My wife and I spent more than a decade involved with several different Ishaya organizations as teachers (SFA, ISA, and The Bright Path) and have since relinquished any involvement with any and all Ishaya groups as of a few years ago. Rather than labeling the groups/organizations as either cults or not cults it seems more important to point out a few important things to be aware of within these particlar types of organizations. It is common for an Ishaya group to emphasize innocence as a key teaching, and yet it would be wise to avoid being overly naive when considering serious involvement. This is best accomplished by being properly educated. There are resources available that would be best explored before making what may be quite a serious life-altering decision.
We have seen individuals who are very careful in all other areas of their lives throw all caution to the wind and dive head first into a seriously committed Ishaya group and with a 'Teacher' without hesitation and with little understanding of what they are getting into. Typically this lack of foresight is seen as noble within the organizations. I heard many who had taken a vow to their Ishaya "Teacher" and mention that they didn't know what they were really getting themselves into. After following a considerable trail of many self-styled "Teachers", we no longer agree with the binding vows that have become central to many Ishaya groups. It is our view that guidance must be non-binding and non-controlling to be truly integrous. An eternally binding vow taken to a presumed "totally free" Teacher exists within a context of control. The very nature of that which is binding is control.
David Hawkins MD PHD offers the following council -
"it is important to remember the high teaching 'Swear not nor take any oaths, nor make any pledges or binding commitments, nor commit any other bondage, for there are within them hidden, unseen consequences and karmic entrapments.' Remember that one's allegiance is due only to God, to one's relationship to God, and to purity and holiness. No organization has any special favor with God, and all organizations as such are based on ego premises and illusions. To bind oneself to illusion can have unseen karmic consequences. These are detainments and pitfalls to be avoided by the wise. It is obvious on the face of it that the purpose of an oath is to bind. The ego is already laden down with a multitude of illusions and does not need to be impaired by another one.
"Groups that require oaths of fealty or the swearing by oaths (some of which include description of demonic consequences if the oath is broken), promise a specialness and an exclusiveness, such as secrets or an inside track to God or special favors. It is important to realize that there are no special secrets or favors to be granted. All that needs to be known is already available. God has nothing to hide nor does the Avatar. The enlightened sages, the advanced spiritual teachers, and the saints have nothing to hide. The pure in heart and the honest have nothing to conceal."
We remained with the above mentioned Ishaya groups for as long as we did because the techniques are indeed effective in enhancing well-being and do connect one with an awareness of Silence beneath the flow of thoughts. But we also noticed that within the ranks of teachers that debt was prevalent for many except for the leadership, who always seemed to justify a high cash flow, even if those bending over backwards for them received hardly anything. Also there were some questionable aspects of the teaching thrown in amongst the valid aspects. The naive assume that if part of it is true then everything else must be too.
Our biggest lesson was in pledging blind allegiance to the 'man in charge'. Posturing and lip service may be incredibly convincing. Even so, one cannot be too careful. No matter how convincing and charismatic the leader may be, the student really has no way of knowing how truly free the one they are entrusting their heart, mind, body and soul to really is. The best one can do is assume. And sure, the organizations we were involved with resulted in enough trial and error that the awareness of Silence became apparent. But this is just the beginning. To be stable in the midst of 'ordinary' life, facing taxes, family, bills, mortgage is not less-than but a wonderful way to embrace all aspects of life and to see the spiritual and everyday life are not different.
We could say much more here, but it is best left to you to do your homework. The following are highly recommended resources. It is best to arm yourself by realizing that others have walked a similar path. Their words are valuable.
The teachings of David Hawkins Md Phd can be found at www.veritaspub.com and www.consciousnessproject.org and are second to none in outlining the clear and pure spiritual pathways.
The book "After the Ecstasty the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield is highly recommended as the author shares his wisdom from several decades of involvement with groups as a meditation teacher
"The Guru Papers" by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad has some valuable information on how power can be misused in a spiritual context.
Since we have abandoned involvement with we have spoken with many others - many who have taken a new direction like us and many who remain involved with an Ishaya organization. Our intention is not to be anti-Ishaya groups, but merely to share what we have observed through our experience, the good and the bad.
We are open to speaking with anyone.
My name is Chad and was formerly known as 'Bhrigu Ishaya' my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
My wife Carolyn was known as 'Soma' and her email is email@example.com