Date: June 29, 2002 12:12AM
There are some common 'red flags' that indicate whether a group has an exploitative agenda;
1) Frequent name changes
2) Mixing techniques and methods from totally different traditions--using yoga and the Oriental Orthodox Church is an example of this.
NOTE: Yogic breathing techniques can be hazardous unless taught by a qualified teacher and in small groups where the welfare of students can be monitored. If you check the educational material on Rick Ross' site, you'' find that certain forms of breath control can be used to alter mental states and make people more suggestible to indoctrination; this is not genuine yoga.
3) the techniques are appropriated from their original spiritual-cultural matrix and are taught as techniques without any attention given to the traditional ethical guidelines that those learning and practicing the techniques were supposed to follow. Yoga, properly understood, is a way of life that is meant to bring human health and psychology into harmony with God and the universe, and living honestly is part of how you accomplish such a goal.
4) Manufacturing impressive 'spiritual pedigrees' and 'name dropping affliliations with famous teachers or groups. For example, the 'Oriental Orthodox Church' sounds suspicious to me. The orthodox churches are a bewildering array of jurisdictions and are usually identified according to ethnic affiliation with clear information about who the bishop is. A true orthodox church would not ordain someone to a healing ministry unless that person were a priest in good standing and the ordination would be done by a bishop or high ranking priest, who would be able to provide a document to that effect.
The big problem with this electic 'mix and match' approach is that the teacher is not accountable to a set of objective guidelines sanctioned by a community and tradition larger than the teacher and served by the teacher; the teacher gets to make the rules and define reality.