behavior of his, and when I had private conversations with him, challenging those harsh and angry tirades, he would dismiss it as his way of teaching them.”

One time Tej Steiner missed a rent payment for the Toronto Kundalini ashram. Bhajan relentlessly verbally abused him in front of a group he claims. “It was a tirade,” Steiner said. “He was screaming and cursing at me saying I was a piece of shit, saying this is the guru’s house.” He said the shaming was horrible. “There’s no words” to describe the abuse he said. 

Jessica Canter said Bhajan berated her frequently. “He yelled at people regularly and I saw him hit people at times.” Those around her would justify Canter’s abuse by telling each other Bhajan was “helping her become more spiritually enlightened.”

“He was always insulting people in his lectures,” said Elandra Kristen Meredith. She and her husband Antion ran the San Diego ashram for 17 years. “We thought we deserved it.” She said he’d order someone to stand up and say “the most horrible stuff.” He would call women “whores and prostitutes in front of the whole group” exhibiting a “display of power for no reason.”

On one occasion Bhajan demanded that she and Antion immediately drive several hours from San Diego to Los Angeles. At great inconvenience to themselves, they drove there as quickly as they could. Once they arrived he told them “I could do whatever I want with you,” with a “really scornful” attitude Elandra said. He then “started hitting Antion with a stick over and over again all up and down over his body.” 

When Elandra and Antion decided to buy one of the homes owned by the San Diego ashram for their personal use it was planned that the money would be used to fund a larger spiritual center for the group. Bhajan had other plans. One morning he arrived with his entourage at 5 am using intimidation and demanding they immediately turn over the $170,000. It derailed the dreams of the San Diego members to grow and expand the center as they had wanted. “It was tragic and horrible,” Elandra said.

Antion Singh learned that Bhajan had criticized his students in front of a group of Punjabi’s in their language. Bhajan said to the Punjabi’s look at all the stupid followers as he pointed to his students. “They are like my poodles and will do anything I say,” Bhajan said in front of his students. 

Gursant Singh described a time when Bhajan sent his right-hand man to “strong-arm” a Hispanic couple into signing a contract to sell their house for much less than they had wanted. “He wouldn’t leave until they signed,” he said. He had no sympathy for the couple Gursant said and Bhajan sued them to try and reinforce the contract. The wife was even in bed sick with cancer.

Tej Steiner recalled that Bhajan bought the home where the Toronto ashram was based. Bhajan insisted it was in his own name, not in the name of the organization. It was purchased for $75,000 and Bhajan sold it for $650,000 years later Steiner said. “Bhajan pocketed all that money,” he told me. 

A woman who served as a secretary was coerced into giving her entire inherence of millions of dollars to Bhajan. It was this money that was used to buy the land and centers in Espanola and in Los Angeles.

Exploitation, Lies, and Domination

The accounts from former followers of Yogi Bhajan depict a grim portrait of a man who used anything and everything he could to exploit, abuse, control and dominate the very people who devoted their lives to him. Like so many other disgraced gurus his goal was money, sex, and power. And the hypocrisy was apparent. Bhajan was married with kids and claimed to be celibate but was sexually abusing his followers. He made his followers become vegetarian but hoarded an extensive collection of ivory and exotic animal furs. He organized drug-free America campaigns while he and his right-hand men imported twenty tons of marijuana. He preached a spiritual life yet hoarded millions in jewels and luxury cars. 

Bhajan lied and deceived his students from the very beginning. The ruse began with his fabricated back story as a “well-known holy man in India.” He told his followers larger than life mythical stories about himself and claimed to be the only original “Tantric” in the world. In reality, Yogi Bhajan was nothing ever more than a customs inspector who traveled to the U.S. in 1968. 

Scholar Philip Deslippe describes the ethos that Bhajan tapped into: 

“The late-Sixties were an incredible boom time for Eastern spiritual teachers in the West. For someone like Yogi Bhajan, charismatic, physically imposing, and offering the secrets of the mythical and dangerous kundalini energy, Los Angeles in 1969 was the right place at the right time. While Yogi Bhajan’s initial plans in America were to sell items to Hippies as part of an import/export business (fitting for a customs officer), he quickly made yoga his business. There seemed to be no limits to his growth among Hippies as a teacher in his own right, and with an almost franchise-like pattern, Yogi Bhajan offered an accelerated teacher training program consisting of only a few weeks, and then quickly dispatched his newly minted teachers across the country to open satellite 3HO ashrams. Soon, there were Kundalini Yoga teachers in a rapidly expanding list of college towns and major cities.”

Bhajan also claimed his Kundalini Yoga poses were part of an “ancient” and “secret” tradition. Many current teachers invoke this ancient lineage today. Philip Deslippe challenged this claim in his lengthy research article that explored the origins of Bhajan’s yoga. He concluded that Bhajan created his method by combining techniques from two modern teachers; Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari (1924–1994) and the Sikh Sant Maharaj Virsa Singh (1934–2007). Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga is not ancient or secret. 

Furthermore, Kate Felt stated in her lawsuit that Bhajan would literally make up yoga poses during a class as it progressed. 

Unbeknownst to his followers, Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga poses were his first strategic tactic designed to break them down. Using quick, repetitive breathing and motions the poses kept people in trance-induced states making them highly suggestible and disoriented.

From there Bhajan would “love bomb” his students, showing deep interest and care for them. As his students believed Bhajan was divine, a master teacher or God, this attention was extremely meaningful. 

And Bhajan hijacked the Sikh religion, twisting it for his own ends. “Yogi Bhajan’s teachings are closer to a synthesis of Kundalini yoga, tantric and New Age practices than anything originating from Sikh teachings,” writes Steven Hassan, a prominent cult expert. 

Once Bhajan had fabricated a divine backstory, manufactured a fake ancient yoga practice, stole from and twisted the Sikh tradition, and disoriented his followers with trance-inducing breathing techniques, he built a cult following around himself. He made up eclectic titles for himself like Siri Singh Sahib, spiritual leader of all Sikhs in the Western Hemisphere and gave out titles like Mukhia Singh Sahib(MSS), making himself and his followers seem important. Many of these kind-hearted spiritual seekers would end up being profoundly sexually, financially, physically and emotionally exploited by Bhajan. Some worked hundreds or thousands of hours over years for no money whatsoever. They helped build the foundation of what became the modern Kundalini movement and Bhajan’s multi-million dollar corporations such as Yogi Tea and Akal Security.  

Pervasive Influence

Yogi Bhajan’s “influence on everybody’s life was completely pervasive,” Gursant Singh said. For those that knew him or worked with him, it was hard to imagine an area of their lives that he couldn’t touch. Gursant Singh said Bhajan told Gursant’s wife “what to do, where to live, everything.” Christa Houser told me Bhajan “always had an answer for everything…who to marry, food advice, brushing your teeth.” Bhajan was the master and he “dictated everything” Gursant said. “Bhajan rarely let other people talk around him and he would interrupt you.”

Tej Steiner explains how Bhajan dominated everyone: 

“The primary means of control that Yogi Bhajan used with all of us was through endless prescriptive instruction. He had ‘teachings’ on every subject imaginable, including what kind of clothes to wear, how to eat and what to eat, what a certain posture or meditation would do for your spleen, nervous system or soul. He told us in which direction to sleep, how to cure allergies, depression and impotency, who to marry, how to educate our children, and, of course, how to go to the bathroom properly. There were thousands and thousands of these prescriptions. In fact, his teaching was almost entirely prescriptive. Do this and you will get that.

The more he kept giving us ways to do things, the more we saw him as a master teacher. This was his real secret of control.”

Mel Hofmann lived in the San Rafael Ashram for 9 months when she was 16. She said there were “strict rules” for the married adults in the ashram like “sex only once a month (during times of fertility), marriage only among members of the opposite sex, and showering with underwear on.”

Gursant Singh believes Bhajan was a calculating sociopath, a sentiment echoed by other former followers. “He had an agenda. He was a very clever businessman,” he said. It was hard to talk with him one on one Singh claims. “You could never really have a regular conversation with him. It was more like ‘he was the master’ and he dictated everything.” He continued, “Bhajan rarely let other people talk around him and he would interrupt you.”

Most of his followers believed Bhajan was a divine being or direct conduit of God. He was the master, they were the loyal and devoted students.

The first Summer Solstice gathering

Numerous ex-members report that he frequently told them they’d get sick and die if they left or disobeyed. Kate Felt stated in her lawsuit that Bhajan told her it was her “destiny” to be “sexually attacked and die in an auto accident” and become a prostitute if she left him. Moreso she claims Bhajan threatened to kill her if she spoke to any male friend or family member. Michael Eldan said Bhajan threatened to have him killed. 

Those who did leave were demonized by Bhajan. Bhajan said Pamela was a “fallen woman” and a prostitute who had succumbed to her second chakra once she left him. Several former followers I spoke with told me they too were ostracized and demonized after leaving. 

“Your devotion must be so pure, like that devotee who can just walk in on her teacher. Finding him naked and having intercourse with one of his female students, her response was to put a blanket over both of them, and quietly leave the room, closing the door behind her. That is the sign of a pure devotion. To see but not see.” — Yogi Bhajan

Hofmann said Bhajan once put her and other group members on a strict watermelon only diet for a week straight. She said they were then required to drink so much water that they threw up. Bhajan also put Hofmann on a greens only diet where she ate mostly green vegetables and split peas. “I felt like I was starving,” she said. Her menstrual cycle was absent for the entire 9 months that she lived in the ashram due to malnutrition and excessive exercise.

In her lawsuit, Kate Felt claims that Bhajan “routinely prescribed numerous bizarre and unhealthful fasts and diets” for her. It was done under the guise that he was “specially trained, as well as divinely inspired, to diagnose physical ills and ailments.”

Felt claims that the diets, breathing techniques and rites like reciting Bhajan’s name for hours left her “confused, demoralized and unable to clearly think or reason.”

Arranged Marriages

According to former members Yogi Bhajan arranged over 500 marriages in his time as a leader. He would call devotees his “daughters and sons” but he lacked any “personal feelings” for them and would carelessly match them in marriages. Christa Houser said she saw Bhajan arranging marriages regularly.

“I observed many arranged marriages. Yogi Bhajan would sit up on stage, especially in the early years, and simply point and say, ‘You! And you! Get married. Your auras look good together.’ This was often done in front of a very big audience you understand, and most of us went along with it because we believed he knew his stuff, that he could see things that we couldn’t see.”

A former member notes how it wasn’t just Bhajan, but rather the heads of ashrams who were involved in matching people up.

“The last day all of a sudden people were getting matched up…People were just astounded. These young couples were just stepping off the brink and people were amazed and very uncritical. By the next solstice, however, when there were even more arranged marriages it was a much less spontaneous thing. All the ashram heads, and more particularly the ashram heads’ wives were involved in these machinations over who should hook up with who. It was like trading baseball cards or something.”

One former member believes Bhajan would intentionally mismatch people to sow discord and then pit the partners against each other. There were “many sad matches” they claim.

Pamela Sarah Dyson also mentioned Bhajan’s arrangements in her book. “He was quick to match up any single men or women newly entering the fold. He would relocate people in the blink of an eye…” She said Bhajan would “turn lives upside down” while the inner circle would nod and repeat the mantra, “It’s all God’s Will.”

Tej Steiner, the former director of the Toronto ashram had an arranged marriage by Bhajan. It happened in a group, along with 7 other couples. He told me that Bhajan took him aside at the Solstice gathering and said he had the “perfect woman” for him. “This woman will allow you to fulfill your destiny personally and collectively,” Bhajan told him. “I would marry her but because I can’t I will give her to my favorite son,” Bhajan said. Their arranged marriage was “unhappy and a mismatch” Steiner said but they stayed together for 15 years and had two children. 

Bhajan also arranged marriages for his wealthy friends and benefactors, at times older men with girls as young as 18. One of them was Dr. Allen whom Bhajan lived with for many years on Preuss street in Los Angeles. 

Any marriages or partnerships were to be strictly heterosexual. This was just one of many traditional or more conservative elements of Bhajan’s methods.

Bhajan sent staff member Mani Niall at the age of 22 to get therapy with Sat Kaur and Hari Jiwan to explore his attraction for men. He said he was “grilled” by Jiwan with a “thinly veiled disdain” about his “sex life, sexual past” and “masturbatory fantasies.” Bhajan then called a staff meeting and in front of several other people said to Niall “So you want to be gay?” He said the “floor went out from under him” as Bhajan’s action was done with “maximum drama, public shame, and humiliation.” Bhajan proceeded to out Niall to his wife as gay and his best friend told him that she could no longer be friends with him. After years of working for and living with the community, he quickly became an outcast.

“Bhajan didn’t like homosexuals,” Steiner told me. Bhajan outed a woman in the group as being gay to Steiner. “I remember being so shocked that he was telling me that he couldn’t tell anyone that she was gay but he was telling me that.” Steiner said he knew Bhajan was manipulating him. 

Child Abuse & Children Swapping

Once Bhajan had haphazardly arranged marriages of his followers leaving their lives in turmoil he took their children from them. Bhajan heavily pressured his followers to send their children to live with families other than their own or to be sent to his special training schools in India where many were physically and emotionally abused. At the age of 18, the children were discouraged from attending college and pressured to work for free for Bhajan’s organization in New Mexico. It was all a calculated effort to break down the family, exploit labor and indoctrinate and groom the children for his personal and sexual gratification former members claim.

Tej Steiner sent his baby boy away at the age of 2 to the Washington D.C. ashram at the behest of Yogi Bhajan. This was a process called “children swapping” where kids would be sent to other families’ homes. “It was excruciatingly painful,” Steiner said. At the age of 7 he sent him to India where he stayed for five years. He and his wife also sent their daughter to India for a year at the age of 9. She was then sent to live with a family in New Mexico. “We were told that it was for the best,” Steiner said. “Bhajan convinced us we must protect them from the culture of sex and drugs and from our own parental neuroses.”

Jessica Canter’s parents sent her away at the age of two to live with a family at the Washington D.C. ashram. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was shuffled to Phoenix, Arizona and Espanola, New Mexico and finally to boarding school in India.

“Oh my god, the pressure was harsh,” Christa Houser said. “They would bring mothers up in front of hundreds of people and relentlessly pressure them until they said yes and agreed to send their kids to India.” She said she’d “never experienced peer pressure like that” in her life.

Former directors of the San Diego ashram, Elandra and Antion Meredith sent their two young daughters to India as a result of Bhajan and the groups “enormous” pressure Elandra said. “If we didn’t we were not good people or good Sikhs. We were disobedient.” When the daughters came home a few years later they were suffering from “severe PTSD” and were in “really bad shape.” One of them moved out at the age of 15. Both “totally rebelled against us and the organization,” Elandra said.

John Lamenzo recalls an instance when in 1983 approximately 153 children of Yogi Bhajan followers boarded a flight to Amritsar, India. He too was pressured into sending his daughters away. 

For some parents, sending their kids to India meant not seeing them for years. Only those who could afford the expensive trips could visit or bring their kids home during breaks. 

Like the others, Michael Eldan was duped into believing that sending his daughter away was good for her. He first sent her away to live in Espanola, New Mexico at the age of 9 and then to India at the age of 12. But he realizes it was a huge mistake. “I feel terrible about what happened,” he told me. “I have no pen on paper to describe my regret. A whole pack of paper wouldn’t be enough.” He paused as he became emotional. “I abandoned my daughter. And I believed in it and I was wrong. I ask for forgiveness.” 

Some of the children were subjected to a variety of physical and verbal abuses by Nanak Dev, the charismatic leader, and director of the school that Bhajan had appointed. Certain kids that he didn’t like suffered the worst abuse. “Dev was a charismatic guy with wild mood swings,” Jessica Canter told me. “He could be real fun or a real terror.” She said Dev and other men in the group were emulating Bhajan and could be loving one minute and abusive the next. 

A former child survivor describes the abuse. “We were beat and slapped by the Indian teachers and guides at GNFC, and were also made to do lots of bizarre corporal punishments, that had lots to do with awkward positioning and endurance.” GNFC stands for Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School, located in Mussoorie. It was one of three schools in India where kids were sent. 

3HO children forced to put men’s dirty socks in their mouths as a form of punishment

The same former child survivor says each child was forced to wake up at 4 am to do 1.5 hours of Kundalini Yoga followed by an hour of meditation. Any slight drop in their heads during the meditation was “reason enough to invite a swift blow from the cane” he states. “One minute I would be chanting, the next minute, I would be jarred awake after getting hit in the back, the pain taking a few seconds to register while my body woke back up.” It happened to both girls and boys.

One of John Lamenzo’s daughters describes how Nanak Dev abused her sister.

“One girl was forced to carry a rock dubbed the “Ego Rock” wherever she went, as punishment for talking back to him. She was also forced to stand in one place in the garden for an entire day, being monitored by some of the older boys. Afterwards, Nanak Dev would go out of his way in later yoga sessions to berate her and publicly humiliate her, something I knew all too well.”

She alleges Nanak Dev severely beat her sister as well. 

“And before that day of standing out there with a 20lb stone, she was locked up in a room and brutally assaulted by Nanak Dev. He pulled her by her hair, and he threw her back and forth, pounding on her chest and back, screaming at her and demanding her contrition. This went on for god-knows-how long, but long enough that Nanak Dev had two senior kids, Rama and Ravi (Kaur) keep watch outside the room where he was beating her up — a 12-year old girl. Why was she his target that day? Because she was running ‘too slow’ during the rounds they were forced to run after losing at soccer.”

3H0 still sends kids to a training center in India, called Miri Piri. Things have “dramatically changed” nowadays Christa said but the abusive legacy of Bhajan’s scheme still lives on and in 2015 there was a death of an instructor that 3HO tried to cover up. 

Breaking up families and tampering with relationships is a common trait found in cults. These methods are designed to keep the sole focus on the guru. 

[If you were sent away from your family or part of a family who sent children from the home please contact the author at if you’d like to share your story.]

Criminal Operations

Yogi Bhajan’s senior partners Hari Jiwan, Harijiwan, and Gurujot Singh Khalsa, in addition to other 3HO members, were charged with a variety of criminal activities including drug & weapons smuggling, fraud, and jewelry schemes. These three were some of the closest and most trusted associates of Bhajan. 

Smuggling Drugs & Weapons

Early one morning during Sadhna practice in 1987, a SWAT team burst into the Kundalini Ashram in Great Falls, Virginia with guns drawn, pointed at people’s faces. They yelled at everyone to lie on their bellies. The team apprehended Gurujot Singh Khalsa, head of the Ashram, and took him away in handcuffs. Singh, described as Bhajan’s “prince” and “defense minister” by Christa Houser, was director of the entire eastern region.

Unbeknownst to the Kundalini yoga teachers and students present that morning, Gurujot was involved in one of the largest international drug rings in history. Together with his co-conspirator Albert Ellis, who was also a follower of Bhajan, they made several trips to locations such as Hong Kong to arrange the purchase of 20 tons of marijuana worth millions of dollars from Thailand. The U.S. government complaint against Gurujot states that he also wanted to purchase numerous weapons, including a grenade launcher. The sellers were confidential informants however and the ship was seized by the coast guard with 22 tons of marijuana on board. A section of the complaint about Gurujot reads:

“Throughout late 1983 and 1984, defendant [Gurujot] made several trips to Thailand and Hong Kong to set up a 20 to 40 ton marijuana importation. The informants told defendant they would need $2 million front money. The defendant told them the money should be laundered in Hong Kong through a money launderer, Tom ODonnell…Between November 1983 and January 1984, over $1 million was fronted. During one meeting with CI#l, defendant asked if CI#l could get him pistols with silencers, an M 79 grenade launcher and an M 50 caliber machine gun.”

What was Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand man, defense minister, and director of the entire Eastern region of Kundalini Yoga doing traveling the world to make multi-million-dollar deals to import drugs and high caliber weapons? “No one did anything without Bhajan knowing about it or being involved,” Christa said. This was all Bhajan’s doing former members claim.

Members of the 3HO community mortgaged their homes and borrowed money to get Gurujot out on bail, adding financial stress to their lives. He did go to prison but was let out because he turned many in who were involved Christa Houser said.

Both Albert Ellis and Gurujot were mentioned in the book Reefer Men: The Rise & Fall of a Billionaire Drug Ring that chronicled the story in-depth. Author Tony Thompson describes the two Bhajan devotees: “Resplendent in their white turbans, long flowing robes and with ragged beards covering their faces and reaching all the way down to their bellies…” The book describes details such as how they traveled to Thailand to watch the marijuana packaging process unfold in the warehouse.

The cruel irony of Bhajan being involved with drug smuggling is that he was actively campaigning for a drug-free America and justified ripping children from their parents by telling them they needed to be sheltered from the mainstream drug culture.

Fraud & Jewelry Schemes

Smuggling drugs and guns weren’t Gurujot Singh Khalsa’s only offense. Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand man faced another criminal complaint in 1993 after he defrauded nine investors out of $491,000. According to the SEC filing, Gurujot, along with another 3HO member, Darshan Singh Khalsa, created a fake investment company and lied to Sikh community members to get them to invest money into their new company. They told investors their money would be invested in “Time Deposits,” but instead, they used the money to repay other debts.

In June of 1997, the FTC filed charges against Hari Jiwan, another of Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand men for scheming people into buying over-priced jewels and diamonds. Along with Jiwan, two other 3HO associates, Siri Ram Singh Khalsa, and Kirtan Singh were accused of defrauding people in what was dubbed “Project Field of Schemes” by authorities. Gursant Singh Khalsa describes what they found.

“In its complaint detailing the charges, the FTC alleged that the defendants routinely misrepresented the risk, value, appreciation, and liquidity of the gemstones they sold and falsely claimed that consumers would realize tremendous profits. In addition, the defendants falsely pledged that they could and would easily liquidate consumers’ gemstone portfolios after an 18-month holding period. In fact, according to the FTC, the defendants typically ceased all contact with consumers and refused to liquidate their gemstones after the 18-month period.”

Yogi Bhajan and Hari Jiwan buying and selling gemstones and jewelry at Jerry’s on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills California, a favorite spot for their business activities.

Yogi Bhajan and Jiwan did regular business at a jewelry store in Beverly Hills owned by a man named Jerry. Bhajan, Jiwan and Jerry would pressure followers to buy jewels. A former witness describes what would happen. “Bhajan and Jerry double-teamed people (not just the women), urging them to purchase things because they were ‘beautiful’ or ‘good for your aura.’”

“It was all about money for them,” Gursant Singh said. “Bhajan and Hari Jiwan were a pair of con men.” One time Bhajan tried to pressure Gursant into purchasing an expensive ring for several thousands of dollars. “Bhajan told me I was ‘naked’ because I wore no jewelry,” he said. He said he’s glad he did not give in to Bhajan’s pressure.

According to Gursant, Yogi Bhajan’s collection of jewelry alone was worth millions of dollars. He also had the largest collection of ivory in New Mexico and owned nearly twenty luxury cars, all Mercedes and Rolls Royces. Other former members confirm Bhajan’s obsession with luxury goods. In his book, Gursant Singh describes his astonishment at seeing the jewels for the first time at the Beverly Hills bank. He traveled there every week with another secretary.

“On my first visit to the bank, my eyes almost popped out of my head. Within the safety deposit boxes, I saw literally dozens of trays of expensive and ostentatious jewelry. Each week Yogiji demanded a fresh array of pendants, necklaces, and rings; different kinds of gemstones to align his auric body with the vibrations of different planetary positions and conjunctions. It was highly scientific and Yogiji had it all figured out.”

Another of Bhajan’s right-hand men, prominent Kundalini teacher also named Harijiwan Singh Khalsa (with no space between Hari and Jiwan), was sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding companies into paying fake, overpriced invoices for printer cartridges. Dubbed the “toner bandit” by the media he served 18 months. Bhajan put him in charge of Yogi Tea for awhile. Harijiwan’s band White Sun won a grammy award in 2017.

Harijiwan Singh Khalsa (right)

Akal Security

The primary organization that oversees all Kundalini related business, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, runs a multi-billion dollar security company called Akal security that has worked with ICE to detain and ship migrants. It was founded in 1980 by two 3HO members Gurutej Singh Khalsa and Daya Singh Khalsa. Akal is now one of the largest private military companies in existence and has secured very large contracts with the U.S. government and military.

In 2015 a Kundalini teacher organized a petition and movement to stop Akal from working with ICE. The petition demands that the Kundalini organization sever any ties with the prison industrial complex: “immediately divest from all financial interest in ICE in order to end any profiting or appearance of profiting from mass incarceration & detention. We also call on SSSCorp and Akal Security to eliminate any business relationships, associations, and contracts associated with the detention of human beings in the prison-industrial complex, which disproportionately affects communities of color including immigrants and now asylum seekers.”

Amrit Singh Khalsa is a Director and finance chair of Akal Security and served on the board of Siri Singh Sahib Corporation for six years.

“I am a warrior and the Guru’s slave. This is the battle that faces us and if, by Guru’s Grace, my skills and talents can be of use, I only exist to serve the Sahd Sangat.”— Amrit Singh Khalsa, Akal board director

In his article Questions About Akal Security Phillip Tanzer asks a poignant question: “Should a nonprofit, tax-exempt church oversee a for-profit security contractor tasked with enforcing ICE policies?” He describes how Akal saved money by employing ICE detainees. “[Akal] also saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars by implementing a national policy of using jailed migrants as a source of cheap labor. Not convicted criminals, mind you; these were simply ICE detainees serving food and scrubbing floors for $1 dollar a day. For years.”

Unsolved Murders & Suspicious Deaths

In 2012, Oscar Galvez, an instructor at MiriPiri, the Kundalini Yoga school in India for 3HO member children was found dead in a bathroom at the school. Alarm bells were raised when 3HO wouldn’t send the body back and started covering things up Christa told me. “When they finally got the body back it was completely mutilated from organ theft.” The body had no heart, kidneys, stomach or prostate. The family, from Chile, was furious and frustrated Christa said. His death remains unsolved as they couldn’t perform an autopsy due to the state of the body. Chilevision did a fifteen-minute news segment on Galvez and his suspicious death. Some believe Galvez was murdered and the organ theft/body mutilation was done to cover it up. The family stated that the managers of Miri Piri may have pulled off the “perfect crime.”

Guru Preet Singh was involved in the Eugene Oregon Kundalini ashram and was found murdered in the trunk of his car in September 1987. Not long before, Bhajan had arranged a marriage for Guru Preet. The associated press reported that he was a “major drug dealer” and had “made a 45-minute call to a friend in Salem who apparently was involved in the Sikh religion.” This was allegedly a call to Gurujot Singh, the right-hand man of Bhajan busted in the international drug ring. A member known as “Deep Turban” who spent time with Guru Preet before he was killed claims that the murder was connected with Gurujuot’s and Bhajan’s drug ring. 

As described earlier, 3HO members Albert Ellis and Gurujot Singh Khalsa were arrested for drug and weapon smuggling. In 2009 Albert Ellis’ son was murdered in unexplainable fashion when someone shot him at point-blank range. No motive or suspect was ever discovered. The killing could be random but given Ellis’ background as international drugs and arms dealers, former group members are suspicious. 

Master of Deceit

“I just share with you what God channels through me. Do not misunderstand me, I am not the one who is speaking. I’m just a humble servant. Rather, it is the God working through me.” — Yogi Bhajan

It’s become clear that an entire generation of spiritual seekers has been duped by a customs inspector from India who manipulated, raped, sexually assaulted and abused them. Nearly everything he did, from the yoga poses to the peculiar prescriptions and the schools in India was designed to destroy, disrupt and diminish his followers so he could better control them. Bhajan lived a life of luxury, unhindered sexual pursuits and fame while his followers suffered enormously. His stroke of evil genius was convincing them the abuse was spiritual growth. Yogi Bhajan was a master of deceit, not a master of spirituality. 

In a post on Facebook Wild Mountain Yoga Center the director called out the wider Kundalini organizations for being complicit in the abuse:

“It has become overwhelmingly clear that Yogi Bhajan, and the organizations he founded are involved in a deceptive-web of sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse, lies, and corruption. Moreover the organizations he started are complicit in abuse, hiding information, turning-a-blind-eye, slandering and harassing victims, and even at this very moment distorting, hiding, and rationalizing facts amidst a 3rd-party investigation.”

Matthew Remski, author of the book “Practice and All is Coming” about cults and Pattabhi Jois’ abuse, warns that “one of the biggest obstructions to justice in yoga abuse crises is the false belief that reform can come from within an abusive organization.” He continues. “Anyone who remains faithful to the internal logic and affect of the group to want it to be perpetuated will be allergic to the very questions that disturb that logic and affect.”

Gursant Singh is calling for a “truly independent investigation” into all of the Yogi Bhajan related institutions. “The Yogi Bhajan cult of personality needs to end and a restorative justice program must be implemented as a way to compensate victims and mitigate the incredible amount of damage Yogi Bhajan did.”

The Siri Singh Sahib Corporation has made millions of dollars through its various companies like Akal Security, Yogi Tea, and other ventures. All victims should be financially compensated for their pain and suffering and for costs related to healing and recovery.

Nobody listened to Tej Steiner’s warning 32 years ago. Just think of how different everything could have turned out. Thus, if you become aware of abuse in a yoga or spiritual organization, don’t ignore it. If you act, you may alter the course of history and change lives forever.

NOTE: A follow-up article is being written. If you were abused by Yogi Bhajan, were sent away from your family or have anything you would like to share with an independent researcher please contact the author at


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P.I. Molly Monahan Hired by Cult Leader Aaravindha to Ruin Cult Reporter Be Scofield



Bellingham, WA Private Investigator Molly Monahan of Sirius Investigations is willing to work for cults. She’s been hired by cult leader Aaravindha Himadra to find negative information and intel about prominent cult reporter Be Scofield. Aaravindha teaches in Bellingham, where many of his followers currently live. The town is just a few hours from his home on Orcas Island.

Monahan is using her position in UU institutional leadership circles to find and contact former classmates of Scofield from Starr King looking for dirt and intel. Several report being called by Monahan, who claims on her website that she “can talk even the most reluctant sources into supplying details.” She has also discussed her ability to locate people. It was made clear she didn’t want Scofield or the general public knowing about her investigation.

In 2019 Scofield exposed Aaravindha’s cult and the suspicious death / potential murder of his student Carla Jean Shaffer on Orcas. The story sent shockwaves through San Juan Island communities. Both the Island Sounder and San Juan Islander covered Aaravindha’s frivolous $250,000 lawsuit against Scofield which he subsequently lost. Aaravindha also hired a ghostwriter to create a smear campaign against Scofield which failed. Now he has employed the services of Monahan, a professional private investigator to find dirt on Scofield. 

Both Scofield and Monahan have long been affiliated with Unitarian Universalism. Monahan is a lifelong UU who served on a UUA executive committee about the youth movement in 1972. Scofield graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry, a Berkeley based UU seminary in 2014. There she studied closely with author Rebecca Parker and taught a graduate course on Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s creepy to know that someone is tracking you and harassing former classmates to dig up dirt,” Scofield said. “And then to learn that it’s being done by a fellow UU is really disappointing.”

Scofield’s cult reporting has led to the shutting down of some of the largest cults and exposed numerous rapists in the tantra / sacred sexuality communities. Her journalism has garnered over 1 million views in the last year or so and stories based on her work have appeared on The Guardian, The Daily Mail, CNN, the New Zealand Herald, VICE and Playboy. 

Monahan is also the executive director of the Bellingham non-profit Pass the Hat and has done work for a Netflix drama called Evil Genius and has been “hired by CNN for work used by Anderson Cooper.”

A Critique of Abraham Hicks & the Law of Attraction

New Age guru Abraham Hicks has made many shocking and disturbing statements about rape, slavery, 9/11 victims and Holocaust deaths. She claims “less than 1% of rapes” are “true violations” and the rest are attractions. Hicks believes slavery was “the beginning of a journey that was better” and part of an “overall improvement in humanity.” She says “AIDS is the physical manifestation of not liking yourself.” Hicks and others like Rhonda Byrne, creator of “The Secret,” have taken a partial truth and concretized it into a religious absolutist system known as the Law of Attraction and made millions in the process. The teaching is harmful and a form of spiritual bypassing.

[This article is based on countless hours of research and writing. Please consider donating to support these efforts.]

Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency / FULL BIO / Contact:


Recipe For Success

Exactly fifty years prior to the publication of the best selling book and DVD The Secret, Earl Nightingale released a vinyl record in 1956 that set the motivational world on fire. It was called The Strangest Secret and it shared the same fundamental premise as Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 The Secret; we become what we think about and our thoughts create our reality. His self-written and recorded LP sold over 1 million copies making it the first-ever spoken word album to achieve gold status. After his phenomenal success, Nightingale went on to form Nightingale-Conant which became one of the largest self-help audiobook publishers ever. With only a one-word difference between the names did Byrne steal Nightingale’s title and message? We may never know but they are undoubtedly two of the biggest and most successful proponents of the Law of Attraction in the modern era.

New-age guru Esther Hicks, who claims to channel 100 entities known as Abraham is the other largest force behind the spread of the Law of Attraction. One of these entities is supposedly Jesus, another Buddha. Now 71 years old, she is also one of the most well-known figures in modern spirituality, traveling the world speaking to massive sold-out crowds. The late Dr. Wayne Dyer said Abraham are “great Masters of the Universe,” while Louise Hay, founder of the popular Hay House publisher said they are “some of the best teachers on the planet today.”

“That which Jesus was, Esther is” – Abraham

Just like Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, the uniqueness of Esther Hicks and her teachings as Abraham don’t seem to be all that original, however. She too got her schtick from elsewhere.

Before Abraham was manufactured, Esther and her husband Jerry had several visits with a woman named Sheila Gillette who claimed to channel a group of twelve Archangels called THEO. Sheila acknowledges the origins herself, “Within a year of Esther’s experience with THEO, she began channeling ABRAHAM.” The channeled voice of Abraham was remarkably similar in accent, style, and content as THEO. “I was captivated by what I heard from Theo,” Esther said. The precedent had been set. The husband and wife team of Sheila and Marcus Gillette built a following and business channeling a cosmic entity using an accent. Esther and Jerry took note.

Sheila Gillette channeling THEO and her husband Marcus.

Esther also took a page from the books of Jane Roberts who claimed to channel an entity known as Seth. Author David Stone claims that Abraham is merely a dumbed-down version of Seth.

“Not long after their marriage, Jerry introduced Esther to Jane Roberts’ Seth books. Roberts claimed to be channelling an entity with traits in common with the soon to arrive Abraham. The primary distinction separating the two is that Seth is much pithier, more complex and original than Abraham, a supposed entity that often seems to voice nothing more profound than a simplified rehash of Roberts’ Seth.

Abraham, in fact, sometimes reads like dumbed down Seth, a digest constructed for easier mass consumption. Esther recalls Jerry reading out loud from the Seth books in bed, tickling her toes under the covers.”

Jerry was also heavily influenced by new thought teachings such as Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich prior to the emergence of Abraham. In Hill’s book, The Law of Success he uses the exact phrase “the Law of Attraction” 11 times. Yet both Jerry and Esther claim the first time they ever heard the term was from Abraham. Stone argues that Jerry was the motivating force behind creating Abraham and that he edited and helped write the books.

From Amway to NYT Bestselling Author

Why did Rhonda Byrne and the Hicks’s become world-famous multi-millionaires while Sheila and THEO never did? They had something Sheila and her husband didn’t: extensive experience marketing and selling product. Byrne was an infomercial and TV producer prior to creating The Secret. She knew how to dazzle an audience with presentation and packaging. Jerry was a prominent Amway salesman who was married to a highly successful Amway saleswoman named Trish. And Esther was Trish’s bookkeeper, thus she was also heavily immersed in the culture. Amway was a prominent multi-level marketing business known for its pyramid marketing scheme.

Former Abraham Hicks devotee turned critic Kyra explains that Amway salespeople made most of their money selling “motivational materials” such as Think and Grow Rich and audiobooks about them to new recruits, not from the product itself. “This is how [Jerry] became a Crown level with his former wife Trish. Not from selling soaps, appliances, etc. But from selling his motivational courses, tickets to “business presentations”, and tapes like so many Amway distributors did before him.” Amway salespeople were required to purchase one motivational self-help book a month.

“They worked for Amway, selling motivational materials to their recruits/distributors (aka “business associates”), and then Abraham mystically happened to them and they just started selling their own Abraham materials to their associates. And as their business associates recruited new people, they sold more, and then, like any Amway “business”, it just got bigger and bigger till they decided to take their act on the road, so that now they are on the New York Times Best Seller list.”

The recipe for success was laid out for Esther and Jerry. They got the style, accent, and initial content from THEO, more specific teachings came from Seth and they used their Amway sales and marketing background to launch Abraham into the world. They knew the scheme would work because as Kyra states, “Jerry and Esther were already giving workshops, holding seminars, and touring the country with Jerry’s Amway business presentations.”

Cult Dynamics

David Stone suggests that Esther and Jerry were originally experimenting with cult-like elements to test the waters. Esther, via Abraham, used to make prophecies about natural disasters and gave specific dates (none of which came true) and these were edited out of later editions of her first book. In her early days she would scream in an authoritarian manner and she no longer does. She also no longer circles and bobs her head in dramatic fashion at the beginning of her sessions as she originally did.

A New-Age Cash Cow

The Law of Attraction and related works are a big-money business. Nightingale sold 1 million records while The Secret has sold over 30 million copies. Esther and Jerry Hicks became multi-millionaires. Think and Grow Rich has sold over 20 million copies. Oprah and Larry King profited by featuring The Secret cast several times. Many modern spiritual teachers have also profited from the concept. Presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson even cashed in on the phenomenon with her 2012 book The Law of Divine Compensation. It merely regurgitated a lot of the same non-sensical beliefs as The Secret. She states,

“The Fairy Godmother didn’t order a limo; she turned a pumpkin into a coach and mice into horsemen. Whatever Cinderella needed, the universe took care of it. The Fairy Godmother didn’t have to order a dress or call out for a car because the universe miraculously transformed existing material. That’s how the universe operates. Cinderella, despite her circumstances as a servant, had the mind-set of the miraculous. And so miracles came to her.”

Williamson literally invoked fairy tales to describe her understanding of how the world works. She was in good company with The Secret.

The money was so big in the Law of Attraction scene it led to a split between Byrne and Hicks. The original version of The Secret actually featured Esther. But once Byrne saw the massive profits to be made she forced all presenters to turn over their intellectual property rights, meaning they’d receive no compensation. Hicks’ original contract gave her 10% which was $500,000 at the time. Byrne gave her an ultimatum: she could either turn over her rights or be edited out. Hicks decided to be removed from the film and said the way Bryne handled the situation was “not nice.” As a result of Bryne’s power-play money grab, she became the sole profiter of those 30 million products sold.

Shocking & Disturbing Statements by Abraham Hicks

There are many ridiculous, outrageous, offensive and shocking statements made by Esther Hicks, Rhonda Byrne, and Law of Attraction teachers. From delusional and fantasy-based ideas that you can manifest cars, bikes or diamonds in an instant to horrible statements blaming victims for abuse and rape, there are a wide range of terrible comments made by these new-age prophets. Hicks says humans and dinosaurs once roamed the earth together and denies evolution and that humans evolved from an earlier species. They have gotten away with them because, in part, they are “spiritual teachers” who are often shielded from critique. Had a politician or public official made these same comments they’d immediately be forced to resign. And these statements reported here are certainly only a small percentage of the horrible things Hicks has said throughout her career.


On several occasions, Esther Hicks via Abraham has stated that if a woman or even a little girl were raped or sexually assaulted it came about because they attracted it to themselves. These quotes are taken from various talks she has given.

“It is less than 1% of the actual rape cases that are true violations, the rest of them are attractions and then a changing of intention later…”

“As this man is raping it is our promise to you this is a disconnected being, it is also our promise to you is the one he rapes is a disconnected being…” 

“We believe that this subject [of rape] is really talking about the mixed intentions of the individual, in other words, she was wanting the attention, she was wanting the attraction, she was really wanting all of it and attracted more than she bargained for and then as it is occurring or even after feeling differently about it…”

A woman asked Hicks during a talk how she could have attracted being sexually molested as a little girl. Hicks responded by saying that we all create our reality and that early “contrast” i.e. suffering is a way to accelerate spiritual growth. 

“No one ever wants to hear that they are the creator of their reality when things are not the way they want them to be. But we cannot say you are the creator of your own reality sometimes and sometimes you are not. Everything that comes, comes in response to your vibration. What people mostly don’t realize about the creation of children is that children are offering vibration even when they are not offering words. You pick up your vibration from those who surround you, from what you hear. You pick up your vibration and you offer your vibration…Why would some child with all of this innocence negatively attract? We say because you came forth thinking you had free will to think. And you would not give up your free will to attract wanted or unwanted by having someone else making all of the decisions of what should come to you…Also, you hit the ground running and there isn’t anything that causes streams to move faster than early contrast, there isn’t anything that puts more into your vibrational escrow than early experience. “

When responding to a question on Oprah’s radio show about how the Law of Attraction would lead to a young girl attracting her own rape and murder, Hicks responded by saying parents don’t teach their children how to think properly and they are influenced by the negative thinking of the adults around them. She told Oprah, “If they are listening to the guidance within they could not comfortably ever settle on the thoughts that would lead them to attract something unwanted.” What was also surprising was Oprah’s complete lack of a response. She said “OK” and moved on. 

Hicks has also claimed that protesting rape or rapists is what actually attracts rape. She says standing on pedestals protesting merely spreads rape “outwards.” Hicks also says that unless we can understand a rapists motives we have no right to critique him. 

“Attention to people being raped and a feeling of irritation and irateness or anger at such injustice is the very vibration that causes you to attract it into your own experience. Give your experience to things you don’t want and it becomes your experience, it is law. Most whoever who have had that sort of experience will not allow themselves to look at the positive aspects and would rather gather together with others in groups and talk about the injustice of it. They’d rather stand on platforms and vibrate in a place of disconnection from who they are. And you can tell they are disconnected by the crummy way they feel. As they shout their outrage or cry their tears of pain. So, as they’re involved in this trauma and disconnectedness they spread disconnectdness and future rape outward. Whereas if you can acknowledge it as your attraction and understand how you attracted it, then instead of standing on platforms and spreading rape you can stand on platforms and spread deliberate control… Where is your time better placed? Abbhoring rapists? Joining panels that scout them out and persecute them? Or is your time better spent in finding the harmony of your own vibration? Do you have the right to eradicate a rascal? Can you understand his motives? And if you can’t understand his motives, do you have any plausible right or ability to tell him what to do or what not to do?”

In her book The Law of Attraction, she echoes a similar sentiment. “And so, if there is one who gives much thought to, or one who speaks much about rape, then it is very likely that they will be the “victim,” by their words, of such an experience. Because, by Law, you attract unto you the essence.”

Race and Slavery

In response to a question about slavery and how an entire population could have attracted such tragedy to themselves, Hicks replies by saying it was the start of something better. 

“Do you think it would be accurate to say that many of the descendants of some of those who were brought here in slavery are now living in a much better environment than if they’d stayed there? It’s really hard to believe that whole cultures of people could have things in their vortex that would call them to it that would be part of an overall improvement of humanity...Some of that trauma and tragedy that they are wanting to condemn, if you could make peace with it and acknowledge it was the beginning of a journey that was better then the improvement could be yours today, but the determination to condemn it as wrongdoing on whoever’s part you want to point the condemnation toward holds you in the place in not receive the benefit they all cared so much about in that they were willing to live it in order to create it.”

During a talk, an African-American woman asked Hicks about how she should teach slavery to her kid. “He could go to school and daydream,” she replied. “None of that [slavery] has anything to do with him,” and “he won’t have to deal with it” she continued. Hicks proceeded to equate the teaching of African-American history with a family legacy of passing down “bad” feelings. She then blamed Martin Luther King Jr. for his own death. Hicks stated, “He lost sight of his dream momentarily…he began to push against. And when one pushes against in a very fast-moving stream abrupt things happened…It’s trying to get others to agree with us about our dreams that causes backlash.”

At an event, Hicks was asked about the cause of prejudice and discrimination and she said the one being discriminated against attracts it to themselves. “More often, the one who feels discriminated against is the most powerful creator in that experience. The being who feels that others do not like him — for whatever reason — whether it is religion, race, gender, or social status . . . no matter what the reason is that he feels that he is being discriminated against — it is his attention to the subject of the prejudice that attracts his trouble.


In response to a question from a participant about the Holocaust Hicks replies that the Jews who were killed were partially responsible. 

All of them were co-creators in the process. In other words everyone that was involved in it did not die, many of them who were well connected with their inner beings were inspired to zig and zag. Many of them left the country.” 

In another talk, a woman asks Hicks a similar question about the Holocaust. “How did six million people of Jewish descent attract such despair and suffering that they endured?” Hicks replies by saying that many did not die because of vibrational differences amongst them.

“For everyone that died in that way there were many, many, many more who didn’t. In other words, it didn’t happen to everyone, so why didn’t happen to everyone? Because there were vibrational differences among them you see. How can that many people have that negative experience? Because you hang around with each other and you talk similarly, and you get a similar vibration going and you dovetail into the currents of things and then inevitable things happen.” 

Hicks also said that people were creating “future holocausts” by talking about victimhood, injustice, and unfairness. She even went on to say that the countries being bombed by George Bush were attracting it to themselves by their negative emotions. 

9/11 Terrorist Attacks

In response to a question about how so many people could have simultaneously attracted their deaths on 9/11 Hicks says that someone couldn’t wake up “happily vibrating” and walk into a building like the World Trade Center. 

“How would it be that so many would find themselves a vibrational match to something? That is what vibrational matches are about. All of the elements that have culminated in that eggarated experience have been percolating. It has been in the making. In other words you don’t just wake up one morning and be vibrating happily ever after and just walk into a situation like that. You don’t just wake up one morning vibrating happily ever after and find yourself working in a building where previous bomb threats have even happened.” 

She also stated that one could see clearly how the Law of Attraction applies when looking at all the factors. 

“When you think about the WTC and you acknowledge that it has been a target before, that there have been experiences there before, that trauma has surrounded it before, that some who are there are offering some similar vibration around that. When you think about the turmoil that has been happening around the airlines, when you think about the air rage that has been pulsing, as you have access to specific information about many factors that all culminated in that, as you address it from your knowledge of law of attraction suddenly things come into clear view.” 

Hicks also said that if the questioner understood the personal history of everyone killed in the attack it would be much easier to understand how the Law of Attraction was at play. And she said because “only” several thousand of the workers died and not the full 20,000 who were in the buildings that it was clear the Law of Attraction was involved.  

Assault and Murder

In this passage from Hicks’ book The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham Jerry asks Hicks how innocent victims of robbery attract it to themselves. 

“Jerry: I can understand robbers being attracted to those they’re robbing, but it’s difficult to see innocent victims (as they’re called) attracting the robbery, or the person being discriminated against attracting the prejudice. 

Abraham: But they are, just the same. The assaulted and the assaulter are co-creators of the event.

In a video, Hicks also blames people who are murdered for attracting their own death. 

“Every death is suicide because every death is self-created. No exceptions. Even if someone comes up and puts a gun to you and kills you. You have been a vibrational match to that.

And another example. “Unless you invite them through your thought, aggressors will not be part of your experience. That is Law, in your physical setting or in our Non-Physical setting.”

Gay Marriage

A lesbian woman who asks Hicks about gay marriage is told: “what is that stupid piece of paper anyway?” She responds that it is important because of wills, taxes and social security. Hicks replies with “that is all shortage consciousness.” The woman says to her “but, how do you create change in the world?” Hicks goes on to derail this woman’s interest in legalizing gay marriage. She tells her she has to stop pushing against. “Every time you say 35 states and 42 this and 152 that, you use that evidence to split your vibrational escrow.”


Hicks claims that people with AIDS attracted it to themselves and that it is the “physical manifestation of not liking oneself.”

Jerry’s Death & Multiple Wives

Because Jerry and Esther have made a career of lecturing others about how negative things in their lives come from their thoughts, their own personal lives are fair game for analysis.

Jerry had at least five wives and even told an interviewer he “lost count” of how many he had. Is this evidence of an expert in practicing the Law of Attraction?

Esther via Abraham also has lectured her followers about not needing health insurance or traditional medicines. She’s stated, “The ultimate health insurance is ‘just get in the vortex’ but so many people don’t even know about the vortex.” On March 2nd, 1997 Hicks said, “In reality, we have never encouraged Jerry or Esther to take any sort of medication or medical treatment because we know it is easier to teach them with what they know how to find their vibrational harmony with energy.” When Jerry got leukemia he went on a high dose regimen of chemo which he referred to as the “big guns,” seemingly contradicting the teachings of Abraham. One must wonder why he didn’t just use the “vortex” as Esther preached to her susceptible followers. Hicks has said, “You could be diagnosed with every deadly disease known to man — but you could be lying in your bed in a state of utter allowance, and allow the Energy of Source to flow through to the cells of your body — and you would have an instant healing!” Jerry died from cancer in November 2011.

The Secret Presenters Disturbing Statements

“The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.” -Rhonda Byrne

In an interview with Nightline News anchor Cynthia McFadden, The Secret commentator Bob Proctor states that the country of Darfur has starving children because they have manifested it on a level of thought. Thus, negative or “bad” thinking has caused children to starve. He goes on to claim that he could teach them how to think properly because “the child in Darfur probably doesn’t even know anything about thinking.”

In The Secret, Proctor states rich people are wealthy because they know The Secret.

“Why do you think that 1 percent of the population earns around 96% of all of the money that’s being earned? Do you think that’s an accident? It’s designed that way. They understand something. They understand the Secret, and now you are being introduced to The Secret.”

Rhonda Byrne confirms this line of thought when speaking about those who have money, “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.”

In an interview, Byrne states that those stated killed on 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina attracted it to themselves.

“In responding to the question about events where massive numbers of people are killed, there are a few important points to consider. First, there is no one to blame…In a large-scale tragedy, like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc., we see that the law of attraction responds to people being at the wrong place at the wrong time because their dominant thoughts were on the same frequency of such events. Now, this doesn’t mean that they thought of the same exact event, but if their dominant thoughts and feelings were in alignment with the energy of fear, separation, powerlessness and having no control over outside circumstances, then that is what they attracted.”

Another Secret presenter, James Arthur Ray, claims that “many” Jews didn’t think the Holocaust was that bad, “I know many people, for instance, of the Jewish faith and heritage, who don’t necessarily believe that the Holocaust was bad.” He continues, “Now, that might, that might be shocking to you, but I’ve had — I have people on record who have said, ‘Hey, there was a lot of good things that came out of that, a lot of lessons, a lot of opportunities for the world.’” He said similar things about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “I’m suggesting to you that there’s every bit as much good in 9/11 as there was bad.” In 2011 Ray was convicted of negligent homicide in the deaths of three of his students who died on his retreat in a sweat lodge he mismanaged.

Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series describes the fruits of using the Secret while images of his Malibu mansion are shown in the background,

“Since I learned the Secret and started applying it to my life, my life has truly become magical…I live in a four-and-a-half million dollar mansion…I get to vacation in all the fabulous spots of the world. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve explored. I’ve been on safaris. And all of this happened, and continues to happen, because of knowing how to apply The Secret.”

Secret presenter Michael Beckwith makes astonishing claims about the power of the Law of Attraction, “I’ve seen kidneys regenerated. I’ve seen cancer dissolved. I’ve seen eyesight improve and come back.” And The Secret itself states “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness.”

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction is the quintessential form of spiritual bypassing. It requires you to avoid, deny and suppress anything that is perceived to be negative. The end result is the creation of a robot-like person who has disconnected from the reality of their humanness. This means trauma and wounds will go unhealed because they cannot be sufficiently processed. Moreso it means someone will constantly be guarding themselves, interrogating their mind and in a state of paranoia about their thoughts. They are left in a state of worry, monitoring their inner dialogue because their quasi-religious belief system has taught them it is a dangerous place in which any wrong thought can lead to a disaster. This is Calvinism 2.0.

Psychotherapists have described how they’ve seen patients who use the Law of Attraction get sucked into shame spirals. What this means is that people become even more depressed when their efforts to use the Law of Attraction don’t work. Since practitioners are taught that the law is perfect, then any failure must be due to the user. Thus, the person depressed from having cancer or heavy debt becomes even more depressed when they think they’re a failure for being unable to apply the Law of Attraction properly and fix their situation. The system sets a high bar and practitioners can easily get down on themselves for not following it perfectly. Similar shame spirals have happened with people practicing Byron Katie’s The Work.

Not only can the Law of Attraction lead someone to bypass their own pain but it can lead them to bypass harmful or negative behavior of their partners or people in their lives. The Secret asks us to write down all of the positive qualities of an abusive partner for example. Thus, the important acts of discernment and judgment in a harmful relationship are dismissed as “negative.” A practitioner may try to spin a clearly problematic or dangerous situation in a positive light. Anger, frustration, fear or sadness about what is happening is portrayed as negative and could be dismissed or denied. 

And what about people who suffer from severe phobias? Wouldn’t the Law of Attraction predict that someone who is constantly obsessed with the fear of car crashes would quickly get into a car accident? And what sort of divine or universal intelligence is this that would punish someone further who is deeply struggling with a mental illness like a phobia by then sending them negative experiences?

Most importantly, research in psychology has shown that this devout adherence to positive thinking isn’t supported by the data. As Mark Manson describes in his article “The Staggering Bullshit of The Secret.” 

“But this prescription for ‘delusionally positive’ thinking can have negative consequences for people as well. Psychological research shows that trying to suppress thoughts about something only makes those thoughts more likely to recur. In fact, rumination and obsession appear to operate in this manner, especially in people with chronic mental disorders like OCD, depression, and anxiety: the more you try to get rid of unwanted thoughts, the more these thoughts dominate your mental space. It’s like if I tell you, “Never think about a pink elephant!” the first thing that likely pops into your mind is a pink elephant. Thinking about the things you do not want can lead to more negative thinking and put you in a vicious cycle of negativity.

Research also shows that actively engaging in positive thinking, such as when you imagine getting a job, doing well on an exam, or even successfully recovering after surgery, can actually result in poorer outcomes. Psychologists think that this kind of delusional positive thinking can make us complacent and lazy, as though we already accomplished something we have yet to accomplish, causing us to put forth less effort and to feel less motivated.

Other studies show that people who engage in “self-affirmations” and are then presented with information that threatens their affirmation (even healthy criticism or feedback) actually engage in more faulty reasoning than people who don’t use self-affirmations. In fact, people who indulge in delusional positive thinking ironically become downright angry when someone tries to contradict their wall of airy-fairy thoughts. The truth about their situation just becomes that much more painful to them.”

How Does It Actually Work?

Proponents of the Law of Attraction never tell us how it really works. Do seven “negative” thoughts from yesterday mean seven “negative” experiences today? Or do negative thoughts from two weeks ago affect the current moment? Or is it only negative thoughts from the last few hours that could attract something like a car accident in the present? What if the mix of negative and positive thoughts are equal in a day? Is the impact canceled out? What if your overall “vibration” is “low” and you are chronically depressed, mopy and anxious but you manipulate your mental reality by rehearsing positive thoughts in your mind throughout the day? Is it the actual thoughts or the overall energy vibration that matters most? 

We have tens of thousands of thoughts each day, some of which may be considered negative, neutral or positive. Take the seven billion people on the planet and multiply it by the tens of thousands of thoughts they have each day and you have an almost unfathomable puzzle to solve. Who or what is computing all of this and assigning positive and negative experiences to each of the seven billion people’s lives? Does god send a lighting bolt down for someone who is thinking negative thoughts? A pony for a little girl who is behaving well? Death via a murder to someone who had one too many negative thoughts? While Hicks and other modern new-age thinkers denounce the draconian ethics of traditional religion their own beliefs end up sounding a lot like them. 

Proponents have also never offered a clear explanation of what exactly qualifies as a negative or positive thought or emotion. Sometimes we hear cliche statements like anger, hatred or jealousy are negative. But those are just part of being human. They arise in response to real-world events. Certainly one could overly dwell on some thoughts but it is human to experience reactions to life’s stimuli. If you didn’t get into the school of your dreams it is perfectly human to feel upset and disappointed. But the Law of Attraction proponents would argue that this is “negative” and would attract bad things to your life. In reality, one’s psychological state would be detrimentally impacted by avoiding the fullness of who they are.

While we can manipulate our thoughts, we cannot manipulate our emotions. This is why the idea of “negative” emotions is not accurate. There is no such thing as a negative emotion. There are just emotions that arise inside of us. Perhaps difficult emotion is a better word for those experiences that we find unpleasant. One cannot control the emotions arising, they can only choose to experience and process them or not. Being real about what is happening and meeting it with compassion and understanding is a much wiser approach than attempting to cut off or control reality. 

The “Law” of Attraction?

The Law of Attraction is by no meaningful definition a law. At best it is a hypothesis which is defined by Google as a “supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.” Yet, author Jack Canfield claims it is “the most powerful law in the universe. Just like gravity, it is always in effect, always in motion.” None of the proponents of this idea have ever offered a systematized break down of how the law actually functions, however. No one has explained how it works beyond vague statements like “you attract your reality.” Yet, to become a law, let alone a theory there needs to be evidence and a well thought out rationale behind it all. Instead, the public has been fed a variety of cliche statements, half-truths and faux scientific claims about the reality of this supposed universal law. 

Proponents in The Secret also invoke quantum physics to bolster their arguments that the Law of Attraction is scientific. They claim that thoughts vibrate on positive and negative frequencies and that quantum physics explains that everything is “energy” and therefore can be manipulated by our minds. New thought minister and Secret star Michael Beckwith claims, “It has been proven scientifically that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought.” Also in The Secret, Mike Dooley states, “It is no more difficult to attract on a scientific level something that we consider huge to something we consider infinitesimally small.” There is a difference however, because what happens on the quantum level is not equatable with what happens on a larger scale. And even if one could manipulate reality on the quantum level it doesn’t mean that the universe then becomes a giant ATM for the Law of Attraction devotee. Also, brainwaves are incredibly weak, which is why sensitive electrodes are needed to measure them.

If the Law of Attraction were really a scientific law that worked 100% of the time then literally every single moment of each day would somehow be choreographed by one’s thoughts. Everything that occurred, no matter how big or small, would happen entirely because of one’s thoughts. Spilling your coffee on the kitchen table. Your puppy peeing on your slippers. The sink getting clogged and splashing water on your work clothes. Winning a $5 lotto ticket. Getting a raise. Puncturing a tire on the way home. Just imagine the sort of complex super consciousness that would need to continually regulate all thoughts and then assign them experiences, pair people or groups together for events, in the real world accordingly.

Postmodern Salvation

“We must understand that the founder of a cult or new religion has no room for compromise: absolutes are necessary. True believers in mystical psychotherapy will not embrace a gospel with modest claims: it must be all or nothing.”– Martin Larson

While there are no claims of virgin births or bodily resurrections made by the new prophets of positive thinking they do preach many miraculous and magical ideas. And like other religions, the Law of Attraction promises salvation from the difficulties, anxieties and tensions of everyday life, which undeniably fuels its mass cultural appeal. Every era seems to have a book or an influential figure who is able to fill this role. 

Charismatic leaders viewed as Godlike speak with authority and conviction. In early videos Hicks can be seen shouting at her audience in a way that is reminiscent of fire and brimstone preachers.  It is this unwavering absolutism and belief in her system that has allowed her to convince the masses to drink from the positive thinking well.

The Law of Attraction is perhaps the most accurate form of postmodern religion one could imagine. It is individualistic (no community needed, one person’s thoughts run the world); narcissistic (the universe will supply me with anything I ask for); focused on immediate gratification (it’s central teaching is to “feel good now”); materialistic (strongly emphasizes achieving money and wealth); detached from structural reality (lacks an awareness of political/social/cultural systems) and is hypocritical (claims to be free from religious dogma when it is actually reproducing it). 

The Law of Attraction is also similar to dogmatic religion in that criticism or questioning of the system is not allowed. All critique is dismissed as “negative thinking” and practitioners often become very defensive when challenged. Author Barbara Ehrenreich describes this as the “cult of cheerfulness.” The Secret author, Rhonda Byrne warns, “If you are criticizing, you are not being grateful.” Diane Ahlquist in the Idiots Guide to the Law of Attraction states, “Challenging the source can come off as a lack of belief….If the law of attraction hasn’t worked for you yet, you are probably saying or thinking many things, none of them particularly positive….The best advice I can give you is to stop questioning the process because by doing so, you’re effectively telling the universe that you don’t trust it.” This is not unlike true Christian believers who have it ingrained within them that doubt, questioning or critique are profound threats to their salvation. With the Law of Attraction however, the leaders have ingeniously convinced practitioners that questioning will lead to them attracting terrible situations to themselves. Thus, practitioners won’t go to hell like Christians may believe if they abandon their belief, rather their lives will become hell. Coach Julia Stewart describes how the Law of Attraction shares a fundamental trait with cults.

“It is the insistence that you replace your current worldview with a completely new one in order to get what you want and that you must control your thoughts and eliminate any deviation from what is prescribed in order to succeed. That robs you of your inner knowing, common sense, intuition, confidence, etc. Then you become dependent upon the Law of Attraction “experts” to help you succeed. Usually they’re happy to sell you more books, programs, coaching, seminars, etc. that explain all over again what and how you should think. Folks do get rich with the Law of Attraction, but it’s usually the sellers, not the buyers.”

Spiritual Growth is NOT Easy

In this quick fix and immediate gratification culture, people want easy solutions to their pain and suffering. Abraham Hicks and her new age teachings provide this easy approach. They don’t actually work however. The Law of Attraction merely guides people to bypass, escape, deny and suppress those difficult aspects. While the practitioner may experience a brief reprieve from the immediate suffering they are experiencing it won’t last because the core issue was never dealt with. Merely staying positive and thinking happy thoughts won’t address one’s concerns.

Now, more than ever we need to challenge this narrative that spiritual growth is easy. Instead of running away from our pain, shadows and difficult emotions we need tools to embrace them and work with them. Real spiritual growth is tough. There are no quick fixes or easy outs. And we must use discernment to sort through what is a healthy and not healthy form of spirituality.

[This article is based on countless hours of research and writing. Please consider donating to support these efforts.]

A Critique of Byron Katie’s The Work

Is Byron Katie’s method known as The Work harmful? Some believe so. There are numerous instances of Katie on stage blaming sexual abuse victims, denying racism, stifling efforts for social change, denying the reality of abuse and accusing people of things they didn’t do. It’s all done under the guise of spiritual growth. Katie claims to haven’t had a thought in 26 years and says she could walk into a gas chamber knowing it’s an “amazing day.”

[This article is based on countless hours of research and writing. Please consider donating to support these efforts.]

Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency / FULL BIO / Contact:


As a psychotherapist who works with people who’ve had severe trauma, my opinion is that Byron Katie is dangerous.” – Karla Helbert

Author and teacher Byron Katie has been described as a “spiritual mentor to millions.” With her method of inquiry known as The Work she has traveled the world for the last thirty years speaking to sold-out audiences inspiring them to find freedom from their suffering. Her popularity has undoubtedly made her one of the most well-known figures in the self-help and new age spiritual scene. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says Katie’s work is “a great blessing for our planet.” Oprah Winfrey is also a fan. She interviewed Katie in 2010, strongly praising her teachings, later saying she had never met anyone like her. Katie’s books Loving What Is, A Thousand Names for Joy and Question Your Thinking, Change the World have sold hundreds of thousands of copies internationally.

Katie wasn’t always a highly confident, well-spoken spiritual luminary, however. She claims The Work was born out of her own journey through the dark night of the soul.

According to Katie’s official story, she suffered from years of deep depression, severe anxiety, and compulsive overeating. She drank excessively, took codeine pills and obsessively ate until she was over 200 pounds. Suicidal, she prayed each night to not wake up the next morning. At the age of forty-three, she checked herself into a half-way house for women with eating disorders and while there she slept in the attic because the other residents were so frightened of her. They even booby-trapped the door because they feared she may “do something terrible to them.” Katie slept on the floor of the attic because she didn’t feel worthy of sleeping in a bed.

After only a few weeks of being in the half-way house, Katie says she had an awakening experience that gave birth to The Work. One morning while sleeping, a cockroach crawled over her foot and “woke” her up. “I understood that when I was asleep, prior to cockroach or foot, prior to any thoughts, prior to any world, there was — there is — nothing. In that instant, the four questions of The Work were born.” She claims she then saw the world through perfectly neutral eyes. “There was just awareness, no story.” This pure consciousness “had never seen anything before” and “it had never been born before” she says. All her depression, fear and tormenting thoughts were gone. She then became “intoxicated with joy” and it has never ceased to this day Katie claims.

Katie says she spent the next year sitting in meditation and practicing deep inquiry about any thoughts that arose. Any thought that took her away from her newfound state of peace and joy was “subjected to rigorous inquiry” until it was resolved.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I did´t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment.”

She says it was from this real-life field testing that she created her four-question method and began offering it to others in 1992.

Katie claims that since her awakening she has lived in a dream-like state where everything is beautiful and wonderful. In a 2012 interview with Haaretz she claimed to “have never had a thought in 26 years,” since her awakening in 1986. Katie told him she lives in a “state of total peace of mind…a kind of nirvana.” She also said she doesn’t get upset or mad anymore. When the interviewer asked her how that was possible she explained:

“Look, so far I haven’t experienced anything like that. But I’m open to such an experience. It’s very liberating to live in the world where I live. A world where there’s no right and wrong, just or unjust. Everything is right. Everything is in place. There’s no possibility of making a mistake.”


The four questions of The Work taken from Byron Katie’s website are as follows:

Step 1:Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
Step 2:Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
Step 3:How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Step 4: Who would you be without the thought?

Katie guides students on stage and in her books through this process of inquiry to help them see how their thoughts are causing them suffering. No experience or trauma is too difficult for her method. The Work is true for every human being and can be used on all problems humans face she claims. According to her website, The Work “is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the fear, violence, depression, frustration and suffering in the world.”

How does Katie’s method actually work? It is quite simple, although to an untrained eye it can seem like she is offering something psychologically sophisticated or spiritually profound.

The Work is similar to a method known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in that it focuses on correcting our mental patterns. CBT, however, focuses on correcting actual cognitive distortions like “everyone thinks I’m ugly” whereas The Work tries to “correct” valid thoughts about real-world situations that Katie believes to be “negative” or judgmental. She wants people to stop believing the perfectly normal and healthy thoughts that arise in response to injustice, abuse or trauma. She thinks being upset or angry at your abuser is causing your suffering, not the abuse itself. This is where The Work gets dangerous. When used like this it can blame those in pain for their own suffering and often requires people cut off important parts of their inner lives and spiritually bypass difficult emotions.

In Katie’s view, nothing in the world no matter how awful it is can cause us to suffer. Only our minds are real and thus only we can cause ourselves to suffer. “Harm is nothing more than believing your thoughts” she states. This is an extreme form of philosophical idealism, the notion that only minds exist. She’s essentially taken the new age cliche “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” and monetized it with her four-question system. As this passage from her book A Thousand Names for Joy illustrates, Katie literally believes the worst thing that could ever happen to someone is a belief.

“Nothing terrible has ever happened except in our thinking. Reality is always good, even in situations that seem like nightmares. The story we tell is the only nightmare that we have lived. When I say that the worst that can happen is a belief, I am being literal. The worst that can happen to you is your uninvestigated belief system.”

In 2016, Katie posted a tweet that read: “All harm in 2015 was nothing more or less than how you react when you believe your judgments.”

Katie’s extreme view of thoughts equal reality is further illustrated in this quote referencing the holocaust, “When I’m walking to the gas chamber, other than what I’m thinking and believing, what an amazing day!” Katie believes “everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking” and thus terrible situations such as walking into a gas chamber become merely mental illusions that can be easily corrected by denying the awful reality of what is occurring.

“When I’m walking to the gas chamber, other than what I’m thinking and believing, what an amazing day!”

Remarkably, in her book Losing the Moon Katie even states that she could throw her baby into the fires of the concentration camps without resisting.

“If Someone (God, ‘what is’), pulls my baby from me – if that’s what it takes, I’m there. Take the baby. Tear my baby from me. Throw it in the fire….My discomfort is my war with God.

You see, there are NO choices. What is, is.

But when we get to the baby thing, we’re getting down to our sacred little concepts now….You take my baby from me, you’re messing with the illusion of I’m the mommy, this is the baby, there’s the daddy…

But tearing the baby away- that’s the higher. That’s the higher, because it snatches your story from you and makes it apparent in your face – nothing’s real short of reality….

That’s it. That’s what is. That’s love. That’s absolutely un-describable love. That you, God, would even give me that.

Can you know that Hitler didn’t bring more people to realization than Jesus? On your knees – God. God! God! But our stories of reality keep us from the awareness of God is Everything. And God is Good. […]

There has never been evil and there never will be. Evil is simply a story about what’s not…”

In her interview with Haaretz she was asked about the world’s problems. “According to you, all the problems that we’re dealing with are nonexistent?” Katie responded “true.” In the same interview, Katie states that the cause of people’s suffering from things like rape, abuse or murder is strictly their belief in their thoughts.

Interviewer: People come to you with very bleak stories of abuse, rape, bereavement, even murder. Do those stories shake you up? Do you feel sorry for them?

Katie: No. Never. I know that they’re perfectly all right. They only believe their thoughts. You can examine your life for a moment. If you set aside the things that you think and believe in, isn’t your life good? Aren’t you all right?

Obviously, the students seeking her out for support are not “perfectly all right.” Merely telling students to no longer believe the thoughts that stem from trauma and abuse doesn’t address the reason they are experiencing those thoughts. Any momentary relief a student will receive from temporarily switching off their thoughts will be short-lived. If the core wound is not dealt with the person will not find freedom from the painful or traumatic experience. They will find that those thoughts revisit them regularly.

Healing occurs when someone is met where they are with empathy, care, and connection. By claiming a student is not really suffering and dismissing their pain as a “story” or “belief in their thoughts” Katie is trivializing their experience. She regularly does this live, on stage with abuse victims and trauma survivors. Katie is missing an opportunity to deeply listen and instead invalidates their reality.

The Work echoes something we see more broadly in new age spiritual culture; the idea that all healing can occur on the level of thought alone. Of course, psychotherapy works on the level of thought and it can be highly effective, but it is a longer process and based on certain parameters like a caring therapeutic relationship, not just the manipulation of thoughts. What these new age teachers mean is that healing can occur by using quick fix mental techniques. A Course In Miracles, for example, describes a miracle merely as a shift in perception from fear to love. But those who understand the process of healing know that shifting a perception, denying a thought or suppressing an emotion won’t address the real underlying problem.

In the context of Katie’s awakening story, one can understand the method behind The Work. Remember, she says the inspiration for her technique comes from her realizing that she had no thoughts while sleeping. She then realized that she no longer needed to believe her thoughts and from this unending joy and peace were felt. Given her explanation, it’s understandable then why her method involves literally shutting down the mind to turn off any “negative” or judgmental thoughts. When she was sleeping the morning of her supposed awakening those thoughts didn’t exist. Her method is an attempt to return to that undisturbed place.

What Katie has done is essentially monetized her trauma, as Matthew Remski, author of Practice and All is Coming describes it. The suppressing of her pain and thoughts became an unsubstantiated pop-psychology healing method used by millions. Mixed with her new age spiritual influences she crafted The Work which quickly became an authoritative self-help process and text.


There are numerous instances of Katie on stage blaming sexual abuse victims, denying racism, stifling efforts for social change, denying the reality of verbal abuse and accusing people of things they didn’t do. She probably believes she is helping but the consequences of her applying The Work unconditionally to every situation can make things worse for some of her students, potentially leaving them confused and further traumatized.

In this exchange from her book Loving What Is, Katie, convinces a woman who is upset about terrorism that the real problem is in her mind. If she wants true freedom she must get rid of her judgmental and “negative” thoughts about terrorists.

Emily: They’re evil, ignorant, and yes, they’re successful and powerful.

Katie: And I…

Emily: I am evil, ignorant, successful, and powerful?

Katie: Yes. In all your righteousness.

Emily: My thoughts are like locusts.

Katie: Exactly. I don’t see any terrorists in this moment except the one you live with: yourself.

Emily: Yes. I see that.

Katie: I live in peace, and that’s what everyone deserves. We all deserve to end our own terrorism.

Emily: I can understand the arrogance of doing what I’ve been doing.

This is called the “turnaround” technique where Katie convinces the student that the real problem is in their head not in the world. Emily went from someone with legitimate feelings about terrorism to someone believing that she was the actual terrorist , a mental terrorist to be precise. It goes without saying that it’s quite normal to be angry and upset with people who intentionally kill innocent civilians. Yet, Katie’s method left Emily believing her thoughts are “like locusts.” Until Emily can remove any “negative” or judgmental thoughts about terrorists she cannot be free according to Katie.

In this exchange taken from a video, a woman speaks of her concerns about the meat industry and factory farming. Katie downplays her valid and legitimate perspective by convincing her the problem is only in her mind.

Katie: So, the meat industry is the largest, most accepted form of violence in the world today? How would you turn that around?…Fantasy is.

Student: So you’re suggesting to replacing the meat industry with fantasy?

Katie: Yes, or “my thinking.”

Student: Oh, definitely. My thinking is the largest most accepted form of violence.

Katie: Of violence in in your world today and it just wipes people out. It can wipe out your happy life.

Katie believes this woman is upset only because of her thoughts about the meat industry. Factory farming itself could never cause someone to be upset. It is only a choice we make in our own minds and being upset equates to suffering in Katie’s view.

In this exchange, also from Loving What Is, a passionate believer in social change expresses hurt and frustration about corporations polluting the planet, only to have Katie tell her that her feelings are violent.

Margaret: It hurts. I can’t stand what they’re doing to our planet.

Katie: Doesn’t all that anger feel violent inside.

Margaret: Yes.

Katie: Anger is violent. Feel it.

Margaret: But it motivates me to act, so it’s good to have some stress. We need it to get things moving.

Katie: So what I hear from you is that violence works, violence is the way to a peaceful solution. That doesn’t make sense to me.

Margaret knows that the anger she feels about pollution is a motivating factor to take action but Katie twists this around in her mind. The result may leave the woman confused about her activism. Furthermore, Katie’s method cuts off an essential part of Margaret’s human experience.

There are numerous examples of Katie victim blaming sexual and verbal abuse survivors in her books and in videos.

In this exchange from her book Loving What Is, Katie convinces a woman who was sexually abused by her stepfather that she abused him.

Katie: He abused me — turn it around. I…

Diane: I abused me?

Katie: Yes. Can you see that?

Katie: There’s another turnaround. I…

Diane: I…

Katie: …abused…

Diane:…abused…[There is a long pause.] I abused…him? That’s a hard one.

Katie: Tell me about that.

Diane: I abused him.

Katie: Yes, sweetheart. Tell me about it.

According to Katie, this woman is abusing both herself and her step-father merely by thinking critical thoughts about her abuser. Katie is requiring abuse victims to state live on stage in front of hundreds of people that they abused their abusers.

In this exchange, also from Katie’s book Loving What Is, Marty explores the pain of verbal abuse they experienced from their uncle. The same turnaround technique is used by Katie to deny the reality of this persons experience and blame them for the abuse.

Marty: I’m still feeling the pain of his verbal abuse.

Katie: Okay, verbal abuse — turn it around. “I’m feeling the pain…”

Marty: I still am feeling the pain of my verbal abuse.

Katie: Toward him in your mind.

Marty: I’m still feeling the pain of my verbal abuse toward him in my mind?

Katie: If your uncle says something that hurts, he’s just revealed what you haven’t wanted to look at yet. The man is a Buddha.

Marty: You mean that everything I’m defending against is the truth that I don’t want to see? Holy shit! No wonder I’ve been seeing my uncle as an enemy! This is amazing!

Katie: Uncles have never been the problem, and they never will be. It’s your uninvestigated thinking about your uncle that’s the problem. And as you inquire, you set yourself free. Your uncle is really God in disguise as an uncle. He’s giving you everything you need for your freedom.

Marty falsely believes they’ve experienced a breakthrough or profound insight based on this inquiry. What’s really happening is that an abuse victim is blaming themselves for “abusing” their abuser. On top of this awkward exchange, they are being misled to think it is “spiritual” to tolerate abuse. Katie tells them that their abusive uncle is a Buddha and “God in disguise.” Marty is then told that the cause of their suffering is the resistance to the abuse. Katie likes to say “war begins at defense.” Their uncle’s abuse is actually helping them discover things they didn’t want to look at according to Katie. Denying someone’s reality like this and making them question their own reality is undoubtedly a form of gaslighting.

In a video, a man is on stage discussing his girlfriend’s verbal abuse towards him. When Katie asks him if he can think of any instances where he is verbally abusive to her he says “nothing comes to mind.” Katie then focuses in on that “terrorist” in his mind and asks about the thoughts he’s been thinking about his girlfriend’s verbal abuse towards him. And voila, she’s found the real culprit. He tells Katie “My thinking would be insulting to her definitely. I’d be looking at her thinking you’re crazy, this is insane, damaged, very unevolved behavior. I would definitely be having insulting thoughts.” Katie responds “there it is!” Having critical thoughts about someone who is abusing you is normal. It protects us from harm and is a sign that things are working properly.

It’s important to understand when reading these passages that Katie outright denies the reality of verbal abuse. “There’s no such thing as verbal abuse. There’s only someone telling me a truth that I don’t want to hear. If I were really able to hear my accuser, I would find my freedom.” In one video she says “aggressives come for us, not to hurt us, to open us.” This quote from Katie further illustrates her belief about the benefit of an abusive partner.

“There’s never a mistake in the universe. So if your partner is angry, good. If there are things about him that you consider flaws, good, because these flaws are your own, you’re projecting them, and you can write them down, inquire, and set yourself free. People go to India to find a guru, but you don’t have to: you’re living with one. Your partner will give you everything you need for your own freedom.”

It’s worth pointing out that, by her own admission, Katie’s husband was so verbally abusive to her that people would leave the house in fear of him. She says he was her Buddha, teaching her profound spiritual lessons that she truly needed to grow.

It goes without saying that verbal abuse is serious and can cause severe trauma. Anyone who has ever been screamed at knows intimately the lasting impact it can have in your body and psyche. The effect of long-term partner abuse is even more serious.

In a video, an audience member tells Katie she is upset with someone named Bob because he lied to her, stole from her and betrayed her. Katie has the woman turn around her statement and say “Bob should lie.” Later in the exchange, the woman tells Katie that Bob groped her inappropriately at her husband’s funeral. Katie asks her what her thoughts were about the incident and she replied, “I just thought that he was a disturbed person on a power trip.” Katie immediately says “turn it around” to which the woman responds “I’m a very confused person on a power trip and I’m self-absorbed.” She continues, “yeah, I guess so. I was deciding what behavior was right for him and what wasn’t. I was very self-absorbed. I wasn’t thinking about what he was thinking, I was thinking about me and what I felt.” Once again Katie convinces someone who was harmed that she is the problem, not the perpetrator.

In this exchange taken from a video, Katie tells a woman she is the one having an affair, not her husband who cheated on her.

Woman: Bill had an affair.

Katie: Turn it around.

Woman: I had an affair?

Katie: Have you ever imagined him with her?

Woman: Of course.

Katie: So you’re having an affair and you’re using him and her to do it. You’re having an affair in your head.

Woman: Because I’m picturing their affair in my head?

Katie: Can you find another turn around?

Woman: He didn’t have an affair?

Katie: Give him some credit, there were some times when he didn’t.

Katie proceeds to stifle this woman’s desire for her husband to accept responsibility for cheating on her by questioning her at length until she abandons her efforts. She also asks her where she has been “sneaky” and dishonest with her husband and her children which confuses the woman.

In a video on her channel titled “No One Can Hurt Me, That’s My Job” she tells an audience member that if someone threatens to kill him with a loaded gun that he is responsible for any suffering that stems from the situation. 

“If someone pulls a rifle and says ‘I’m going to kill you’ where’s the problem?” He says he’s going to kill me, the gun is in his hand loaded, his finger is on the trigger. Where is the problem? Here [pointing to her head]. I imagine whether I’m aware of it or not, he’s going to pull the trigger, bloods gonna fly and I’m going to die or I’m going to be maimed and fall and be in agony and my family’s going to suffer and I’ll never see my children again and it’s not fair and it’s all because of the color of my skin or my national or my culture or whatever it is, and he hasn’t even pulled the trigger yet. So who would I be without all of that? Who would I be if I were not projecting a future into imagining what’s going to happen. Who would I be without out it. Look into his eyes, the sun is shining, I’m looking around, it’s just, in reality an amazing world, a gift. So, who caused my fear and pain, was it him that said I’m gonna kill you or was it me? Who’s causing my agony now in that situation? How many of you get it’s me. 100% totally there’s no exception to it.”

Katie blames any pain or suffering entirely on the victim being held at gunpoint. Yet, it is totally normal for someone to panic in a life and death situation like that and they should not be blamed for the responding experience.

Katie flat-out denies reality in one video by telling a woman who has cancer that she doesn’t.

Katie: I have cancer. Turn it around.

Woman: I don’t have cancer.

Katie: yeah.

Woman: I don’t have cancer. It’s just that simple.

Katie: That’s it.

Woman: It is just that simple.

Katie: Exactly so.

In this exchange from a video, Katie tells a young boy he should celebrate when someone he knows dies.

Boy: What would you do if someone just died that you know?

Katie: Celebrate. What would you do?

Boy: Probably be sad.

Katie: Oh, why?

Boy: Because I love them and they’re gone.

Katie: Well, if you love her why wouldn’t you celebrate?

Boy: I don’t know.

Katie: Have you ever hurt yourself? Ok. Well, that person you love, there never gonna be hurt again.

Boy: Ok.

In a dialogue with a World War II survivor in Loving What Is Katie convinces him to say that he looks forward to “the bombs falling again.”

Willem: I don’t ever want to experience again the bombs falling on my head, or being a hostage, or feeling hunger.

Katie: If only in your thinking. The bombs aren’t coming from out there; they can only come from inside you. So “I look forward to…”

Willem: It’s hard to say this.

Katie: I look forward to the worst that can happen, only because it shows me what I haven’t yet met with understanding. I know the power of truth.

Willem: I look forward to the bombs falling again and feeling hunger. Hunger is not so bad. [Pause] I don’t feel it yet. Maybe I will later.

In a video, a black woman in the audience at one of Katie’s events recalled a conversation she had with a white man who told her to just forget her ancestral history. Her gut feeling was to say “fuck you” to that idea because “the history is still happening today.” She was trying to understand the collective history, her personal story and the reality of racism in her world and asked Katie for her insights. Katie’s response was to essentially derail the reality of racist harm by saying it’s happened to everyone equally and to claim she is not a color.

“Things that happened to you have happened to every color. You are not a color. You are beyond that…When you really love your people. When you stop fearing for them is when you stop fearing for yourself and then everyone is your people.”

In an exchange with Katie, a woman expresses her desire for there to be less racism in the world. She references the murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was murdered by three white men in 1998. “I was thinking about the guy in Jasper Texas. These guys dragged him behind the truck.” Rather than saying how awful that incident was and acknowledging that racism is a blight on our society, Katie responds by awkwardly asking her to turn the question inward. Katie says, “How did I drag my three children behind the truck their whole life? Let it begin with me. I begin there and then I’ll go talk to those guys.” The woman presses on with her desire for a more just and sustainable world. “I need for the establishment to give up the need to separate by race, to accept that people of color can be smart, successful, brilliant.” Katie responds by asking her “Can you see a reason to drop the story first?” The woman is confused and doesn’t want to abandon what she knows is right. “I don’t know. I’m having problems with that. I’m having this wedge of resistance.” Katie responds by saying, “You want to control our thinking.” The woman is then convinced that it is unloving to want people to not be prejudiced.

Katie: I want people to stop being prejudiced. Turn it around.

Woman: I want me to stop being prejudiced.

Katie: That will work.

Woman: I just didn’t realize how unloving that was to not let people have their prejudices.

[This article is based on countless hours of research and writing. Please consider donating to support these efforts.]


What about all of the people who report profound breakthroughs and healing from doing The Work? The first response to this is that the same reports are found in every spiritual or religious group, no matter how outlandish they are. This is referred to as “I got mine,” as formulated by author Matthew Remski and it’s one of the most commonly used defenses to shut down criticism. Scientologists, followers of cult leader Jim Jones and devout Christians report to have significant transformations and breakthroughs. Do we conclude from this alone that being a saved Christian is a useful method to heal trauma or abuse? Do we assume that what Jim Jones offered was a responsible and wise approach to treating depression or personal problems? Karla Helbert is a psychotherapist familiar with Katie’s method and believes it is harmful. She shared her views online about the efficacy of The Work to warn students who may be misled.

“As a psychotherapist- who works with people who’ve had severe trauma, my opinion is that Byron Katie is dangerous. She has no training in supporting people who have been traumatized. She blames and shames them and calls it The Work. In her book Loving What Is, she has a woman agree that as a child she was responsible for her sexual abuse and invited it. It’s appalling and psychologically and spiritually dangerous. I can’t believe no one has sued her. Her method of questioning our own thoughts, challenging our own beliefs is sound and a good practice- ultimately the basis of Jnana yoga- but when it comes to the flip, turning the statements toward yourself and the way this can easily turn to blaming a victim/survivor is horrid.”

In the very least, a conversation about the scope of what situations The Work can be applied to would be beneficial.

Secondly, The Work is similar to a cognitive-behavioral technique, so it could offer people relief when applied to actual cognitive distortions like “everyone thinks I’m ugly.” As Helbert mentioned, there can be a place for examining and reframing certain types of thoughts. And even victims of abuse may experience relief after doing The Work. The problem is that it is often only a temporary shift that undoubtedly returns once the student no longer suppresses or denies the difficult emotions and thoughts. Regardless, Katie has no training in CBT or psychotherapy either, so the efficacy of her work, even when applied to cognitive distortions, is questionable.

Lastly, you have to consider the context that The Work is being used in. All of these exchanges with Katie occur on stage, in an environment and context that carries with it a certain power. Students often uncritically accept her method as legitimate because she has authored books and can command a stage. Nervous and traumatized people sit in awe of a self-proclaimed awakened spiritual teacher who is seemingly showing them love. The act of sharing your story with someone alone can be cathartic and shouldn’t be discounted as a contributing factor when a shift occurs. Matthew Remsksi describes the power dynamics at play in his insightful article “Byron Katie’s Domination Technique: a Case Study.”

“Consider the performance pressure on the subject, on a dais in a room filled with a hundred people or more, with whom she must socialize on breaks, to whom she might be looking for relief from social isolation, who might constitute for her the idealized friend group for which she’s longed for years. Imagine the stakes involved in her talking back, refusing the advice, reasserting her original thought, wrestling back her agency from Katie.

Note signs of Katie’s somatic control: talking to the subject but really to the crowd, nodding as though she’s heard it all before and nothing could possibly surprise her (grandiosity), the implicit agreement that she can interrupt anyone at any time (because she’s not there to listen but to tell).”

Remski refers to this stage performance as “somatic theatre.” In no way is this performance dynamic unique to Katie’s method, it can be found widely in spiritual culture.


In addition to offering workshops and events, Katie offers a 9-day experience called The School where participants question “the fear-based stories” they’ve “innocently clung to” for so long. Some schools have had as many as 300 students. With a tuition of $3,500 per person, Katie is making hundreds of thousands of dollars per event. Katie also sells a 28-day program called “The Turnaround House” which costs $20,000 per person.

The School may have evolved since its inception but previous participants have complained that Katie creates a cult-like atmosphere. They’ve reported it consisted of: a 36-hour long fast, intense group confessional sessions where people were required to list the worst things they’ve ever done, participation in long days (7:00 am-11:00 pm), being subjected to Korn’s heavy metal music to probe out deep traumas, being encouraged to criticize Katie and The School only to be shunned when doing so, being required to go two days as a “silent one” where no talking was permitted and not being allowed to exercise or have contact with family. When some people vomited from the food provided it was seen as cleansing and evidence of how powerful The Work is. Also, any questions, criticisms or concerns about The School were required to be endlessly subjected to the turnaround technique until they lost their inner critic. Apparently, none of this is explained to participants beforehand either. Current descriptions of The School do not say what occurs during the nine days.

One participant describes what they witnessed when people were forced into deep confessions in the “shame” unit of the week.

“In the Shame unit, we were instructed to write down the thing we’d done in our lives that we were most ashamed of, then take the mike and tell the whole group, then do The Work on it with a partner.

People stood up and, sobbing or preening, revealed everything from bestiality and zoophilia to embarrassing physical features, infidelity to poor parenting that bordered on abuse. Many people told of having been abused and shamed by that. The reward for producing a novel or particularly painful shame experience was Katie’s cooing, warm approval and attention. This was such a powerful exercise that, for the next few days, Katie would interrupt whatever exercise was in process to say that so-and-so desired to tell about their shame.”

A former senior staff member of many years named Janaki broke away from Katie after realizing how dysfunctional she was. She went on to write a 72-page document detailing her time working with Katie. She warns of The Work becoming like a religion and of Katie adopting a messiah-like complex.

“It seems to me that The Work has become a religion that is now taking on global forms, especially when I see how it is being marketed through Katie’s various websites and her weblog. The four questions have become the holy bible…

Many years ago, I sat with Katie in her room one morning. She was talking about the future of The Work and she said, ‘I have seen it Janaki, it is going to be like the Sermon on the Mount’. I felt so in awe of her at the time. Here I was sitting with someone equal to Jesus Christ, having tea on the balcony.”

Janaki says that other staff members and core followers believe that Katie exists in a state of flawless perfection as well.

Stephen Mitchell is Katie’s current husband and helped her write Loving What Is. He told Janaki that he was proficient at understanding the significance of people’s eyes and whether or not they were spiritual masters. From their eyes alone he could tell if they knew “The Great Secret.” When looking into Katie’s eyes he saw something truly unique: “But Katie’s eyes were even more glittering, I felt, even more ancient, and so beautiful that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with joy. The joy shining from them was something I had never seen before.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mitchell said in regards to Katie’s awakening, “I don’t know of an instance of this happening to another human being. It’s like if you took psychosis or amnesia as a negative and printed it as a positive photograph.”

Taken as a whole, Katie’s project begins to fit the description of a cult: A spiritually awakened charismatic figure who claims to have no thoughts and that exists in a pure state of awareness, the use of behavior modification, thought reform, shaming techniques, confessionals, the stifling of criticism, and the manipulation of the environment to break down individuals. The result is a new person who has shed their previous identity and has merged with Byron Katie and her system. Katie promises that “once the four questions are alive inside” of participants their minds “become clear.” Ironically enough, “clear” is the same term Scientology uses to describe when someone has achieved mastery in their program.


Did The Work really come spontaneously from Katie’s awakening experience in 1986? Former staff member Janaki points to different sources: the work of Ken Keyes, Ramana Maharshi, A Course In Miracles and other spiritual new age books. She claims to have spoken with someone who lived near Katie in her early days who told her that Katie’s basement was filled with boxes of spiritual books that allegedly “had underlined sentences in them and contained notes in Katie’s handwriting.” This disputes the assertion of her husband Stephen Mitchell, who has stated, “Anyone who knows Katie knows that she doesn’t read books.”

Janaki was told that Katie had all of Ken Keye’s books. This is significant because she makes a compelling case that Katie plagiarised Keye’s’ teachings when creating The Work. After purchasing Keyes books she realized how strikingly similar they were to Katie’s method.

“I became more curious and ordered some of his books. I was amazed. He called his process The Inner Work. He worked with worksheets that consist of 6 uncompleted sentences. I found a list of all the questions that are on the worksheet from The Work: I want, I need, he should, what I never want to happen again. I also found some of the questions, especially the 3rd question was literal, including the answers that are given to that question. I found the turnarounds, exactly the way they are done in The Work. And there was a lot more.”

Towards the end of her 74-page document called “Byron Katie and Janaki,” she illustrates the similarities in detail by using images taken from Ken Keye’s work. In total there are over forty pictures from his books that show strong evidence for the true origins of The Work. The image below clearly shows the origins of Katie’s turnaround technique. Keyes calls it the “Insight Leap” but the method is identical.

Image from Ken Keye’s book A Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships. The Work utilizes an identical process which Katie calls the turnaround technique. 


Byron Katie’s dictate to “love what is” has taken an idea that at best is a quasi-universal aspiration and awkwardly contorted into a pseudo-method for healing. For Katie, what is is. If it has happened or is happening, no point in judging it. People who lie, cheat and steal should lie, cheat and steal simply because they are doing it. This is God’s plan according to Katie. The world is a beautiful and perfect place, where nothing terrible has ever happened. Suffering only arises when we think reality should be any different than it is or was. It is our “negative” or critical thoughts about what has happened that take us away from inner peace, not the actual abuse or injustice we’ve been subjected to.

As a result of this erroneous conflation of the absolute with the relative realm, Katie has led millions of people to believe disassociating from their thoughts and feelings is a valid form of spiritual growth. If only healing were as simple as a shift in perception, or the reversal of difficult thoughts.

The Work is ultimately a double betrayal. On one level wounded participants are being deceived because they’re sold a system that most likely won’t help them. On another level, they are gaslighted to such an extent that they are coerced to say on stage in front of hundreds that their abusers never abused them, that they abused themselves and that they abused their abusers. When Katie tells students their abusers were “God in disguise” or the Buddha she has weaponized spirituality in the disservice of fragile trauma survivors.

Following Katie’s logic ultimately leads to a predicament: we can no longer try to change the world because challenging reality causes suffering. Remember, the problem in Katie’s view wasn’t the corporation polluting the world or the factory farm inhumanely processing animals. The real problem was the anger and frustration in the mind of the student discussing their concerns with Katie. She told Haaretz news that all of the problems in the world are non-existent. Katie will push back and say her intent is not to prevent people from creating change. Yet, in example after example of her doing The Work and in her statements she is doing just that.

We’ll never know the full extent of damage that Katie’s methods have caused, regardless of her claim that “it’s not possible for” her “to hurt another person.” One can only imagine the lasting confusion in the young boy who was told by an authority figure whom his parents admire that he should celebrate when a loved one dies. Or the harm caused to the World War II vet who said on stage that he looks “forward to the bombs falling again.” Or the re-victimization of the woman sexually abused by her step-father who proclaimed to an audience of several hundred that she abused him. Or the pain of someone having to list off positive qualities of their abuser. Or the stifling effect it had on the student who was passionate about reforming the factory farm industry.

It is not spiritually wise to blindly follow a dictate like “love what is” and apply it equally to all situations. We need to use discretion and critical thinking to navigate a complex and treacherous world. This is a fact that marginalized people understand much better than Katie ever will. As a wealthy, straight white woman it is much easier for her to live in a fantasy world where everything is always wonderful. And isn’t Katie merely promoting the same false story that underlies neoliberal capitalism? That everything is ok no matter how terrible things actually are? That we can grow and pollute exponentially without harm? That individuals alone are responsible for their own well-being or suffering?

In conclusion, like so many other well-meaning spiritual systems, The Work tragically leads participants away from themselves under the guise of leading them towards themselves. This is a form of toxic spirituality that we must challenge and think critically about as spiritual practitioners, journalists or concerned citizens.

[This article is based on countless hours of research and writing. Please consider donating to support these efforts.]

Cult Reporter Be Scofield Defeats Frivolous SLAPP Lawsuit filed by Minc Law and Aaravindha Himadra



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Janis Briedis also known as Aaravindha Himadra and his lawyer Nadeen Hayden of Minc Law in Clevland Ohio were handed a defeat today when they were compelled to dismiss their defamation lawsuit against prominent cult reporter Be Scofield.

In February, Aaravindha hired Nadeen Hayden of Minc Law to bring a $250,000 lawsuit against Scofield for her investigation into Aaravindha’s Orcas Island cult and the suspicious death of his student. Two attorneys, Tim Cunningham and Ambika Doran from Davis Wright Tremaine represented Scofield pro bono. Once the lawsuit was filed it garnered local media attention with both the San Juan Islander covering it and the Islander Sounder as well.

No specific defamatory statements were ever listed in Minc Law’s lawsuit, however, a classic sign that it was a frivolous lawsuit also known as a SLAPP. Rather, they argued that the article in its entirety was defamatory. These types of lawsuits are designed to harass and intimidate journalists, often causing stress and financial strain.

After several months of motions and legal moves, Aaravindha and his attorneys were forced by Washington state law to list the specific statements which were defamatory in the article. It was at that crucial juncture that they chose to withdraw the lawsuit, proving that they had no actual grounds to file in the first place.

Aaravindha and Minc Law was previously dealt a loss in the case when Aaravidha was ordered by the court to pay Scofield’s legal team $2,500 for failing to abide by proper legal procedures. Cunningham and Doran sought to move the lawsuit from state court to federal court. In order to do so two criteria had to be met: Scofield had to not live in the state of Washington and the lawsuit must be for more than $75,000. While the initial letter to Scofield stated $250,000 Aaravindha’s legal team wouldn’t officially declare the amount they were seeking, a move Scofield’s lawyers argued was designed to frustrate their efforts moving to federal court. The judge agreed and ruled Minc Law’s effort was in “bad faith,” penalizing Aaravindha $2,500. The case was successfully moved to federal court.

Nadeen Hayden also filed a bogus claim that because Aaravindha had brief email contact with an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine that there was a conflict in other attorneys from that firm representing Scofield. There is no relationship established however from simply replying to an email, otherwise, this would be a very easy tactic to get lawyers dismissed from cases. Hayden’s attempt was a disingenuous effort to remove legal support from Scofield’s case.

Aaron Minc (founder of Minc Law) and Nadeen Hayden

This victory for free speech will hopefully deter future SLAPP lawsuits against journalists and help make reporters aware that there are legal firms willing to represent them at no cost.

View original lawsuit here:

The court filing indicating that the case against Scofield has been dismissed.

Becoming God: Inside Mooji’s Portugal Cult

  • Former members accuse spiritual teacher Mooji of running an abusive cult at his isolated ashram three hours from Lisbon, Portugal.
  • They allege sleeping with students, abuse such as screaming, shouting, shaming and humiliating, controlling behavior, pairing and breaking up couples, brainwashing and mind control, coercing people from leaving and more.
  • Mooji lives in a secluded hilltop gated area of the property with three young female disciples whom insiders say he is sleeping with. They also dress and undress him daily.
  • Mooji has cheated on his past three girlfriends with other students. One longterm female resident of the ashram who left claims to have had sex with Mooji the entire time she was there. There are other women too afraid to speak out.
  • Followers believe Mooji to be God and refer to him as “my Lord,” “my Master” and “my Father.” They regularly kiss his “holy” feet and bow to him.
  • Strange ceremonies and rituals including exorcism type events occur at the center.
  • Mooji has designated an isolation building for members who act out. They will be given one meal a day and learn to “know the self.”
  • Mooji and his team smuggled over 200,000 of unreported cash into Portugal from London and one member got caught. They used this to purchase Monte Sahaja. 
  • Two members committed suicide in 2017, one at the ashram in Portugal and another in India.

[Be Scofield is one of the most prominent journalists in the world exposing cults and abusive gurus. In 2018 alone, her articles received almost 1 million views. Stories based on her work have appeared on The Guardian, The Daily Mail, VICE, Playboy, CNN, CBC, New Zealand Herald, Die Zeit and more.]

Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency / FULL BIO / Author contact:

[Several people were interviewed for this article including former senior Mooji staff, students and volunteers.]


The Next Wild, Wild Country

“We are living with a living Jesus Christ. He is God living.” That’s how a Mooji disciple named Lakshmi described her experience living with her guru at his ashram during an interview. She continued, “The whole vibration here is vibrating with Mooji…it is pure divinity.” Another devotee, Bill Free, was conducting the interview in a series with “Mooji disciples” — the most dedicated and loyal inner circle. He replied, “This guy is just like Jesus. The truth comes out of him in every sentence.” A longtime disciple named Shree says “Mooji is not a man, he is a master.” Another devotee goes as far as to say “Mooji is certainly the evidence in this world that God exists.” One follower refers to Mooji’s “divine presence” and says that he is “so humble, so pure and so profound, he has transcended the limitations of thought forms.” 

On stage at his Monte Sahaja ashram in rural Portugal, Mooji directs his devotees to bow and kiss his feet. They gush with love and devotion in tears. A young woman says to him in an accent, “I don’t kiss your feet, I kiss feet of God of universe.” Another woman tells Mooji, “I had an experience recently, where you, as the lion that you are, took my heart in your teeth and you shook me and the peace and the miraculous revelations that came from that are incredible. It is only because of your generosity to be the lion that we can be the sheep.” A guy who calls Mooji “beloved Godfather” tells him “It is by your grace alone Lord that thy will be done.” Another, “You give everything. You give us life. You bring us home.” A young devotee reads a poetic letter she wrote to him, “If I have to cry let my tears be holy waters to wash your feet. If I have to die, let me die at your feet today…If I have to fall let me fall in love with you my Lord.”

“It’s definitely a cult,” says a former longtime senior staff member who spent many years in Mooji’s group. Former members who are speaking out agree. They claim Mooji has appropriated and distorted the guru tradition and has used it to justify a cult of devotion and worship around himself while abusing many in the process. 

“If I have to die, let me die at your feet today…If I have to fall let me fall in love with you my Lord.” — Mooji devotee

“He encourages dependence,” says one person who spent time at the Monte Sahaja ashram. She said it “seemed odd and inappropriate” the way he fueled the worship of himself. “I couldn’t understand why he didn’t tell people to not do it. He would just lap it up. There were times when people were literally just physically hanging off of him.” In videos, Mooji can be seen directing devotees to bow and kiss his feet. One man told Mooji “I never had a father,” to which he replied, “God wanted you here. I am your father now.” Former members describe residents of the ashram as “zombies” who have lost all sense of themselves in their worship of him. 

A scholar with a Ph.D. in Indian religions said that Mooji has no guru lineage as his teacher Papaji was “not authorized to take the gurus seat” by Ramana Maharshi and Mooji was also not authorized by Papaji. “Mooji is a self-appointed guru. In Indian tradition, a self-appointed guru is the least trustworthy person around, because only a dangerously deluded individual would want that position and the adulation that often comes with it.” He also said feet kissing is not a traditional Indian practice in the guru tradition.

Mooji also eats meat including cow and has been married twice in a traditional Hindu marriage by a Hindu priest in a temple in India within 2 years of each other. And he ended both relationships without dissolving the previous marriage which technically makes him a bigamist legally. A source who is Hindu explains. “Most Hindu traditions are vegetarian and no temple or ashram serves meat. By eating cow meat, doing two Hindu weddings without respecting its legality and sacredness, they aren’t promoting Hindu philosophy. They’re ruining its traditional beauty.”

After two Mooji devotees committed suicide in 2017 people are becoming increasingly concerned about the well being of those living under his command at the Monte Sahaja ashram.

VIDEO: The Only Video You Need to See to Know Mooji is Running a Cult

There is music devoted to Mooji as well. One kirtan song, sung to hundreds of his followers who live at his ashram, has the lyrics “Mooji you’re the answer, master you’re the way” repeated over and over again. In another, a devotee sings on stage “Praise to my father, Sri Mooji. Praise to his lotus feet that whatever they touch they make it pure.” Another song has the lyrics “If you have to die, die at the feet of the guru.” Another one sung to Mooji “By your grace I am. I come to life in you. Shiva, Shiva.”

VIDEO: Music for Mooji — “Mooji you’re the answer, master You’re the Way” & “Praise to my father, Sri Mooji, the most humble king”

One person who spent time Monte Sahaja reports seeing “frequent crying, screaming and the appearance of many weird individuals as well as some exorcism-like episodes.” A staff member says exorcisms were common.

“The first exorcism was in Tiruvannamalai around 2011 or 2012. It was a Spanish woman who came in and started to scream on his lap. She was possessed according to Mooji. That night we were there all night and he was trying to get the spirit to leave her but it refused to leave her. And then later on a little girl was possed with many demons according to Mooji.”

She said people with mental illness started to regularly show up and Mooji would tell them they were possessed with demons. People would have voices in their head and other symptoms and he believed they were possessed.

A former member says “There was a lot of indoctrination occurring like naming ceremonies and women would have their heads shaved by him. There were some very strange, bizarre things going on. It felt very unhealthy to me.”

“She was crouched against the wall saying ’no, no, no’ and he took the scissors and cut her hair against her will.”

The staff member who witnessed the exorcisms said Mooji cut her hair and another woman’s hair against their will. Some went along but some did not want it. There were about 20-30 people in total who had their hair cut by Mooji that night. She described what happened:

“I was like ‘I don’t want my hair cut, I don’t want to do it.’ Mooji said ‘No, no. It’s your turn, come on, come on.’ He ordered me to stand in front of him to get my hair cut against my wishes. He would grab our hair and pull it up toward the ceiling and then take the scissors and cut all the way across. It was a bad hair cut. He did the same thing to another woman with very long hair. She was crouched against the wall saying ’no, no, no’ and he took the scissors and cut her hair against her will.”

VIDEO: Mooji Conducts “Divine Ego Exorcism” While Blood-Curdling Screams are Heard in Background

Humble Beginnings

Before Mooji became God he was Tony. Anthony Paul Moo-Young to be precise. Born in Jamaica in 1954 he made his living as a street artist doing charcoal paintings and selling incense. He eventually opened up a small Chai shop in London. As he became interested in ideas of awakening he began teaching to small groups of students which slowly grew over time. According to his bio he spent a few months studying with Papaji and now claims direct lineage to Ramana Maharshi because of it. In 2011 he opened a spiritual center called Monte Sahaja in a remote area of Portugal where he currently lives with hundreds of devotees. He teaches his followers there and around the world that they can attain “immediate awakening.”

“Just one look, one glance, one touch, one word from Mooji can transform your whole life.” — Mooji devotee

Mooji now sits at the top of the self-made guru game. He has 52 million views on Youtube, 70,000 Instagram followers, and 380,000 likes on Facebook. His talks are live-streamed and he runs a membership site with exclusive content. He’s made millions, has a book published on Sounds True and has hundreds of thousands of followers around the world. People line the streets to get a chance to see or touch him and massive crowds come to see him speak. He is one of the most worshiped and sought after spiritual teachers of our time.

But now, for the first time ever, Mooji’s holy status and divine empire are facing major public scrutiny. Allegations of being sexual with students and of running a destructive cult are surfacing — verifying what people have been stating for years in online cult forums and websites. 

“When I see Mooji from these eyes now, I don’t feel like I’m following a man. I feel like I’m following the embodiment of the Christ mind, of the one Braham, God mind.” — Bill Free, Mooji devotee

Breaking the Silence

In January 2019 a former staff member in his ashram and follower posted a video called “The Real Mooji Exposed” on Facebook. She had reached out to someone and got first-hand knowledge of what was happening at the ashram. She publicly called out Mooji and alluded that he was having sex with young students. “What you’re doing, that you know is wrong to young women, all under the guise of spirituality and being a spiritual master, telling them this is their way to quicken their awakening and merge with God. Shame on you. It is a blatant misuse of power and it’s wrong.” She said that she wasn’t one of those girls who could be manipulated or silenced. She said “every single one of my fears was confirmed today” and describes it as “devastating news” as Mooji was her spiritual master. The video caused a stir, garnering over 14,000 views. 

Mooji responded publicly in a Facebook video that has been viewed almost 60,000 times. While he didn’t address any specifics or reference the recent video he said he wasn’t guilty of any of the allegations. “My heart has always been clean before God. I’ve not done anything to harm anyone…It is an intentional and malicious attack on myself.”

A longtime Mooji disciple and Monte Sahaja staff member was one of many who defended their beloved teacher in the comments of the video:

“Moojibaba is impeccable in all aspects of his life and so is Monte Sahaja a pure reflection of the Master’s purity and God’s Grace, for the miracle of awakening happens here. When we go to rest at night I see the Master rushing off to work on yet another project that is to benefit humanity…The Master doesn’t ever think of himself.

For myself I am eternally grateful for knowing Moojibaba, for he has taken me from a kind of death to real life. Through his pointings my eyes were cleaned from the distortions of human thinking that produce the kind of unfounded lies that we encounter in [the] video.”

A young female devotee who’s been living at Monte Sahaja for 3.5 years also commented:

“I could never possibly express the gratitude that I have for my Master in words…It hurts my heart hearing such untrue gossip about him.”

Another devotee’s comment: 

He is not a person, how can you doubt?

Sex with Students & Disciples

There are credible accounts of Mooji engaging sexually with female students. One longtime former disciple who left abruptly claims she had sex with Mooji secretly the entire time she was at Sahaja. Additionally, insiders say that Mooji is sleeping with the three young female disciples who live with him in the secluded gated area of the property. The follower who initially exposed Mooji stated he is telling young women “this is their way to quicken their awakening and merge with God.” It is all happening under coercive mind control and an abusive environment. There are other women who have made themselves known too but are afraid to speak out publicly as well. 

A former senior staff member who spent many years close to Mooji said he has a fetish for “young, hot girls.” She described a pattern of Mooji cheating on his girlfriend and then dumping her for a younger, more attractive woman who was a student. She said it left the women completely devastated and in tears. One girlfriend “was laying there sobbing on the bed, a complete mess, and no one helped her.” She asked her “Why are you crying?” She said “he left me. Mooji left me.” And then the girlfriend would be out of the group or sidelined. Mooji has cheated on his prior three girlfriends with students and dumped them for a new, younger student she said. 

One time Mooji slipped out at night to get away from his girlfriend Radha so he could have sex with a devotee while in India for a retreat she said.

“She was staying next to my room during the retreat and I heard the loud noise of her orgasming because there was one wall between us. I was like ‘she’s having sex.’ I could hear the bed. I was like ‘with whom?’ because I knew there was no guy around she liked. And I went out to see if I could see bikes or something and I saw Mooji’s bike out there. The girl was shouting so loudly. I knew he was having sex with her.

A few weeks later she was expelled from the group. He was speaking bad about her in private satsangs and saying she was a devilish girl. So every woman in the team started outcasting her. One day she was a member, next day nobody likes her.”

This woman wanted something more than just sex but Mooji did not she said. “She was not the abusable type so Mooji realized he stepped into a trap and had to set the team against her.”

She said Mooji later admitted to her that he was there. “Mooji told me he was in her room that night. She said that when he walked in she closed the door and pushed him on the bed and just laid on top of him. He was trying to make it out like she initiated everything or was even groping him. As he was describing what happened his girlfriend Radha walked up and he told me we’d discuss it later.”

On another occasion, she said Mooji kicked her and another staff member out of the apartment late one night to have sex with a student. Mooji’s girlfriend was on vacation. She said they both could have stayed as it was also a communal space but Mooji had other plans.

“I knew he was gonna fuck but I was pretty cool about it. I was like ‘ok, the guy is having a bit of a break. He needs a bit of a refreshment. The girlfriend is away. He can have a treat every once in a while. So, that kind of free mindset.’ We left and it was him and her alone in the house. She slept at his place. The next morning we were walking towards his house. We see him and her walking hand and hand and you could see they were pretty intimate.”

The other staff member asked her ‘Is she the new girlfriend now?” and she said, “nah, it’s fine, just forget about it.” She said they learned to just downplay and ignore these types of things.

After Mooji spent a few nights with this girl he “got his hands clean” of her she said by pairing her up with one of his devotees. They ended up in a long term relationship and the guy had no idea Mooji had just slept with her.

She also described several relationships in which Mooji paired people together or broke them up. “He has broken up so many couples. He wants people to follow him and is obsessed with everyone looking at him.” Mooji would give impassioned speeches to people about how good a person was for another group member and how great they’d be together. To break up couples he’d tell one of the partners how incompatible they were with the other partner and dissuade them from being together. He always did this one on one, not when the couple was with him.

A former staff member described how Mooji broke up her and her husband. At first, she was close with Mooji and he never liked having her husband around when they would be working together. When she and her husband couldn’t both afford to go to India they decided that he would go. Mooji resented her for this she said. When Mooji and her husband returned they were very close and she had been pushed out. And then her husband moved to Portugal and Mooji would not allow her to move there. He intervened in her relationship and separated them. One day she got a call from him saying that he was dating a Mooji disciple.

This pattern showed itself again when Mooji’s girlfriend Radha was pushed out for a younger devotee named Krishnabai. Radha dramatically confronted him during satsang in 2014 after her attempts to create more space between him and Krishnabai failed. One person who witnessed it saw Mooji wave his hand at Radha and say “you were too attached.” He said the whole incident occurred in front of hundreds and was recorded on video. Krishnabai then became his girlfriend and Radha was sidelined and eventually left. “It’s knowledge to those living at Monte Sahajra,” that Krishnabi and Mooji are together a source said.

Krishnabai arrived at the age of 20 and quickly became enamored with Mooji. She said the first time she saw him on stage she was filled with love, joy, and light. She then became a dedicated personal assistant. Krishnabai says she lives in a state of “complete devotion” to Mooji. She claims Mooji has the rare ability to reflect the pure self and is God. Mooji is currently 65 and she is now 27.

Insiders say Krishnabai along with two other female disciples live in Mooji’s private and gated area of the property. They say Mooji is sleeping with them. They are also responsible for dressing and undressing him each day. And these disciples rarely leave the gated area, not even to eat with the group much sources say. A former senior staff member refers to these women as Mooji’s “concubine.” A person who lived at Sahaja said of one of these women has been abused by Mooji. “He treats her like absolute shit. I felt like she was trapped. I knew that she had been screamed at and yelled at.”

And this comment from someone who exposes cults suggests many knew of Mooji’s sexual “antics” from the beginning: 

“The amazing thing about Tony (Moo) is that everyone knew about his proclivities from the get go. Tony’s great chum Reiki Shiva used to regale everyone with tales of his sexual antics to all and sundry in the chai shops of Tiru. It’s a bit like Harvey (Weinstein): everyone knew but they all wanted the starring role so they played along. Harvey was sharing Hollywood stardust, Tony is selling the mystical allure of enlightenment .”

A former staff member said she has seen emails directly between Mooji and female followers to go on dates and engage sexually. This was while he had a girlfriend.

When one of Mooji’s girlfriends got pregnant several years ago she really wanted to keep the baby and Mooji did not. Mooji having a baby was not in his plan of building his empire as it would have introduced a legal obligation to support a child. Someone who was close to the girlfriend at the time says that Mooji coerced her into getting an abortion against her will.

“I told Krishnabai ‘I know Mooji is God.’ She said, ‘That’s good you know that. Most people just think he’s very wise.’” — Former Monte Sahaja volunteer

Inside Mooji’s Monte Sahaja Cult

“Mooji is the sun and we are his rays. He is the ocean and we are his waves. It is his grace only that brought us together in the first place. He is all that there is.” — Mooji devoteee

“People are being traumatized and brainwashed,” a former senior staff member, who had worked closely with Mooji for years said. Former members speaking out claim people are isolated in rural Portugal, thousands of miles from their homes and are under very intense and coercive mind control. It is a highly regulated and abusive environment centered on absolute devotion to Mooji. Members literally believe he is God. “They sound like him, he speaks through them. It’s creepy. It’s almost like they’ve been taken over by him, like he’s possessed them.”

Former members say the Mooji people see on Youtube and in public events is very different than the real Mooji. They describe him as “cruel,” “abusive,” “narcissistic,” “extremely controlling,” “a bully,” “ruthless,” “dangerous,” and a “demon.” One minute Mooji is loving and kind and the next minute he is screaming and yelling at someone or belittling them.

A former volunteer describes an incident when Mooji threw water on a student’s face: 

“We were in the dining area. She asked him a question about her thought process. He then asked a person to slide their glass of water to him. He picked it up and threw the water on the woman’s face. It was a lot of water so it covered her hair and face and was dripping on her clothes. He did this while we were sitting there. No warning. Very calmly. Then he told her ‘go take a walk.’”

She also said Mooji publicly shamed a woman during satsang. “I also remember Mooji reading an email from someone who he said was ‘mentally ill’ and he read her full name so we all knew who she was and said, ‘see what I have to deal with?’”

On one occasion the group doctor was brought in front of Mooji and the community and made to repent and repeatedly apologize for not obeying his commands. Mooji was angry and said, “how long have you been with me and you still don’t act as I want?” He said she wasn’t measuring up to the devotion expected of her and wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be around.

“We may think how cruel the Master is being, but the Master always knows best.” — Mooji devotee and designated teacher

Even Mooji’s daughter is humiliated in front of the group. A former member says it appears she is forced to use public satsangs as her only method of communicating with her father. When she stated during satsang she wanted to leave and live in London he shouted; “I’ll have to shut down the entire Sahaja to afford it!” He controls her and her finances and she would fear being exiled permanently if she ever left without his permission they said.

Former members say Mooji will yell, scream and belittle people regularly in the group. One person says “I also saw him super angry at one of the girls that used to serve him. He was brutal to her and she started crying.” Another echoes this type of behavior, “He would make very outlandish and arrogant remarks and completely embarrass and scrutinize people in front of others…I went to hug him one day and he pushed me off him with an angry look yelling at me because he felt that I didn’t ask enough questions and also called me a devil.” Someone who spent time at Monte Sahaj:

“I spent almost 3 months there last year, I have seen him yelling at people on MANY occasions…She went to Mooji for help and he relentlessly yelled at her in front of over 200 people. She was completely shaken up and her parents are extremely concerned about her. ”

Former members say any criticism or challenge to Mooji or his orders is dismissed as “mind.” One says “you stop questioning anything.” And for members who do act out, Mooji has designated a place to serve as an isolation building. They will receive only one meal a day and learn to “know the self.”

A strict code of silence is enforced 24/7 all year round at the Monte Sahaja ashram, aside from work-related needs. Former members say this leads to isolation and psychological distress. It’s how he prevents people from connecting to each other and their own selves, they say. Members used to be able to talk during meals but Mooji even ordered that to stop because “he didn’t want to hear everyone chatting.” A former volunteer said “You can’t talk to anyone. You are never to speak of your history, your life or anything. You are never, ever supposed to talk about your experience with anyone.” She said a few guys got hell for briefly talking in the smoking area. This was not during a silent retreat. She had no idea it was like that before arriving to volunteer. When she asked a staff member how they were doing they replied, “We don’t ask that kind of question here, but that’s ok, we still love you.”

“Followers are conditioned to march immediately. It’s not natural behavior to scramble like rats to give him what he needs.”

People pay as much as $600 a month to go to Monte Sahaj to do “seva” as volunteers. Critics say Mooji essentially cons vulnerable followers to get free labor by having his ashram designated as a charity. Members work 10 hour days under a very critical and watchful eye. “Clean the showers as if you are cleaning it for Mooji” a volunteer was told. “With all your heart, clean.” She said a few crumbs would drop on the floor while cleaning and someone she didn’t even know came up to her and harshly scolded her. When she was 15 minutes late the first day of volunteering due to severe jet lag and arriving late at night she was heavily belittled by her team leader. The working conditions were disgusting she said. And there were no gloves. Sometimes the work would go into the middle of the night for some crews if Mooji kept the satsang late. 

Routine safety issues on the property would also be ignored and when confronted team members would say “do you not trust the Guru?”

“He’s actually quite cruel. He doesn’t want you to have your own spiritual experience. He has to dominate every aspect of your life. And even then it’s not enough.”

Monte Sahaja center in Portugal

Residents of Monte Sahaja live in a constant state of competition for who can be the most devoted to Mooji. “Somehow he put us in direct competition with each to fight for his acknowledgment and most of us had no idea that that’s what we were doing.” And if he doesn’t like someone’s energy or they haven’t shown enough devotion they are kicked out or ostracized. One student told Mooji that she loves other teachers too and he told her “then go be with them.” Her promised work assignment at Monte Sahaja suddenly disappeared. Another said they experienced awakening and she was kicked out for it. People walk around on eggshells fearing him and wanting to outdo others to show how devoted they are.

Students are taught that the mind is “poison” and to relentlessly attack their own thoughts. When this happens in an environment of social isolation and silence with long work days, where there is no emotional support, heavy mind control and when Mooji is abusing them it is a recipe for disaster former members say.

One former staff member said the gaslighting was frequent.

“There is a lot of gaslighting. It leads to so much self-doubting that you don’t believe anything that you think yourself. You rely on Mooji. And you start to do whatever he wants you to do. You don’t trust your inner voice anymore because you are told so often that it is your ego and you don’t know anymore.”

Mooji controls people’s behavior regularly. As one example, a former staff member of many years said that in Mooji’s pre-Monte Sahaja days he coerced all the vegetarians in the group to eat meat. Even an Indian couple who were vegetarian since birth began eating meat under Mooji’s influence. His girlfriend at the time Radha was the last hold out but even she couldn’t resist Mooji’s coercive pressure. “She wasn’t eating by her own will. Her eyes were closed and he was feeding her chicken.” She was shocked watching this scene unfold she said. 

“In Sahaja he is really turning out to be the monster he wants to be.”

One former staff member said she would have done anything Mooji asked because she thought she was serving God. On one occasion she said Mooji told her a guy had thrown a rock at him but missed. On Mooji’s orders, she threatened him and the guy never came back. She said she would have tried to beat him up if Mooji had ordered. In hindsight, she said she thinks Mooji lied to her about the incident. She also said she heard a woman say she’d jump off of a bridge if Mooji had asked. 

Members of Mooji’s Monte Sahaja cult

Mooji ordered his team to stay on watch 24/7 all night to prevent a heron from eating fish out of his pond. It was a mother trying to feed her babies. When that didn’t work he ordered the heron shot and it was. 

“He is nothing more than a psychopathic, narcissistic mental abuser and con artist out to make money off the backs of broken people.”

Some want to leave the group but can’t because of group pressure, coercion by Mooji, fear of permanent exile from their friends or financial hardship due to commitments to the group. One person who spent a lot of time at Monte Sahaja explains, “I know a lot of people there who are afraid to leave him and afraid to come out and tell what is really happening there. I have begged some of them to leave but they are deeply afraid of him.”

Smuggling €200,000 Cash Into Portugal

A former staff member who was in the planning meeting and present after says Mooji and his team smuggled over €200,000 Euros into Portugal from London. This was from six years of unreported money they had made during retreats and events around the world. The staff member said Mooji worked on a tourist visa all those years and did not have a proper work visa. Another staff member confirms this and said he kept the cash in his room. “Mooji stored tens of thousands of dollars in cash under his bed in his apartment in London. He also had a safe in the closet behind the coats with at least $50,000 cash in it. It was British pounds wrapped in rubber bands.” There was no declaration of taxes before they became a charity in 2010. They took out pounds in London and converted it to Euros which they smuggled to Portugal. They then used this money to purchase Monte Sahaja.

“They were forming a charity and deciding to buy land — 30 hectares, more than €130,000. A person cannot carry more than €10,000. They hid it in the luggage in two different shipments. One of them got caught with the cash. They were all traveling on the same flight, all managed to get through security aside from one guy who got caught with cash. He lied about it and it took him several months to clear it up.”

She said there is a police record of the incident that can be checked using the person’s real name. Another former staff member also confirmed this and says she helped write the statement to the police lying about the origins of the money. She said they told the police the money came from the person who was caught’s book sales.

Another former staff member confirms this and says that she smuggled tens of thousands of dollars in cash on flights for Mooji. She said other staff members would also smuggle cash from America and India to London. “It was always last minute, like the day of the flight or the day before. There was always cash on us.”

When Mooji first purchased Monte Sahaja it had no buildings on it. A former staff member said the whole center was built illegally. “He didn’t have the permits to build on the land. None of the buildings were built legally.”

Selling Spirituality

Mooji sells a variety of spiritual products at his center. “Sahaja Dust” is labeled as “earth Mooji may have walked on.” It’s dirt from their retreat center. Mala beads blessed by Mooji sell for up to 25 Euros. Pictures of Mooji’s feet sell for 1.5 Euros. And he sells blankets that he has personally used.

Two Suicides in One Year

When two members, Florentin (Flo) Camoin and Helen Kelby, committed suicide in 2017 it was not surprising to some who know what’s actually going on in Mooji’s communities. Flo died at Monte Sahaja and Helen died in India. One resident who knew Flo acknowledges the ways in which Mooji’s teachings and the culture at Monte Sahaja contributed to his death: 

“He had no voice for his deep needs and troubles. He needed to be ‘seen’ first as a person before annihilating his identity. He said to a sangha member here that ‘in his life he has never been seen.’ Maybe he needed a subtle ego boost and nourished the ‘spiritual person’ first before cutting off his head. A platform for this must be created to make sure it never happens again.”

There is no emotional support at Monte Sahaja. Anything wrong is just your “mind.” So, you can imagine if someone was struggling at all and then forced to remain silent and keep their problems within. 

Was Flo ever put into isolation? Did Mooji ever counsel Flo or offer him spiritual guidance? Did staff members know that he was struggling? Mooji and the team should be held publicly accountable. What other work and social pressures was he put under?

Former Members Speak Out Online

“I suffer from PTSD from all the psychological trauma he inflicted on me.”

For years people have been posting online about their experiences or the experiences of loved ones connected with Mooji’s ashram in Portugal. They have warned others to stay away and that Mooji is running an abusive cult.

One person who was at Monte Sahaja describes Mooji as a dangerous fraud: 

“I spent 3 months with Mooji and Sahaja and can tell you first hand that he is a BIG fraud. He and his inside clique uses group pressure to psychologocally break you down and control you, leaving you very confused until they even strip that until you are an empty mindless shell…A lot of people there think he is some God because they feel an energy pass through their hands when he touches them..His old body guard I spoke with recently is absolutley terrified of him. This guy is EXTREMELY dangerous and must be stopped.”

One person lost his girlfriend to the group:

“She left her parents and all her friends same way after staying there for three months, she also doesn’t want to come back home from there this year. I can not speak with her anymore, I am afraid that she is manipulated, brainwashed and misguided to do all of this things by the members of this organization, cult. What kind of enlightenment do they teach there to leave your family like this? Please help!?!”

Someone who was at Monte Sahaja warns others: 

“I went to his place in Portugal and there I saw the whole sad truth about this man, I am studiying to become a therapist, I have learned about narcissistic personality disorder, and I have seen many traits and dodgy behaviours in him which are attributed to narcissists…If you want to know about Mooji, educate yourself about NPD (Narcissitic Personality Disorder).

Another lost their partner to the group: 

“My partner went for 3 weeks but he never returned. He left 4 months ago. He is brainwashed, he is lost there with all these people who are incredibly selfish. Mooji is just another fake guru with a very good business.”

Another says family members distanced themselves after joining the group: “My father and his wife are devoted disciples of Mooji and he has sadly estranged himself from his children and grandchildren.”

Another person who spent time there: 

“They got me to break down and cry. They were really nice to me in the beginning and then all of a sudden everyone starting to become hostile towards me. I really didnt understand why they all of a sudden started to act like I was a criminal. After I broke down and showed my vulnerability I started worshippng him like everyone else and then they were nice to me again. I then started to have doubts again and then they started back being mean to me. Wow I knew that something was up. I knew they were afraid that I had a strong mind and I was encouraging others there to leave which they did not like.”

Another warns a mother who’s daughter got into Mooji, “Don´t let your daughter go to Portugal, he is worshipped like a god, there are brainwashing elements in the daily routine, he is a dictator in his Ashram, during the silent retreat we were watched the whole time, I saw really evil people there in his Sangha group.”

This person’s partner got caught up in Mooji’s group: 

“The same almost happened to my husband he went to work at Monte Sahaja for 3 weeks and came back has a zombie. It was really hard to take him out of that stage. It took him 3 years to start behaving normally and because he couldn’t work we lost all the money we had saved for years. Now he is ok and very thankful that I didn’t gave up on him. Now he sees how dangerous Mooji and his people are with their fake love, they will use you and abuse you and when they don’t need you anymore they will kick you out and you have nowhere to go. ”

Another person had to get therapy after her time with Mooji:

“I have sought out counseling after leaving him and had to accept the fact that I unknowingly joined a cult, something I said I would never be a part of. Mentally I was fucked for a while from the mind games he played with me but slowly I am gaining my confidence back in myself which he desperately tried to take away with his incomplete teachings and hypnotic trance techniques. It was VERY hard for me to accept the fact that he is not true. “

It’s Just the Beginning

“When you are living with a master who is in front of you, the very presence is there, it confronts you about things, challenges your perceptions, loves you, beats you, lifts you up…” — Mooji

What is being reported here is a small portion of the abuse and dysfunction that has occurred in Mooji’s cult. Given the rural and isolated location of Mooji’s ashram in Portugal and the fear around speaking about him, much information has remained suppressed. The former staff member who came forward on Facebook with the accounts of Mooji sleeping with students was the first wave. This article is the next. Each thing is a step forward towards truth and exposing the abuse that’s occurring in Mooji’s cult.

[Exposing cults require lots of emotional and financial support. All my work happens only through donations of my supporters. Thanks. Donate Now.]

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The Mad Hatter: Inside Alex Vartman’s “The New Tantra”

Numerous former students and staff are speaking out about sexual, verbal and physical abuse by The New Tantra founder Alex Vartman. They describe a sex cult environment that has left people severely traumatized. Thousands of people have taken The New Tantra courses in over 10 countries since it began in 2010.

NOTE: This article was censored from under suspicious circumstances. Bans Journalist Be Scofield After Sex-Cult Expose

WARNING: This article contains graphic depictions of sexual acts and sexual abuse.

Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented byUnited Talent Agency / FULL BIO / Author contact:


Stephanie Holder (not her real name) was in a group exercise during a New Tantra workshop when she was told founder Alex Vartman wanted to see her. She walked back to a smoke filled room where eight of his staff and assistants circled him “like a rock star” she said. They stared at her intensely. Alex then told his team to get the Non-disclosure Act (NDA) and said to Stephanie, “You are not dressed up in a sexy way, are you? You’re a little bit choppy.” She described what happened next. “He looks at me and says ‘now, I’m going to have sex with you.’ I completely froze. I was like ‘what the fuck?’ The assistants start peeling my clothes off so I’m naked. Then he starts having sex with me.” The assistants stood by, watching. She began feeling an electric current pulsing through her. At that point she says she wasn’t in control of her body anymore. Alex even captured the incident on audio so he wouldn’t miss any brilliant insights uttered while whispering in her ear during sex.

Everyone in the room knew what was going to happen Stephanie said. The guy who brought her back — someone whom she thought could be trusted — was acting awkward and strange. He knew. The staff knew. She was being taken to the Mad Hatter.

Hotlips, Diesel, Mermaid, Helter Skelter, Cheshire Cat, Bulldog — all names given to members of The New Tantra (TNT). The story goes that founder Alex Vartman aka the Mad Hatter and his co-founder would be so high that they could never remember students names so they made up cartoon names in the back room. “This guy looks like Shrek.” It soon became a tradition.

Since making up those first names in 2010 thousands of students have passed through The New Tantra — making it the biggest “tantra” school in Europe. They’ve traveled from all over the world to attend workshops in the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Bali, Egypt, Denmark, New Zealand, Ibiza and Portugal. Courses regularly have around 40 students and have peaked at 80. People pay as much as $700 per level. There are 9 levels in total.

Alex Vartman (real name Sandford Perrett) used to be a top level assistant of sex and relationship guru David Deida, author of “The Way of the Superior Man.” From 1998–2002 Vartman held Satsangs around the world and gained a following by offering non-dual spiritual teachings. At the NoMind festival he apparently had hundreds of students listening to him. He even taught alongside popular spiritual teacher Gangaji for a brief time. In 2004 he taught with Ken Wilber at the Integral center and then visited a series of Ashrams in India before starting TNT in 2010.

An ex-TNT senior staff member guesstimates that Vartman has made a cool million dollars from The New Tantra — all tax free as it is set up in an off-shore company in New Zealand. None of that made its way to the assistants either as none were compensated and they all had to cover housing and travel costs to the workshops. And several staff members do sex work and have to pay royalties on what they earn. Vartman structures trainings so that local organizers in the host country take in the money and tax burden. He is then paid as an independent contractor and funnels the money abroad.

In TNT students are encouraged to explore their sexual fantasies, push through limitations and become “unconditioned” sexual beings. If you got lost and stumbled into a workshop you might see a group orgy, people blindfolded performing sexual acts on each other, break out groups exploring a shared interest such as fisting, anal sex or bondage or Alex Vartman himself getting penetrated during a class by female students with a strap-on.

“Alex told us that doing these sexual exercises could free us from childhood trauma and deliver life-changing transformation, both in our sex lives and in day-to-day existence” said former student Mark Quinn (not his real name).

The sex-positive amongst us would see no problem with consensual exploration of edgy sexual practices. However, there is much more to TNT than meets the eye.

Part 1: Inside Alex Vartman

“A tall, sinuous, enigmatic figure, he kept his sunglasses on throughout the course. He looked, and acted like a powerful teacher — and his background was impressive.”

“It’s a sex cult” says Jason Marshall (not his real name), one of Vartman’s former long time assistants. “It was often like being in an asylum, especially during the sex orgies. Many couldn’t think and looked like zombies. Everyone was high, there was sex everywhere, people were in trance like states.” He said people were “out of their heads.”

Jason is one of several ex-group members who are now speaking publicly about their harrowing time in TNT. They claim Vartman uses verbal, physical and sexual abuse, psychological manipulation, drugs and energetic practices to break people down and control them.

Several former members report being depressed, broken down and deeply traumatized after their time in TNT. Others report ongoing sexual dysfunction and pain.

“It’s a brainwashing machine” said Sarah Bell (not her real name), a former student who completed six levels in the school. “He’s constantly bullying and psychologically breaking down people in the classes. After level 1 and 2 your identity is shifted — your view of yourself is broken apart.”

“Nobody dares” speak up against him because “he is so hard on you” said Crystal Bentham (not her real name). She said he would regularly tell members who challenged him “Shut up! You’re so fucking stupid! You’re so fucking ugly!”

“It was all about demolishing our psyches to conform to Alex’s will” Jason said.

“If people would have set boundaries or had different opinions Alex makes fun of them — he makes them seem ridiculous and casts them out of the group” Jessica Solner (not her real name) said. Boundaries equal ego which must be “thrashed.”

Because Stephanie Holder believed “it was all tantra” she went along with things that she now sees as abusive and manipulative. She had no idea what tantra actually was. “He calls it tantra and spiritual and people pay him money to fulfill his sexual fantasies.” She said Alex is “just some dirty old man, having a private orgy. None of it was tantra.”

“I was so brainwashed thinking the way they think. I was told I had all these issues and thought I was working through them. I was easy prey for him. He is a sexual predator.”

Jason explained in depth why he got involved and why it took so long to leave:

“Looking back at my time in TNT I still have trouble understanding how I could have bought into something so twisted for so long as I did. But then I also get reminded of how deviously clever it all was put together by Alex to attract us all deeper in to his web of deceit and manipulations. Considering that the core ”teaching” was that our ”egos” were never to be trusted and that only people of ”higher levels of consciousness” (i.e. ultimately Alex himself) could be expected to see through these ”egos” and be able to guide us along the path to higher consciousness, and considering that we all bought into this very foundational belief, then it’s not that strange after all that it all went the way it did and that Alex got away with so much apparent abusive behavior. It really took a major breakdown and plenty of external help for me to finally see the twisted truth of it all, and hence be able to leave this toxic environment.

Many of the teachings and practices used were taken from the old wisdom traditions (such as Tibetan, Buddhist, Vedic, Advaita and so on) and contained truths that we all resonated deeply with. Truths that Alex then would twist so they served his own perverted narcissistic desires and self serving intentions, instead of supporting authentic spiritual growth in us his followers.

All of us on the team (and most of the students) really believed in the teachings and that we were growing as spiritual practitioners on our paths to embody ever more fully our divine potential. Alex very cleverly marketed his teachings and methods as belonging to the ’Crazy Wisdom’-traditions, which are famous for using unconventional teaching methods to reach extraordinary levels of breakthroughs. Hence, we came to considered it normal that we were being treated in ways that others would certainly find abusive and destructive. After all, the name of the game in TNT was to ”Kill the Ego” in ourselves and each other.”

Former members also report that Vartman would direct students to have sex with other students, break up couples, tell people they were gay and shame monogamy. “He was mostly interested in playing with and controlling their minds” Jason said.

Former team members say they had to sexually “service” Vartman around the clock. “It was all about Alex’s ass” Marshall said. “Alex liked to get fucked by women with strap-ons or by straight men” says Allison Kemp (not her real name), a former staff member of many years. Members were required to constantly penetrate him for many hours a day. “If you enter Alex’s bedroom you will never come out from there.”

Servicing Alex

“Every staff member and assistant has been sexual with Alex either fucking him anally or being fucked by him” Allison said. He would tell them “You need to fuck me to learn to be a tantric man and to have a tantric imprint and to learn to fuck women.” He would brag to staff that he would charge as much as $10,000 for a day session with him to “tantrically imprint” a woman sexually.

A former student and staff member said that Alex convinced her husband (who was also a member) to pay him $500 to tantrically imprint her by having sex with her. “He put 17 drops of CBD oil on my tongue and so I was totally out of it. He would charge whatever he could get from someone.”

“We were fucking Alex 24 hours a day during our staff vacation in Paris” Allison said. “Whenever you want to sleep you slept one hour and then you fucked him, slept one hour and then you fucked him.” Senior assistants would wake them up saying “It’s your turn to serve now.”

In a workshop in Egypt, the eight women on staff “were constantly serving him sexually” Allison said. “We used strap ons, our hands, fingers — anything. Alex was high the entire 7-day training.”

“If a woman fucked him with a strap on for two hours he’d fuck her for ten minutes and say ‘you should be grateful, now fuck me again.’”

Former staff member Natalie Keiler (not her real name) said she “spent a three-day weekend fucking him.” She said he wouldn’t allow them to take breaks. “It was hours and hours of fucking him with a strap on.”

“Alex got so stoned that he was crawling on the floor mumbling and rambling about god knows what while teaching in the training.”

Jason Marshall said he faced extreme pressure from Alex and the group to be sexual with him.

“It was really fucked up. After initially having avoided the crazy sexual carnage around Alex for the first months on the team I was finally told by Alex’s girlfriend that I no longer had the choice to hide away. I was then brought into Alex’s bedroom where the whole team was already busy with servicing Alex sexually. I was in such a state of shock that I was shivering with fear and hardly able to speak. Alex started ridiculing me saying I was such a coward and that I needed to ”man up.” He then instructed some of the team to get me ready by undressing me and ”fluffing” (i.e. sucking) my cock to get it hard enough for his ass.

The whole experience was so humiliating and so totally against my own will. The whole scenario felt sick and twisted. Alex was my teacher and boss. There was no attraction sexually from either of us what so ever. Hence, it was pure sexual abuse to prove he could have his will in whatever case he wished.”

“He and the team were trying to convince me that I was gay. He said everyone is bisexual. He said I should get a gay partner and live a gay life.”

Natalie said Alex tried very hard to convince her husband that he was gay so that he’d have sex with him.

Allison said Alex “forced and guilt tripped people who would not want to fuck him or have group sex.”

RELATED: The Divine Madman: Inside Shantam Nityama’s “Tantric Sex Cult”

Using Women as Bait

“Alex is not gay, he’s a transvestite.”

“He used the girls as bait to get the guys in” Allison said. “They were told to say ‘You can fuck us after you fuck him.’” Women in group would go to clubs and bars and use Tinder to seduce straight men off the streets. One TNT staff member “always showed a picture of Alex dressed as a woman” to the guys. She would tell the men “You have to fuck him and then you can fuck me.” Allison said Alex would often tell them “You are not allowed to come up if you don’t bring a guy with you that can fuck me.”

Alex Vartman dressed as his transvestite alter ego “Alexis”

“Alex thought the best thing you could get was BBC (big black cock)” Jason said. “In London he made a team member have sex with as many guys as possible in search of the best guys for him. She fucked over 100 guys in a year to find the biggest, strongest men who were great at fucking. There were extra points for black men with big dicks.” He said she ended up being “a complete wreck” from being required to be so promiscuous. Stephanie Holder told me the same woman ended up “dislocating her womb” from having so much sex while in TNT. She is now a key leader in the school.

“Alex Raped Me”

During her second week on the job Allison said Vartman raped her. They had never been sexual in any form previously. “He came into my bedroom around 3 am while I was sleeping and staring penetrating me.” She woke up in shock and froze not knowing what to do. After about ten minutes he told her “I’m now going to fuck you anally” and did for several minutes. This was her boss and her guru. Vartman said she “was a chosen one” and should feel special. Allison told TNT staff what happened but said “they were supporting Alex because that’s how we were trained. We were brainwashed.”

Allison filed a report with the police when she left the group. Because Vartman did not live in the country and they could not interview him they told her there was little they could do.

Kids Exposed to “Drugs and Orgies”

“They had orgies when kids were sleeping few meters away” Stephanie Holder said. A former staff member stated that the lead organizer in Holland would regularly have orgies at his home and his three kids — as young as six years old at the time — were present. “They had to pass his bedroom to go in to the bathroom, so yes, they were exposed to drugs and orgies for many years.” In referring to the Dutch organizer, a former TNT staff member said the kids got used to “even seeing their father fucking Alex in his ass while dramatically cross-dressed as Alexis.” The children of the Denmark organizers and another leader’s child were also in the homes during drug filled orgies Allison said. 

Verbal and Physical Abuse

Former members claim Alex uses a constant state of bullying and verbal abuse to control people.

In her first week around him, former staff member Deborah Volk (not her real name) was “in total shock” as she witnessed Vartman “yell, scream and hit his staff and assistants in the head. People were running around like his servants. The first month I was constantly afraid of him because he was so abusive.”

“Alex came from behind me and touched my back and then I squirted through my pants in front of the group. In that moment I felt pretty ashamed.”

“He’s constantly bullying and psychologically breaking down people in the classes” Sarah Bell (not her real name) said. “A part of the training is that your ego should be able to handle that or it is your own shit. He would deliver the “gift” of verbally abusing people to show you your own shit and give you a reason to work on it and deal with it.”

Jason said he witnessed Alex assaulting a young female staff member. “He took his Iphone with the sharp end and threw it right at her head. He said she was stupid and ‘you could do whatever you want to her.’ She cried, she was hurting like hell.”

During a meeting in her first week on the job Allison says Alex hit her so hard that she “had pain for days” in her thigh. “As he hit me he yelled ‘you stupid fucking cow! Don’t answer questions if you don’t know the right answer! You’re too stupid to answer the question!’”

“He would tell us over the loudspeaker that he put viruses in our brains.”

Natalie Keiler (not her real name) also experienced and witnessed physical violence. “He hit me twice in the face with an open hand on two different occasions. I’ve seen him hit at least two others in the face with a flat palm really, really hard. I’ve seen him use a whip on many people as punishment if someone got an erection during group cuddling sessions.” Natalie also witnessed frequent verbal abuse. “He would call us moron and stupid all the time.”

Magazine profile on The New Tantra in Volkskrant Magazine

Diesel, one of the current head teachers, was brought into the middle of a group in a TNT class and smacked hard across the face by Alex for questioning his teachings Allison said.

Allison said she “saw Alex smack people in the head regularly.”

On one occasion Jason witnessed Vartman abusing a young 21-year old new assistant. She came “flying out, just chucked out of the room, onto the bed opposite the door.” Alex then screamed, “You stupid little fucking cunt, how can you be so fucking stupid? You come here and you’re not even dearmoured? You fucking useless little piece of fucking shit!” Jason said “she wasn’t dearmoured enough in her pussy to be pleasurable for him to fuck.”

“As he hit me he yelled ‘you stupid fucking cow! Don’t answer questions if you don’t know the right answer! You’re too stupid to answer the question!’”

Like other group members Allison internalized the abuse. She said she believed she was “a lower conscious being” because she didn’t know tantra and was new to the group. It was confusing for her because so many said he was a “very respected spiritual person,” and that she should be “lucky to be a part of this” and happy to be with a “Tantra Master.”

Under Surveillance

“Alex had control over every student” Allison said. “Anything said that was negative or critical or even if we were wanting monogamy, it would go directly to Alex through a chain of people.” People wanted to report on others to save themselves she said.

“We were constantly expected to monitor students on the Facebook TNT group The Global Family” Jason said. Facebook was used to bully, gang up on and abuse people who were out of line. “Anything that was questioning Alex had to be deleted, reported or dealt with. If someone who said something critical turned up at a workshop they’d be confronted by it.”

“We thought we were better than every other school, every other person. We were looking down on other people because they were sexually conditioned and we were sexually unconditioned.”

When members shared anything critical about TNT or Alex in the men’s and women’s groups it would find its way back to him and they would be punished. “People were eager to turn in others to save themselves” Allison said. Several former members acknowledge that thought policing was common.

Members were under “constant surveillance” Jason said.

When a student posted in the private Global Family Facebook group that she noticed some similarities between TNT and a cult, Alex got around 100 students involved in a competition to best describe where she was in her ego. All senior students had to take a quiz to reveal their inner thoughts. Alex had found a way to not directly attack her while getting students to “question themselves, defend him and attack the woman.”

Leaving is Dangerous

Deborah said Alex warned members that leaving the group would mean divine retribution. “He would tell all these stories about people that got cancer or fell off of ladders. Alex said ‘One woman was questioning me and she got in a bad, bad accident.’”

“Alex constantly warned us about the danger of being away from him over longer periods of time” Deborah said. “He told us ‘Team members that did that contracted back into their egos and got lost’, which means left the team and TNT.”

“We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that he could sue us if you mention his name. Everyone around him and on the team signed it.”

One Meal a Day

“Alex would tell us ‘In Auschwitz there were no fat people’” said Jason. He meant that you could only be fat if you were eating too much. “All high level students were only allowed to have one meal a day in trainings. He didn’t like fat people.” Vartman also had members do water fasts where they only drank water and ate no food for up to 21 days at a time. “If you eat more than once a day he’d called it ‘shoving your face’” said Sarah Bell.

For those who didn’t get picked during exercises Bell said Vartman used it as an opportunity to bully them. “Alex would say ‘now this is a chance to contemplate why you didn’t get picked. Or he’d say ‘you’re so fat no one would want to be with you.’” She said it was accepted behavior for Alex or TNT staff to make fun of and bully fat people.

Sex With Students

The TNT code of sexual conduct (created by Alex) says that Vartman is not allowed to have sex with women until they have been a student for three years. However, as Stephanie Holder’s account in the opening vignette illustrates, he doesn’t honor this. “He also lets the women students in level 2 fuck him with strap-ons in the workshop room” Allison said. “Students get flattered that they are chosen to fuck him in front of all other people.”

According to the code of conduct Alex is allowed to have sex with male students whenever he wants. “He says men cannot be sexually manipulated” Allison said.

Alex also had sex in front of students Allison said. “He often liked to fuck his girlfriend or have group sex with other members of the team in front of the students to show us.”

Sarah said Alex would “energetically fuck” women from a distance in front of everyone. “Alex taps her back and she would go into involuntary convulsions. He’d then stand back and energetically fuck her and it looked like she was getting fucked by a ghost. Like a sorcerer. It’s dangerous stuff.”

When it comes to staff and assistants, Vartman tells the team “I don’t have sex with them, they have sex with me. They are in their masculine. The ethics don’t apply because they are fucking me.”

Part 2: Inside The New Tantra

“TNT prides itself on extremes, pushing people to, and beyond their limits, either through sexual extremes or verbally, by attacking their personalities to the point where mental dissociation occurs.”

It’s “slut night” and the men and women are dressed up in sexy women’s lingerie. Alex Vartman is wearing a headset microphone pacing around the room yelling “fuck, fuck, fuck!” The 50 students begin engaging with each. It’s not an orgy though because it’s level one. No penetrative sex is allowed but everything else goes.

If students receive a 7 or above out of 10 they can advance to the next level where full-on sex orgies do occur. The more you pushed your own comfort zone, explored your sexuality and did something you may have been uncomfortable with the better score you got. An 8–10 score was awarded with an armband that says “Advanced Sex Practitioner: The New Tantra.” Another one says “Cumming is for Pussies.” Sarah told me people collected them at each level and wore them like badges of honor. Both slogans were trademarked.

Sarah participated in an orgy on the first day of the Bali level 2 course. They were in a yoga studio type classroom with a red light on. Black faux leather type mattresses lined the floor. It began with the teacher pointing to her and another woman and telling them to go in the middle. The assistant then began squirting coconut oil on their bodies as they started kissing and being sexual. More people slowly joined in until everyone was in the middle being sexual.

On “examination night” in level 2 Sarah said Alex asked someone to share a sex fantasy and then asked for someone who’s interested in playing out the same sex fantasy. They’d go into the middle of the room in the circle and begin acting it out in front of the group. Everyone would slowly join in with their own fantasies until everyone was in the middle.

She and others said there were many aspects of the courses they found enjoyable or liberating but that the cult environment tainted the program.

How To Fuck

“Everytime you cum you are putting another nail in the coffin of your relationship.” — Alex Vartman

“In TNT they teach the men to fuck women extremely hard” Deborah Volk said. “We were taught that women are dirty little whores and sluts and should be fucked like that.” During sex Alex would at times tell women “I’m gonna rape you” and would call them “dirty, slutty whores.” She said “That’s how he spoke to women during sex and it’s how he taught men too.” “Alex taught us that women are sex objects to be fucked. Every man on the team has been taught this sexist culture.” Anyone who didn’t go along was “boring” or would be ridiculed Allison said.

Sarah Bell describes how TNT shames clitoral orgasms. “TNT teaches that clit orgasm is a shallow, surface level orgasm that drains ones sexual energy. TNT promoted higher deeper orgasms, like womb orgasm and full-body orgasms, something one could attain with consistent TNT training. This belief that “bad orgasms” had to be avoided at all costs has been very disorienting in my own sex life since TNT. “

They were also very against ejaculating. Foundational to TNT is orgasming without ejaculating. While Alex was having non-stop sex and orgasms he would rarely cum. When he did it was by accident. This was called a miss.

Violent Body Dearmouring

Stephanie said she “was screaming in agony on the floor” during the body dearmouring that is taught in level 1. It involved three people pushing very hard onto the body of the recipient. People were “covered in bruises” she said. It was only after a student suffered broken ribs that Alex allowed the intensity of the dearmouring to reduce. The body dearmouring was one of the elements of the breaking down process Jason said.

Always High

Stephanie Holder said that “Alex and the staff were always high at every event and during the orgies.” She said they “used weed and other drugs” such as poppers and drank. They would also give out viagra to the men so they could perform.” Natalie Keiler said there was “heavy substance abuse of marijuana and poppers” in the group.

Forced Participation

Former students report that when participants were tired, physically unable or simply uninterested in partaking in an exercise they’d be highly pressured or even forced to do it.

Crystal was exhausted and “in some kind of a trance” which left her unable to walk after a session. When she refused to participate, TNT staff told her “Are you this little princess that only wants to receive? You need to serve other people!” She said she could hear but not move or do anything. “And then someone asked me to fuck them with a strap on. I was in an overwhelmed state and they were ordering me. It felt like there was no other option.”

“I never received any tantric teachings in TNT.”

In another level Jennifer had been feeling ill and didn’t want to do the striptease exercise. “They literally put me on my feet in the middle of the circle and made me do it.”

A former TNT member experienced a similar thing from TNT staff. He said he was “thoroughly tired” and it was late. “We both decided to leave right before the exercise. We were stopped. The staff said ‘you shouldn’t be going.’” The course leader was not happy with us leaving.”

Crystal said the answer to any discomfort or suffering was always more TNT. “Every time I felt so horrible after each level and I contacted Ms Diesel. I told her ‘I don’t feel well. I can hardly function at home.’ She’d tell me to do the next level. Even when I was out of money she’d say I could pay in payments.”

Amsterdam, where TNT has taught many trainings.

Pushed to the Extreme

Several members said that Alex would push people’s fantasies to the extreme.

One woman said she was interested in being peed on. “She wanted to try one person just one time” Sarah Bell said. Instead Alex gathered 7 men and said “Everyone pee on her” and instructed them to do so.

When Sarah shared her experience in group of a sexual encounter with another woman the night before she says Alex demanded she reenact it in front of everyone. “He said ‘Do it again, do it right now. Show us what happened. He commands us in the circle of 40 people. This time I’m using a strap on — commanded to the floor.” She said she was thrilled about the experience the night before but not thrilled about getting in front of the group to show it off again.

Sarah Bell described the intensity of the g-spot / squirting workshop. It involved a very rough, forced pumping of the g-spot to make her ejaculate. They were paired up with new students who had never done it before. She said her partner in the workshop was “pumping away” while there was “heavy dark music in the background.” She describes it “very violent.” She said “He was sweating his ass off. No context, no feeling into it. No instruction.” She said the men were told to “Just go in there and pump away for a long time. If it doesn’t work go harder. Soon as I stood up I had a stream of blood running in between my legs.”

Crystal recalled a squirting workshop where approximately 15 men would take turns trying to make her squirt. “Men would come up and put their fingers in your vagina and bang on your g-spot to make you squirt.” She said she tried but couldn’t get into it. “There was only a part of me present — only my body was doing it. The rest of me pulled back because it was so overwhelming.”

“This workshop is clothes-off and features mind-boggling sexually explicit exercises. Here you will learn the essential advanced sex techniques that open up the world of transcendent sexuality.” — TNT Website

In a level 3 training Alex put his girlfriend in “fuck bag” also known as a BDSM “sleepsack” — a dark, tight bag that had hole for the vagina, anus and mouth. For over 20 minutes the ten people in the workshop performed vaginal, anal and oral sex on her. “They performed any sex act they liked” Allison said. No condoms were used. “She couldn’t see anything.” His girlfriend didn’t say no, but Allison explained again that “no one ever said no to Alex. It was a cult. Anyone who went against him would be punished.”

A similar looking bag to what Vartman used in the exercise

The “Candy Store” exercise in level 2 involved laying down blindfolded, naked on a mattress while receiving sex acts from group members. “First the women would go and men would go around fucking them, touching them and doing anything they wanted” Allison said. And then the roles would reverse when they switched positions.

During the “Sacred Ceremony,” which was an orgy, some of the women ejaculated aka “squirted” in the Kava Kava. Crystal reluctantly drank some but when she refused any more a participant almost drowned her. “He grabbed my hair and drowned me in the Kava bowl. I was gasping for air, my hair was totally soaked.” She had two kidney infections after that training. One former student said that during one training a student drank the Kava Kava with ejaculate in it and got very sick with a kidney infection and almost died.

A former student described an exercise they found disturbing. “There was an exercise called the Mommy/Daddy. The point was to find someone who looked like your parent and have sex with them as if they were your parent. The goal was to transform any trauma’s into unconditional love.”

Level 4 is described as a “sacred ceremony.” Crystal said they had no idea what was going to happen. It turned into a “free flow” which meant instructions to “just fuck.” On Saturday they said “Just fuck until Sunday afternoon.” The next morning she said they ask you “how many people did you fuck?” They were graded on how sexual they had been. If they had lower engagement they would be dismissed as a spoiled little princess or a woman that creates drama.

“Demonic Feeding”

Several of the people I spoke with said they experienced a “demonic” or “demonic feeding” type energy in TNT.

Stephanie Holder said “I started seeing the teachers faces morphing into creepy creatures. I saw flashes of faces changing. It was like hallucinogenic, like drugs. It was creeping me out. The energy was so strong there.” She told me she believes “Alex calls whatever he can from astral levels — whatever dark creatures come down they attach themselves to the teachers.” She thinks the students’ “life force energy” was being “fed upon.” She fully acknowledged what she was telling may sound strange to others, but emphasized the unique space that Vartman was able to create.

Another woman said there were “absolutely demonic energies” involved. “I felt like I was possessed for quite some time after I left.” She continued. “I saw a fire demon. At one of the ceremonies, there was one man who turned into a fire demon in front of our eyes. It was like his whole body was burning with literal flames.”

Another source who participated in some of the advanced levels echoed the same thing, claiming that there was a lot of “feeding” of energy occurring. He said it felt “demonic.”

Current TNT Leadership

Alex stepped back from teaching in TNT a few years ago when a long time assistant spoke out publicly about the abuse. This prompted some to believe TNT is ok now. The former members I spoke with warn otherwise.

Allison said “Alex is still controlling everything. He has meetings with them and directs them. Those people are his puppets. They are still brainwashed. The leadership are still holding this culture Alex taught. The school is equally dangerous.”

Natalie Keiler said anyone who is in a leadership position in TNT is dangerous given how brainwashed they all are.

The current director is named Apollo (real name Thomas Hamelryck) and works as a scientist in Denmark. Several former staff members warned about him. One said “I would say he’s even more dangerous than Alex. He is extremely narcissistic. He really treats women like low level of creatures and has a really bad attitude.”

The Aftermath

Several of the people I spoke with reported a wide variety of distressing symptoms after their time in TNT. They said it took many months if not years to recover and some are still recovering now.

Stephanie said “After that weekend, I had a black eye, was covered in bruises, no idea how I got them. Like I was out of my body.”

Former member Kevin Gill said “It’s impossible to stay constantly on this high level of energy without burning out.” He said the nervous system is “constantly activated. And the adrenal glands, they’re just fully on power all the time. I have seen a lot of people burning out.”

One former member describes her post-TNT experience:

“When I left TNT in December 2016, I was in a deep depression and in a burnout. I had never experienced something like that before. In the end I totally hit rock-bottom. I found myself soul broken, I just wanted to give up on everything. I did not recognize myself anymore.”

Sarah Bell:

“Today just thinking about sex makes me shut down. My bladder and G-spot glands are chronically inflamed and it impacts my life in many ways. Sex is generally a disorienting struggle with emotional and physical pain. Even orgasm often causes a trigger response and I shut down. Before TNT I was in tune with my body like a normal person would be, and I enjoyed G-spot orgasms. Today poking my G-spot feels like poking in a wound. This has been going on for me since my first week in TNT, 4 years ago.”

A former member was deeply impacted after TNT. “I was psychotic and depressed for awhile and was then hospitalized for 17 days in a mental hospital.” She said Alex knew she was psychotic and he told her to drive 8.5 hours home and go to the hospital. She said he should have gotten an ambulance or assisted her to get the care she needed. Later she heard Alex’s voice in her head for years in the form of auditory hallucinations.

Tantra Not Trauma

In 2015 a former New Tantra member started a Facebook group called “Tantra Not Trauma” as a play on the TNT initials. The group was originally designed to be a space to speak out and get support about abuse within The New Tantra. It has since evolved into a place for people to report abuse they experience from tantra and spiritual teachers.

The group is part of the global shift occurring right now around abuse in the tantra and spiritual worlds. Alex Vartman is just the latest in a list of other abusive “tantric” leaders to be exposed. What’s become more and more clear is that these leaders are preying upon genuine seekers and abusing the word “tantra” for their own ends. With each article this becomes more clear. Unfortunately these groups have caused a lot of damage, hopefully soon they will be actually focused on tantra not trauma.

NOTE: Alex Vartman did not respond to my request for an interview.

Multiple Women Accuse Asheville EDM Promoter Tyler Ray Palmer of Sexual Assault & Rape

Asheville dubstep/dance music promoter Tyler Ray Palmer has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and rape. His company Unified Events has thrown regional underground parties in Asheville, Charlotte, Marshall and Greenville, SC.

[UPDATE: Tyler Palmer is apparently running a new promotion company under the name “Rage Nation Entertainment” and is planning on throwing events soon.]


Written by Be Scofield
Author contact:

In October of last year Sarah Davis (not her real name) went to Tyler Ray Palmer’s house to hang out and maybe get a massage. She hadn’t met him before but she knew of him through his underground dance music event promotion company Unified Events. They chatted on Facebook messenger for bit. She figured it’d be chill. After hanging for a few she describes what happened:

“I was laying on his bed. I had my shirt pulled up some but I still had my clothes on. He was massaging me and then started massaging my ass a bit. I thought it was a bit weird but didn’t say anything. He then got up and turned the lights off and started massaging my ass a little more. He then pulled down my pants and put himself inside of me. I just completely froze. I didn’t say anything. It only lasted like a minute.”

Sarah’s account that she told me is similar to another woman who also claims to have been raped by Tyler.

Kelly Wilson (not her real name) was hanging out with a small group of friends at a house next door to New Mountain Asheville when the molly she took kicked in way harder than she expected. She went upstairs to lay down because she didn’t feel well. She describes what happened next:

“He then followed me upstairs and asked me if I was ok. I was like ‘yeah, I’m just rolling really hard. I can barely keep my eyes open.’ I told him I just wanted to be alone. I came upstairs to be alone. He proceeded to dismiss that and get into the bed under the covers with me. I was in a state of mind where I was kind of malleable but I was still there. He started touching me and I told him I didn’t want to do anything with him. Then he proceeded to keep touching me and I nudged him away. I pushed him away. He proceeded to pull down my pants and let himself in. He had sex with me. I did not want him too. I said to him at one point while he was doing it, ‘why are you doing this?’ He finished up within a minute and a half and stood up and left my pants the way they were.”

Another woman in Asheville claims Tyler laced her drink and raped her:

“I had chatted with him on Facebook and became an aquaintance with him. He invited me over to hang out and I thought, “Why not? Harmless”. We were just drinking a bit and listening to music. I don’t know what happened to make the tables turn because everything is very hazey after that. But, next thing I know, I was passed out in his bed and he was taking off my clothes. I felt very incoherent, almost drugged…but I don’t know due to no blood tests to confirm. He climbed on top of me and began having sex with me without my consent. Next thing I knew, I was throwing up in the floor. By the time the morning rolled around, I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I got out of there pretty quickly and felt so groggy and weird.”

Multiple Women Come Forward

After Tyler posted on Facebook on March 15th calling out famous dubstep producer Datsik for recent allegations of sexual assault, women decided to come forward and share their stories about him. Tyler wrote that Datsik should be “blacklisted” and that the allegations “make him sick.”

Someone who had only recently become friends with Tyler on Facebook describes what happened after they had initially messaged each other:

“A few days had passed and he asked me to video chat and I did. It started like any normal human conversation until he started asking me if I was wearing panties and asked to show him. I repeatedly said no, I’m not going to take my clothes off for you on cam. He proceeded to keep trying to convince me and eventually started jacking off to me on cam.”

Another person who came forward accused Tyler of groping her without her permission. She said he grabbed her breasts and then tried to take her friends pants off.

One woman who spoke out describes her experience of being at a club with him:

“As the night went on he got really touchy feely with me and I told him he needed to back off. He would not stop following me around, like I went to the restroom and he stood outside the door waiting on me. I couldn’t hoop, venture off by myself or anything because he kept me close by. I eventually had to make an escape…He touched on places he shouldn’t have and wouldn’t let me alone. This dude is not a safe person and everyone needs to be aware around him.”

Another woman said he constantly sent her dick pics:

“For the next two weeks or so until the rave I was supposed to go and hang out with him he sent me dic pics constantly, was always talking about how horny he was and in general I don’t think I ever had a conversation where he didn’t bring up something sexual.” And when they did finally meet up she describes him as pushy, “He was pretty pushy about me going on a walk with him so we could make out. He started groping me and I told him to stop. He put my hand on his dick twice and I took it off immediately both times.”

Another person who came forward:

“He’s a predator. And so many people have known but nothing has been said publicly. He’s been a creep on mine and friends Snapchats. He would send unsolicited dic pics. And then got offended when we got upset. I’ve warned so many girls about him.”

This woman claims Tyler sent her and her friends unsolicited dick pics when they were underage and he was 19:

“I knew Tyler back in high school, and he frequently sent my friends and I unsolicited dick pics. We were all 14/15/16 when he was 18 and 19. He would also constantly ask for nudes and it got to the point where we all just blocked him.”

Several years ago at a party in Annapolis Maryland he groped a young woman:

“He came back and like grabbed on my ass and thighs. He tried like 4 maybe more times before my friends date punched him in the chest. And told him to knock it off. We grabbed my boyfriend and left instantly after that.

He sat next to me in homeroom too. He would touch my legs. He would try to slide his hand over on to my knee. After awhile I just stopped going to homeroom which was also a 1st period so I failed. He harassed me through Facebook once I left the school to go back to my homeschool.”

This woman claims that he tried to blackmail her into having sex with him:

“He belonged to a Facebook group I was in and ended up trying to talk to me, he kept telling me we should meet up and I didn’t want to, a few weeks went by with him still bugging me about meeting up and he starting sending me inappropriate pictures of himself when I was 17. He made a fake profile of me and got pictures from my ex and tried to use them to blackmail me into having sex with him. When I told him I would tell police he showed me conversations he was having with himself as me saying that it was my idea to have sex and it was consensual. Thankfully nothing ever came from that other than the fact he had underaged pictures of me but he does blackmail people into having sex with him.”

As this story was unfolding, people that knew him in Maryland reached out to those in Asheville, sharing that there were multiple allegations of sexual assault and rape against Tyler there as well. They also sent documentation of a criminal record. The document states that he was charged with “Display of Obscene Material to a Minor” and that he plead guilty in April of 2016.

Controversial Parties

One Asheville producer said that Tyler’s parties were using the themes of “Harry Potter and Rick and Morty to get more young people out at his events.” Similarly, another local producer said, “He’s notorious for throwing all ages shows too. His reasoning was that the event was meant to be ‘family friendly.’ Especially at gimmicky ‘kiddie’ places like trampoline parks. Alcohol Law Enforcement shut down one of his shows due to underage girls being provided alcohol in the green room.”

He also tried to throw a “Free the Nipple” themed party where women who were topless get in free and guys pay $20. One woman posted their objections:

After public outcry the event was canceled.

Multiple Facebook Accounts

Tyler also appears to have multiple different Facebook accounts under the same name and at least one fake one which is alarming.

Next Steps

Local dubstep and bass music producers and DJs have organized a thorough and swift campaign on Facebook and elsewhere to inform nightclubs, other musicians and women about Tyler. New Mountain Asheville canceled a recent event as a result of the allegations. DJs are also refusing to play at his events.

None of the women I spoke with for this story wanted to be named publicly. Nor did they want to go to the police. Very few cases like these are successfully prosecuted. They involve long drawn out and often public processes where the accusers past is dug up. They wanted to avoid the potential drama and stress of that process but welcomed an article and more public awareness about Tyler.

There have been comments and posts from women in the local community expressing appreciation for the action being taken, “Thanks for believing the NUMEROUS ladies and putting this creep on blast. That’s how a real man behaves.” Another, “Praise indeed! …very few speak up, and it means so much and is so powerful coming from a brother. Thank you … we need more like you.”

Just days after sexual assault allegations surfaced against dupstep producer Datsik he canceled his entire tour and was dropped from his label and agency. Undoubtedly, we are in a long overdue new era of accountability and awareness surrounding sexual assault. The swift reaction of the Asheville underground dance community to Tyler’s behavior is a part of that movement. Hopefully, the increased attention about these incidents in our society will create a permanent shift in the climate so predators and perpetrators will know they cannot get away with it any longer.