I Used To Be a Member of a Cult
And I mean that only half tongue-in-cheek. I was a resident staff member of the Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health for 7 years in the late 80's to mid-90's. Not everyone would agree that Kripalu was a full-blown cult, and my judgment is that it was on the more benign end of the the cult scale. It was a wonderful community in many ways, deeply dysfunctional in others. Many people got incredible benefits from their participation, others got hurt. Many individuals experienced both.
Kripalu's main business was/is that of a year-round residential program center for paying guests, one of the largest of its kind, a peer with Esalen and Omega. The difference was that there was a stronger focus on yoga-based programs, and almost all of the program leaders were fromin-house. These days, in the post-guru phase, there is still a stronger emphasis on yoga, but that includes many outside yoga teachers, and a lot more outside teachers of a wider variety of programs, including many stars of the "New Age" circuit. The implication is, along with those of us who were residents and "karma yogis" (volunteers who worked for room, board, and an arcane progressive set of benefits), there were always numerous paying guests who also had powerful experiences, many of whom also became disciples of "Gurudev".
Kripalu was unusual among new spiritual movements in that we kicked the guru out in 1994, as a result of the discovery of his sexual abuse of power and lies. This capped a growing realization among many of the residents and other disciples that he was not who he and we had made him out to be. I am most proud of what we did. Kripalu still exists as a program center that hosts numerous programs devoted to yoga, personal growth, holistic health, and creativity. The residential community that I was a part of no longer exists. Due to my skepticism about alternative health practices and other New Age beliefs and practices, I have mixed feelings about the enterprise.
Yogi Amrit Desai is still teaching. I mean, one can't expect the guy to make a career change at age 68. It is unclear to me how much guru trappings he has retained. I believe that while the man may have something to offer as a teacher of yoga practice and philosophy, he is also a higly narcissistic, potentially dangerous sociopath who is deficient in conscience.You may get information on his activities here.
Coming soon: Why Did I Choose To Live And Stay There?