This is not the Siddha Yoga intensive but the Center's Leadership course.
Center's Leader Training Course, South Fallsburg Ashram, Summer, 1992
The design of the Center Leader's Training Course that summer was quite
(Corboy--was it unique? Or was it merely LGAT on a harsher level?)
All participants were required to take not only the CLT courses (of
which there were two sessions each day for 5 days, one in the morning
before lunch, and the other in the afternoon after lunch); but were also
required to take a course in the morning (either Traditions of Siddha Yoga
1, or Traditions 2; this course went from after breakfast, until about 1/2
an hour before the CLT began); and a course in the evening, The No Ego
The 3 courses came as a package, and the fee was waived for CLT
participants for both the No Ego Course, and the Traditions courses. A
nominal fee, by SYDA standards was charged for the CLT Course (I seem to
recall it was $50 or so).
The effect of all these courses was that you were constantly being fed
information; you were always kept busy, and there was no extra time in your
day, except early in the morning, before breakfast; but, of course, it was
expected you'd meditate and attend the Guru Gita at those times.
The design of the courses themselves were very clever in imposing a way of thinking on
the participants. The Traditions courses were just informational, but there
was a lot of information, and you were going to be tested at the end.
The CLT courses were also filled with information, but also with exercises for
group processes, notably, TDH, Team Data Handling
, a method of consensus
decision making in small groups.
Also during the trainings, well orchestrated presentations on controversial issues
were presented; for instance, the issue of dress codes was handled very slickly, but kind of
got out of hand, when the Germans and the French rebelled about having
culturally biased (i.e. American) dress codes being forced on them.
The real gem of the whole training, the one that broke down all resistance,
was The No Ego Course. For 5 to 6 hours each night, we were locked in the
hall of Muktananda Mandir and two swamis (Ishwarananda and Durgananda and
Peter Hayes, dressed in robes and masks, browbeat selected people with
personal attacks orchestrated by Gurumayi from the one-way mirrored glass
booth at the back of the hall
. She would tell the swamis and Peter what to
say, and they'd repeat it word for word.
I know this is true, because the
first night, I sat up front, right in front of Peter Hayes, and could hear
Gurumayi's voice coming through his earphone. The next night, they turned
down the sound a bit.
The No Ego Course was classic pressure/release techniques.
Fire and brimstone were hurled at us for hour on end. (And even though not everyone
in the course was called on and personally attacked - there were 500+
people in the course - they made it very clear that anyone could be called
on, and read a list of 40 names at the beginning of each night, and said
that any of these people could be called on tonight, plus 5 more people!)
During the entire course, 3 television cameras panned the audience, and
Gurumayi would tell Peter or the swamis that she could see someone trying
to hide, or sleeping, or whatever.
The effect was a state of constant tension and fear. This was the pressure. The stress level gets very high,
and then is released.(To add to the pressure, the music played at the beginning of the first night was loud, angry, non-SYDA music; some sort of free form jazz; the following nights, an instrumental version of the Guru
Gita was played before and after.)
The release, in this case, came at the end of each night's session, with the soothing music of the Guru Gita being
played. Everyone was told to go into the temple and offer their egos to
Bade Baba. Everyone was told to offer their egos to Gurumayi. Another
release came the next day, in the other two courses and trainings. You were
so relieved to not be under the gun of personal attack, it was a relief to
sit through them.
By the end of the week, you were exhausted from the tiring schedule: up
each morning at 4, meditate, chai, Guru Gita, rush over to Atma Nidi for
breakfast; rush back to the Main Building for the Traditions course; short
break, then into the CLT morning session; rush back to Atma Nidi for lunch;
rush back to the Main Building for afternoon session of CLT; break for
dinner, and back and forth to Atma Nidi again for that; perhaps a few
minutes for some dish seva in the spare 15 or 20 minutes; then it was time
for The No Ego Course in the Main Building, which ran from 7 until around
12:30-1 a.m.. each night.
The final and most intense pressure, after such a tiring week of ups and
downs, of pressures and releases, came on the last night.
A test had been promised, and they had given us volumes of information in with the brow
beating and personal attacks (lists of types of egos, what the
characteristics of each was; lists of all kinds of things to remember).
There was really no time to study for this test, plus they introduced more
lists of things on that final night. The heat was turned up also in the
personal attacks, and people that didn't want to be called on were again
made fun of and ridiculed as not ready to give their egos to the guru.
By 12:30 there had still been no test and they seemed to be wrapping up the
Then they announced that there would be no test, and the course
would end with a chant. Those who wished to leave and go sleep could do so,
those who wished to stay should sit quietly and listen to the English
version of the Guru Gita, for remember, the guru takes away our egos,
surrender to the guru.
People were in tears listening to this soothing melody once again, for it had become the theme song of the release from the pressure, and to actually hear the words, and have them flashed on the
screens up front was a great release.
After about 20 minutes, Gurumayi walked into the hall and to her chair, the canned music stopped and the
live chant began. This was the ultimate release, there she was, the person
we were to release our egos to, here to save us from ourselves with her
love and compassion. (Of course we all overlooked and forgot that she was
the one who was browbeating us for 5 days from the back of the hall, hidden
behind a one way mirror.)
This pressure / release technique is used in many different ways. For
example, the fire and brimstone speeches at Baptist churches, followed by
the introduction of the saving grace of giving yourself to Jesus.
There is actually a chemical reaction happening in your body along with the
emotional roller coaster. The release triggers chemicals that make you feel
like you're being bathed in sweet nectar, covered in love. Siddha Yoga has
learned how to use this technique very well: The Fire Course, The Seva
Course, The No Ego Course. All use pressure/release techniques. Indeed, the
Intensive uses it also to some extent, and the guru is always the release.
Siddha Yoga fosters and promotes a sense of specialness within its ranks,
and indeed the CLT participants were told they were very special indeed. We
were all pretty much separated from everyone else in the ashram, for there
was little time for meeting anyone not in the CLT. We were even given a
special darshan with Gurumayi on the Saturday following the week of
training. We were taught things we couldn't pass on. We were special. And
Gurumayi was pleased with us. So we were happy.