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> Ishayas' Ascension, The International Society of Ascension
lucid_dream
post May 20, 2006, 04:43 PM
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Background I: TM

MSI was born Robert Vaughn Abrams in Seattle, Washington in 1949. In his early twenties he became involved with transcendental meditation and spent much of the 1970"s teaching TM, founding centres around the United States and occasionally visiting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Europe. By this time Maharishi had established a large organization and was distanced from his followers, rarely meeting with TM students and teachers and almost never one on one. Nevertheless MSI/Abrams felt a strong spiritual connection with Maharishi and maintained that after repeated requests Maharishi finally agreed to formally accept him as his student (something Maharishi did not generally do).

MSI credits Maharishi as the instigator of his self realization and wrote:
QUOTE
The most significant event in my life occurred in Engelberg, Switzerland on October 18, 1975. I had been meditating for five years by this time and had been teaching meditation since 1971. For most of those years, I had spent at least five hours a day in silence; for several months during that period, twelve to eighteen hours a day were spent in intense inner exploration. This was in part because of the training to become a teacher of meditation and in part because of my deep determination to reach the goal of inner realization in this lifetime.

Maharishi had told us very clearly that five to eight years of regular practice of his techniques would be sufficient for any individual to realize the fifth state of consciousness, the state known as cosmic consciousness, the first stage of enlightenment. He had also said to me in the fall of 1970 that this would be true for me. As I had been very dedicated and consistent with my practice, I was quite certain that I must be very close to attaining this initial goal. But I wasn't sure.

After a particularly inspiring three-hour lecture, Maharishi was walking out of the hotel lobby through a large, slowly moving crowd -- about ten meters away from me. As I watched him slowly walk by talking to others, my continual and deep underlying thought was my silent expectation of the fulfillment of his promises to me. It was fall; it was 1975; the pumpkin of my desire was ripe on the vine. Would it rot, or were my fervent beliefs in tune with Reality? Was I being arrogant? Had I misunderstood him?

Slightly above this silent level of inner belief were three very strong feelings: praise for his wonderful brilliance, gratitude that I could be so fortunate to be there on this course, and a very deep and abiding love. I loved him as much as a father for dedicating his life to sharing his wisdom with us.

As he walked by me, suddenly a beam of pure awareness flowed from his forehead and filled me with its perfect light. This is very hard to put into words, for our language does not easily lend itself to the expression of this kind of experience. It was unlike anything that had ever happened to me: it was new, it was different, it was wonderful. Awareness of the Ascendant is unlike any other experience: it is at once ultimately abstract and yet marvelously concrete; it is infinitely subtle and yet more Real than anything else of our world.

This tale could go on for a very long time, for I have been studying this infinite consciousness every since. From that magical instant of time, the awareness of the unbounded, of the Ascendant, has been my constant companion. It is closer to me than my mind, closer to me than my heart, closer to me than my breathing. It never diminishes in any way, but I have found that it can be increased: at will, I can to move it to others. Sometimes they recognize this. Whenever that happens, we together create a moment of purest joy, of purest wonder.

This unchanging inner awareness of the Ascendant was a wordless gift of Maharishi's infinite consciousness to mine; it is my privilege, task and joy in this life to share this gift with others.

In the 1980's Abrams settled with his family in Fairfield, Iowa; a sizable TM community had gathered there at that time with the founding of the Maharishi International University. There he worked as an architect and worked on a series of spiritual/ fantasy books he had envisioned some years earlier. After numerous rewrites and revisions he self published the first of these, entitled Para, in 1986. Abrams continued working on the next volumes in the series, entitled the Fall of Etan, but was unable to publish them as he ran into increasing financial difficulties in the late 80"s. By around 1989 everything fell apart and he lost his wife, home and business.

Abrams spent the next year and a half wandering around the US, apparently racking up further debts and searching for direction. Disillusioned with the TM movement and its large restrictive organization, Abrams began teaching a new technique that he called Ascension. The method and instructions for Ascension were the same as the TM and TM Siddhi program but the techniques were new. He taught 3 techniques entitled Praise, Gratitude and Love respectively and which he collectively called the Ascension Attitudes after the chapter by the same name in Ruby Nelson"s "The Door of Everything".

Many of Abrams early students were TMers and he endeavored to portray the technique as a natural next step along the same path. Asked what the difference was between TM and Ascension he said that there was no difference. ( in fact most of the teaching material, the practice instructions, and the method itself excepting the actual words of the Ascension Attitudes are identical to TM.) When asked about the source of the Ascension Attitudes he reportedly stated that they came from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his teacher.
Abrams authored a book entitled Ascension as well as worked for a time on an unfinished autobiography by the same name. For several years he continued to promote the teaching but with little response. At some point in the early nineties he began to teach a forth technique which he called a cognition technique. When one of his students at the time by the name of Mark was surprised by this and asked him how many more techniques there were, Abrams told him "I'll let you know as I receive them."



Background II: the Ishayas

Somewhere around the early to mid nineties Abrams surprised his students again by suddenly beginning to speak about the Ishayas, a group of enlightened beings who were themselves the source of the Ascension attitudes and the Teaching that they were now a part of. He began working on a book called First Thunder, talking about the Ishayas as an order of monks in the Himalayas founded 2000 years before by the apostle John on the instructions of Jesus for the purpose of maintaining the teaching of Ascension until the world was ready for it. At this time, Celestine Prophesy was wildly popular in New Age circles and Abrams modeled First Thunder after it, telling it as an adventure story of his journey to the Himalayas where he met the Ishayas and was instructed to bring their teaching to the world. Around this time Abrams changed his name to MSI, or M. Sadashiva Isham, stating that he was not yet permitted to reveal what the M stood for.

First thunder contained a note at the back stating that parts of the book were fictionalized in order to add to the drama of the story and also to protect the actual location of the Ishayas. Although an investigator hired by a former ascender later ascertained that MSI never left the country during the late 80"s and the early 90"s and although his son was receiving letters post marked from around the United States during the year and a half period he claimed to have spent with the Ishayas, the SFA and other organizations still teach on their web sites and in their literature that MSI traveled to India in the late 80"s and spent a year and a half with the Ishayas.

The story was very effective in any case as after the publication of First Thunder, Ascension became very popular. After years of empty intro lectures MSI began his first 6 month teacher training course with a large group in Fiji in 1995. He also published a commentary on the Yoga Sutra entitled "Enlightenment" and a re-write of his earlier work "Para", updated to conform to the Ishaya story and entitled "Second Thunder".
By this time MSI was teaching that there were 108 Ascension Attitudes in total, 27 of which were to be commonly taught, divided into 7 spheres. The first 5 spheres were being taught to the public with the last 2 being reserved soley for teacher trainees.

On returning from the Fiji training, a 40 acre property was purchased in North Carolina with the help of his students and work began on the creation of an SFA Ascension Academy for the purpose of training teachers. The first 6 month teacher training course began there several months after moving onto the new campus and had over 100 participants.

During this time MSI revealed in an evening meeting that the M in his name stood for Maharishi, a sanskrit word meaning "great seer".

At this time MSI was putting the finishing touches on "Third Thunder", a rewrite of of the first part of his unpublished "Fall of Etan" and had begun a translation and commentary on the Brahma Sutra. However, by the time the first course had ended at the end of 1996 MSI had been diagnosed with throat cancer. A new Teacher Training course was begun but over the course of the year MSI's health was steadily declining and by the time the course was half over in the summer of 1997 MSI had died.
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lucid_dream
post May 20, 2006, 04:48 PM
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The Seven States of Consciousness

In the 1960's Maharishi had been formulating a systematic description of the stages of self realization. Originally He had spoken only of Cosmic Consciousness though he later expanded the description to include a second stage he called God Consciousness. These descriptions were a major part of his commentary on the first 6 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. Later, in the early 70"s he began talking about Unity, a third stage of enlightenment and gave a talk on the Seven States of Consciousness which has since become the fundamental TM take on the process of Self Realization. The first four states are traditional in Yoga and Vedanta: the 3 relative states of waking, sleeping and dreaming plus the forth state of turiya or Samadhi, wherein the meditator realizes the unchanging witnessing consciousness@/ Being, underlying the other three changing relative states. This state Maharishi called Transcendental Consciousness.
The next three states appear to be a description unique to Maharishi (there are various descriptions of states beyond the forth in various traditions, however they all differ in significant respects from Maharishi"s presentation.)

Basically, when Transcendental Conscious, through repeated exposure, becomes stabilized and one finds oneself rooted in Being at all times including waking, dreaming and sleeping, that is called Cosmic Consciousness, the first stage of enlightenment. When rooted in that state the senses automatically become increasingly refined and one becomes aware of the presence of God in all things and experiences. This describes the shift to God Consciousness. Finally the last trace of a sense of separation between oneself and God dissolved and one Unites completely with Cosmic Being, within and without. This final phase is called Unified Consciousness or Unity and is considered to be full enlightenment. Maharishi later taught that unity further refines itself in to the state of Brahman Consciousness.

In his writings and teachings, MSI taught the same model, but changed the names of the states of consciousness to Ascendant Consciousness, Perpetual Consciousness, Exalted Consciousness and Unified Consciousness/ Unity. MSI also placed more emphasis on the development of "celestial" perception as one of the defining hallmarks of Exalted Consciousness.

Another departure was the process of "validation". MSI began a process of having teacher trainees "share their experience of the Ascendant" in the evening meetings and eliciting feedback from other trainees or existing teachers. If the group felt that the trainee was having an authentic experience and if he or she was capable of "choosing for it" at any time, that person was then given a PC number and considered to be validated as being established in Perpetual consciousness, the first stage of enlightenment. The "PC number" was based on the order of validation within a particular training i.e. if you were the first in your group to receive validation your number would be 1. Receiving a PC number was one of the qualifications you needed in order to become a teacher.

Based on the PC validations, MSI remarked in 1997 in an article he wrote for Sedona Journal ( a popular channeling magazine) that although enlightenment was traditionally considered the fruit of lifetimes of effort, without fail every participant who had successfully completed the last teacher training course had become enlightened in less than 6 months.

During the first teacher training in North Carolina a teacher from the previous group named Savitri described one night in the evening meeting a change that had occurred in the way that he experienced the ascendant. Another teacher from the same group named Balarama stepped in saying that the same thing was happening with him. MSI told them that they had entered Unified Consciousness and gave them the number 1 to share between them. Thus started the process of the Unity number race.

By the time MSI had died he had validated 10 or so teachers in Unity in the evening meetings. These were the folks he wanted to take over the running of the SFA and the training of teachers after he was gone. The "Unity teachers" as they came to be called (or the UPAC Brat Pack as someone once referred to them at the time) ran the daily operations at the academy and led the teacher trainings and ongoing teachers meetings in addition to having meetings where other teachers would share their experience of ascension with the aim of being validated themselves in Unified Consciousness.

This continued from MSI's death in August of 1997 until December of 1998, by which time just under 30 teachers had received Unity numbers.



The Mythology of Ascension

MSI"s teaching carried with it a unique mythology, mainly rooted in the novels he had authored in the 1980s. A basic understanding of this mythology is essential to be able to understand the changes that took place in the winter of 1998-99.

MSI"s mythology primarily revolved around an immortal figure named Gana. Gana was largely modeled after Shiva and existed of many different levels. On the cosmic level Gana was one of the 4 primary beings in creation and responsible for the powers of destruction including the death of ignorance. The other 3 beings are The Grandfather (the creator, Brahma), Narain (the cosmic dreamer, Narayana) and Almira (the divine mother).

On another level Gana was a liberated being who re-entered creation long ago for the purpose of redeeming it from its long slide into ignorance and emptiness. This Gana was cursed by the Grandfather because of his hubris to be banished into the deepest self forgetfulness and wander in ignorance throughout creation for countless lifetimes.

In one of these lifetimes he was born as Gana, the last prince of a prior home world of humanity before it was destroyed by human ignorance. He escaped with one hundred and eight thousand refugees and inadvertently became involved in a war between a race of immortals from a paradise called Etan and a being called Valin, the personification of ego, emptiness, ignorance etc (in short a kind of a Satan figure and Gana"s cosmic alter ego). In the entailing war Valin was defeated and chained within Gana"s heart, Gana was awarded immortality and most everyone else was killed excepting 10,000 refugees who landed with Gana on the earth to begin civilization anew.

Meanwhile Gana was betrayed by his nephew who had been corrupted by Valin and who had arranged to have Gana poisoned. Since he could not be killed his body became a frozen statue on the earth while his soul wandered in various realms and reincarnated upon the earth. After the poisoning Gana was charged to complete 7 impossible tasks to clear the 7 corrupted wheels of the universal nervous system and thus redeem both himself from the curse of the Grandfather, and all beings from the darkness of ignorance.

The books then go on to detail these tasks during which Gana incarnates, often in multiple lives simultaneously, while his statue body remains frozen upon the earth during the rise and fall of civilizations.

A supporting theme in the books is that of the Seven: seven immortal sages (similar to the Vedic saptarishis) who are the personification of the 7 wheels and who incarnate throughout time to uphold truth and the path of transcendence. They appear repeatedly to assist Gana in his tasks.

The home of the Seven on Earth was Vashti, a hidden valley where the immortal sages dwelt not unlike the similar stories of India, Tibet and China regarding a hidden valley in the Himalayas known by various names (Shambhala, Shangri-la, Yang-sang etc). Apart from his writings, MSI also cast Vashti as a hidden valley in the Himalayas where the Ishayas, 108 immortal ministers to humanity dwelt and occasionally came down from to teach humanity.

In parallel to the Thunder books/Para series, MSI taught his students another mythology - the seven tasks of humanity. The first three tasks were left rather vague, however the settings for the 4th to 6th tasks are well known: the 4th task was said to have taken place during the fall of Atlantis some twelve thousand years ago, the 3rd during the events of the Mahabharata war some five thousand years ago and the sixth was played out with the life and death of Jesus. He tied the Ishayas into this tale by saying that the Ascension attitudes were cognized at the time of Atlantis, brought out of Vashti to the world again by the Ishayas at the time of Mahabharata and then yet again by Christ two thousand years ago. The most recent rise of the Ishayas teaching was part of the seventh and final task of humanity, happening right now.

MSI associated Jesus with Gana as well as associating himself with Gana and in some vague instances, himself with Jesus. Certainly many of his students believed that in some way MSI was another incarnation or form of Jesus.

MSI"s students associated themselves with the characters in MSI"s stories, such as "the 500h of Para/Second Thunder, or with the people living during the times of Christ, Moses, Krishna, Atlantis etc, here again to play out the seventh and final task.

As MSI was approaching his death he frequently told his students that he "wasn"t going anywhereh and many people took this quite literally. MSI had spoken frequently of immortality and after he had died many of his students believed in some way that he would return to them somehow.

Which brings us round to Gana.
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lucid_dream
post May 20, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Gana

In the autumn of 1998, a little over a year after MSI's death, just over 20 teachers had received Unity numbers, and a large number of these were running most of the operations at the SFA between themselves. Still, there was a growing sense of discontent among a number of these teachers at that time. Some were impatient with the growth of the teachers and the fact that still only a small number of them now had Unity numbers. They began putting more pressure on the other teachers by telling them that soon all teachers would require Unity numbers to teach, or by dividing up the teachers meetings into separate groups (those close to unity, those not so close, and those considered stuck).

Others in the group were apparently becoming impatient with their own rate of growth, feeling that focusing on others was lessening their ability to focus on deepening their own experience of Unity. Many of these felt that their next step was entirely inward and would require a more suitable environment. MSI had apparently taught that the shift from Unity to Brahman, like the shift to Perpetual Consciousness, required a temporary retreat from activity and an exclusively inward focus. Thus was born the idea for the Brahman course.

The basic idea for the Brahman course was that a number of the senior Unity teachers would hand over the operations etc of the SFA to a group of newer Unity teachers and leave the Academy for a one year retreat likely to occur mostly in the Himalayas. Most of the teachers involved were from the Fiji Teacher Training, the first large scale training that had occurred just prior to the move to North Carolina two years prior.

As all this was coming together a teacher by the name of Arjuna set out for Dallas to teach for four months at the centre there. Arjuna had been involved with Ascension for several years; he had worked as an assistant in the centre in Seattle while the first large scale teacher training was going on in Fiji and had moved with the group to North Carolina to participate in the first teacher training on that property himself. Prior to Ascension his only exposure to spirituality was mainstream Christianity. During his training he gained a reputation for being the "most stuck" of the group and was the last member to receive his PC number. This reputation persisted for him as a graduated teacher, and when the meetings were divided for a period as mentioned above he was as usual relegated to the "stuck" group.

Arjuna set out by himself to drive to Dallas and later recounted that being by himself he suddenly felt a tremendous freedom. With no one else to listen to and with no one watching or evaluating his actions or intentions he spontaneously began an experiment in listening to and following his heart. He would listen deeply and do whatever his heart prompted him to do, regardless of whether or not it made sense. If he didn"t receive any particular prompts, he wouldn"t do anything, even if intellectually it seemed like there was something he should do. When he got to the centre he continued to experiment with it, experiencing tremendous states of inner expansion so long as he followed only those impulses. He found if he acted without the inner prompt or chose not to follow it, he immediately contracted into intense suffering. He also had other intense experiences such as visions and sudden bouts of extra sensory perception.

In North Carolina, a teacher training had just ended, and a series of intensives were being run in preparation for the next training in the New Year. Rumors very gradually began to circulate around the property that something was happening in Dallas. Balaram, one of the senior teachers at that time had quietly left North Carolina for the centre there and gradually more and more teachers were quietly doing the same. There were also rumors of teachers changing their names, and of something very significant happening. Some people, believing it was just a matter of time before MSI came back to them, began to speculate that that was exactly what was happening.

One evening, after the majority of the senior teachers had left as well as quite a few others, Savitri convened a meeting to discuss what was going on. He began with an excerpt of the New Testament detailing the birth of Christ, and proceeded to tell the group that he had been informed by Balarama that their teacher was in the process of "reconstituting himself" in Dallas. He said that aside from telling him that he has "witnessed miracles", Balarama said little else and that he would be departing that night for Dallas immediately after the meeting. With tears in his eyes and having obvious difficulty speaking amidst his emotion, Savitri told the group "Our Teacher has come back to us".

What people were finding in Dallas was no doubt the last thing they expected: a house full of people gathered around Arjuna, except that it wasn"t the Arjuna they knew. His personality, tone, and gestures were completely changed and exactly matched those of MSI. Accompanying this outer change was a massive energetic presence that filled the room. At times his manner was that of MSI, at other times people felt he resembled Christ or others. He had dropped the name Arjuna and adopted the name Gana. He said that he had awoken, apparently in response to the 27th teacher receiving validation in Unity. Meetings were almost continual, sometimes lasting the whole night and were tremendously intense. He also told the Unity teachers gathered that in fact they were not in Unity, only stabilized Perpetual Conscious.

After a time he began to state that this was not a "walk in". He was the split soul of MSI and had been sleeping all this time. While MSI departed with everyone"s full attention, confusing them in the end with increasingly complex teachings on surrender and manifesting, he was quietly sneaking in the backdoor. Now the full power of the teaching could be released to the world. Instead of talking about the Ascendant, Gana talked about the heart and the need to listen to it and remain there. He told the teachers to stop ascending and "just be".

Several days after Savitri had departed, a group of 4 teachers returned one night to the NC Academy just as a meeting was coming to an end. They seated themselves at the front of the room, all dressed in black and with a rather intense air about them. One of them, whose name had been changed to Vasuki, declared dramatically to the assembled teachers "Lord Gana has Awoken. The Brahman course has begun."

The meeting lasted well into the night and first thing in the morning the whole property was alive with a new task: to gather up and burn all the possessions of everyone who had left for Dallas. The next night another group of 4 teachers arrived back from Dallas and this core group assumed control of the running of the SFA. A semi circle of director"s chairs was created at the front of the room so that the returned teachers could face the meeting as a group. The atmosphere at the meetings at this time was intense as the mood swung from jovial and festival-like at one turn, suddenly becoming inquisition like at another. Meetings would swing back and forth between these two extremes though as the days passed they became more and more exclusively inquisitorial.

Within the first few nights it was announced that the Brahman course would need funds and it was time for everyone to give. People went back to their rooms and gathered up what they had, pooling it into a sum of more than ten thousand dollars. This repeated itself several times though of course the sum shrank considerably each time as people quickly ran out of funds.

People were told they needed to get into their hearts or they would be left behind. A number of people were given a three day ultimatum, after which time they were told to leave if they had not "learned to feel". As things became more intense, several people were given new names such as "Master Manipulator" and "The Man Who Cannot Feel". One woman, who later brought a lawsuit against the SFA, was ordered to do nothing but clean toilets all day, every day, over and over. Several people, in the name of getting them to feel were physically beaten, one seriously enough to warrant a quick trip to the hospital. As this was all going on and a climate of tension and fear increased on the property, groups of people were daily being called out to join the group in Dallas with the instructions to wear all black and bring nothing with them.

In Dallas Gana had told everyone that they were Kings and Queens and they needed to start behaving like it. Credit cards were maxed out as everyone purchased expensive new wardrobes and ate out at expensive restaurants. Around this time two teachers named Gauri and Krishnananda became very unhappy with what was happening and ultimately decided to leave, meeting up at the SFA centre in Vancouver that they had helped to open five months before. Gana criticized them heavily for running away. Meanwhile it was decided to hit the road and the entire group embarked on a road trip out West, eventually settling at length in San Francisco. By this time news had come back to Gana of what was going on back at the SFA. He called several of the teachers in charge out to California and questioned them about it. This, coupled with the fact that after three weeks of spending all the cash and credit the teachers and the SFA had, the money was starting to run out, prompted the return of the whole group to North Carolina a couple days after Christmas.

The first few weeks of Gana"s awakening had been the most intense and over time his old personality traits were gradually reasserting themselves. He had steadily become more grumpy, abrasive and impatient with those around him, giving over to pouting fits now and then. Still, by the time he returned to SFA Gana was plainly still in charge and announced that it was time to let the dust settle and see about getting the teaching back on track. By this time rumors were flying like mad around the Ascension world and the Bulletin Board on the SFA web site was swarming with questions, concerns and outrage. Rumors of abuse, a new leader, teachers not ascending and several hundred thousand dollars spent on expensive cloths and champagne were found there and everywhere that Teachers went. Classes, if they weren"t outright cancelled, were often chaotic and emotional.

Gauri and Krishnanda had refused to return, or even to allow anyone affiliated with the SFA to enter the Vancouver centre. Gradually other teachers feeling disenfranchised from what was happening at the SFA began to join them and within a month a new organization, the International Society of Ascenders was established. One Teacher in particular named Sanatana made it a personal mission to contact any ascenders he could to warn them about what was happening at the SFA and to encourage them to stay away from it (and by extension work with the ISA). In this way several SFA centers changed hands to become ISA centers.

Back at SFA the environment had changed considerably yet again. Under Ganas guidance teachers were encouraged to forget about ascension attitudes and just be. One of the houses was turned into a coffee shop and a basement room in another into a video library. Most days found the Ishayas wandering about, sipping coffee, watching movies and walking the dogs. In February a new Teacher training was still scheduled to start though most of the people signed up had backed out and the majority of the participants were assistants, people who had worked at the SFA for the last year in lieu of the TT tuition. Thus the SFA, already heavily in debt, found itself with hardly any income.

By this time the strain of recent events was beginning to exact a toll on Gana. He was furious with Gauri and Krishnananda for causing a split in the teaching and was also dropping hints that his experience was rapidly fading as he no longer professed to understand what was happening or who he was. He looked quite miserable much of the time though he maintained an authoritative presence. He left the SFA for a brief trip to England at the end of January and shortly after his return he and several other teachers announced that they would shortly be departing North Carolina for an unspecified time to complete the Brahman course. By the beginning of February the new Teacher Training course began and Gana and his companions were soon gone, many of them never to return to the SFA again.



Shakti

Teacher Training at the SFA followed a set structure. It began with the Validator Notes, a series of notes written by MSI to address various questions and difficulties that could conceivably arise for students practicing Ascension. The notes were to be memorized in full before the trainee could begin the main part of teacher training referred to as Cycling (long hours of Ascension mixed with yoga asanas and an evening meeting). Finally the sixth month was dedicated to the study of the Black Book, a black covered printed text containing all the material needed to present a First Sphere Weekend course. Just prior to the commencement of the Teacher Training Gana made a unique decision to send two of the prospective "TTs" directly into Black Book so that they could be graduated quickly as teachers. Shortly afterwards several more Teacher Trainees were also expedited, including one newly arrived from Australia who had received the Sanskrit name of Shakti.

Shortly after arriving in the States, Shakti had had an experience that led her to tell others that she, like Gana, had "woken up". Specifically, she stated repeatedly that she now knew beyond doubt that she was God. With the departure of Gana and his flock, Shakti and her new partner Bhushana began to take an active role in the Teacher Training. Shakti firmly believed that her awakening had been triggered by a long period of intense catharsis in Australia just prior to her coming to SFA, and told others that she was convinced that each person must literally "feel their way to enlightenment" by feeling and expressing all of their emotions.

Most of the existing teachers were unconvinced and resisted her assuming any kind of authority. Something of a power struggle ensued, with Bhushana, herself a teacher for several years at this point, firmly standing by Shakti, stating that she had witnessed a real energetic change in her and often expressing her frustration that others couldn"t see it. At the beginning of March while Shakti was away teaching her first class, there was a short visit to SFA by Gana and a couple of the teachers who had departed with him who had recently settled in a house in Sand Point, Idaho. Gana by this time was more or less functioning on equal footing with the teachers with him,, saying that in his earlier experience he had simply found his Teacher (MSI) in his heart. He also said that by talking about the Heart, he had only ever been talking about the Ascendant and that if people were no longer focusing on the Ascendant then they had misunderstood him. By the time Shakti returned Gana had left again but his words and those of the teachers accompanying him had had an effect. When Shakti next attended a meeting the talk had obviously shifted overnight from the heart and feeling back to the Ascendant and the Ascension Attitudes. Shakti was also told to rejoin the Teacher Training and begin cycling with the group. Initially she refused, expressing disgust with how blindly everyone had shifted their position to follow someone else"s words, or suddenly felt strong because Gana and friends had said this and that against her. Ultimately however, she relented and opted to sit out the Teacher Training.

As the Teacher Training progressed, Shakti fell more or less into step with the rest of the group. When cycling ended at the end of July and the Black Book began she joined the study and practice groups with everyone else. She remarked on a change at this time, saying she could feel herself coming back to herself; she felt her power was coming back. "Cycling is like kryptonite", she said.

At the end of August she and Bhushana and another teacher named Daya departed for South America to teach and hopefully establish a centre. After a very successful tour Daya returned, but Shakti and Bhushana opted to stay. They enlisted the help of a promoter and very soon were conducting huge classes of upwards of one hundred students. Shakti was again promoting herself as Awakened, and also it seems had begun telling students that she had been taught by MSI.

Many at SFA were unhappy with the way Shakti and Bhushana were handling things down in Venezuela and were actively trying to call them back. Eventually the two did briefly return but argued loudly with the group and returned to South America, effectively severing ties with the SFA.

With a booming organization, Shakti and Bhushana published several books. After a couple years Shakti began to go by the title Maharishi Shakti Ishaya, and presided over a number of Teacher Trainings.

Shakti and Bhushanas relationship proved to be something of a roller coaster and after a few years Bhushana decided to return to the United States where she continues to teach, with links on her web site to Los Ishayas, Shakti's organization in South America.



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post May 20, 2006, 04:53 PM
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The SFA after Gana

Early 1999 found the SFA in a very different state than it had been in just three months earlier. In that period the organization had wracked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts which it found itself unable to immediately pay down. All of the teachers who months before had been in a leadership position had left, either to join ISA in Vancouver or Gana in Idaho. From that period onwards different teachers rotated through the various positions in the org depending on who was in North Carolina at the time. Meetings were in general chaotic or ineffective as opinions were diverse and no one held any special authority for decision making. Some centres closed, others separated to join the ISA and though classes continued to be taught throughout the world the activity was in decline.

While Gana and the teachers who had joined him (Balarama, Mahadeva and Manyu) were welcomed warmly when they visited for a few days at the beginning of March, the relationship with the Idaho group quickly soured when it was discovered they had taken with them SFA property such as the contents of the wood shop and the SFA corporate seal which they used to sign over to the SFA any debts that could otherwise be traced back to them such as a pair of Cadillac"s that Kalima and Mahadeva had purchased at the beginning of the year. After the seal was returned contact between the two groups dropped off almost to nothing.

In the Spring Gana returned to the SFA. His experience had entirely fizzled out by this point and he was quite unhappy, blaming himself for everything that had happened with the splitting of the SFA into various splinter groups and the overall state of the organization and teaching. He retained the name Gana and went back to teaching first spheres as he had been doing before. Some six months later while staying at a centre in St Louis he decided to quit teaching altogether and returned to California.

After the conclusion of the Teacher Training course in 1999, the SFA went on to conduct two further TT courses in 2000 and 2001. By the end of the last course however the debts had become so pressing, as had the cost of legal fees paid to defend against multiple law suits, that it was becoming increasingly difficult to scrap together the funds even to feed the course participants. In mid 2000 a decision had been made to sell the property but as the land was so big and the layout unconventional it was difficult to find a buyer. The original intention had been to sell the land to pay off the debts and purchase a much smaller property. But as the situation got worse this idea was gradually abandoned. In mid 2001 the SFA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and on completion of the last Teacher Training course everybody living on the property was asked to leave. As of 2004 the property in North Carolina has not been sold and the SFA consists of only a handful of teachers based in a small centre in New Mexico, a couple in North Carolina, and a handful of loosely affiliated residential centers.


ISA

On its founding, the ISA in Vancouver, British Columbia was composed largely of former senior teachers from the SFA. It had expanded rapidly and soon had centers in Seattle, Washington, Melbourne, Australia and the United Kingdom and Singapore in addition to regular teaching engagements in other spots around North America. Over the next several years however, the organization gradually shrank again as most of the founding members left one by one for various reasons, most of them ceasing to teach Ascension. The centre in Vancouver was moved to the suburb of White Rock and by the winter of 2000/2001 had only a handful of teachers in addition to the ISA"s original founders Krishnananda and Gauri.

They had been conducting at this time a series of retreats at a retreat centre in Nelson, B.C. called Tara Shanti. Most of the participants were students that had learned Ascension from the activities of the ISA Vancouver centre. At the time of the dissolution of the SFA one of these retreats was near completion and a number of the wandering SFA teachers found their way there and made the decision to join. When the group returned in the autumn of 2001 the White Rock centre had become a full house. As 2001 became 2002, more and more teachers began to pour in from the former SFA. In the fall of 2002 a larger property was purchased in Kelowna, B.C. and from there Gauri and Krishnananda began to preside over an ongoing rotation of six month courses dubbed "Mastery of the Self Courses" set to begin at two month intervals.

The new retreat centre in Kelowna, dubbed Ishana, was soon over full and teachers quickly began moving out to establish more centers around the world. Teachers and ascenders alike who join the ISA invariably become the student of either Gauri or Krishnananda and often receive a new Sanskrit name. Most ISA teachers do not attempt to hide there feelings for their teachers and the ISA, often gushing with praise for the two of them or for the harmony of the group. Soon after the move to Kelowna, Krishnananda, apparently at Gauri"s insistence, adopted the title of Maharishi, which his students often refer to him as.

In 2004 the centre was again moved to a new location in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, where it continues to preside over ongoing retreats. At the time of writing, The ISA now has more teachers than the SFA did at its height.



The Ishaya Tradition

The Sandpoint group gradually dispersed over the period of a year or two. One of the few remaining teachers, Kalima, changed location to Oregon around the time of the SFA's dissolution, telling the teachers at the now disintegrating SFA that she would be presiding over a course aimed at establishing all of its participants in Unity. She was soon rejoined by Mahadeva, who had earlier left Idaho for a teaching stint in Florida.

Ultimately the organization dubbed the Ishaya Tradition was formed, which remains a small affair centered in Oregon though possessing the only Ishaya web page with an online forum gives them an added visibility.


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post May 20, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Addendum to MSI and the Ishayas: Context is Everything

When we look at the history of any spiritual organization its easy to simply draw black and white conclusions about the group, or about spirituality and spiritual teachers in general. Supporters or practitioners of a teaching usually see the teaching or teacher as strictly positive, and detractors see the exact opposite. For the most part however techniques and teachings are really neutral and the complexities surrounding the story come entirely from the people involved, students and teachers alike. Techniques are generally mechanical in nature but spirituality itself is not; it is organic, complex, multilayered and plays out differently for different people.

From my own observation, I would say that at the core of all spirituality is a basic, nameless drive in the heart. The heart does not deal in words, concepts and ideas, it is simply existing as it is. So this basic drive is in and of itself very simple and pure in nature. In order to talk about it we have to translate it into mental language, calling it a drive towards the Divine, a desire to unite with God, an impulse to merge and dissolve into the heart of existence, a deep love for what is, however you want to say it. The words sound nice but next to the actual wordless reality in the heart they fall short and are lame at best. We can experience this drive directly through silence and sensitivity, and through the recognition that it is the one aspect of our spiritual search that we have not received from outside of us in any way.

In his writings MSI used an example of what he called pure desire arising from the Ascendant. He said imagine you have a pure desire for a drink of water. This desire bounces off all the internal habits, programs, feelings etc and the next thing you know you"re chugging back a coffee or a beer or something else you don't really need. All you needed was a simple glass of water. From where I stand, the whole story of the SFA written here is really just a story of the interaction of that one nameless impulse in the heart with the tremendous complexity of our human nature. Not just within each individual, but as a whole within the dynamic human exchange that every group is. We tend to idealize spirituality or over simplify it, creating an expectation that if a teaching or technique is true, then whatever group is based around it must reflect that truth in whatever way we think it should (such as being peaceful, harmonious, loving etc). If the group looks chaotic then we become disillusioned and reject the group, teaching, philosophy, technique, etc., call it a cult, you name it. Because of the dysfunctional nature of many groups, many people leaving such groups lose their faith in life and in spirituality in general, blocking out the still present impulse of the heart because they don"t want to be fooled or hurt again.

Why is it like this?

It seems that spirituality and religion have the potential to bring out the very best and the very worst in human nature. Other groups such as coworkers in a company can be messed up but not so much as with religion. Same with groups of friends. With families things have the potential to get much more complex. But with spirituality we are coming to the core of who we are as embodied beings existing out here in the universe for no apparent reason. This deepest core of our humanness contains the greatest emotional, conceptual, reactive complexity. A pure nameless drive in the heart meets our conscious and unconscious minds individually and as a group, and becomes reflected there as desperation, fear of failure, a sense of unworthiness, fear of the uncertainty of everything, a need to conform to an external system, loss of common sense, a need to believe totally in the knowledge or authority of another, dogmatisms, fanaticism, self aggrandizement, etc. Believing we have found the truth in a teaching leads to joy, peace of mind, a desire to tell the world and so on but because its based on something outside of us and can therefore be taken away it can lead in unwholesome and destructive directions or become a rollercoaster of inspiration and depression as we move between states of faith and doubt.

On the other hand becoming deeply involved with a group or teacher can help in countless ways; deepening our focus and commitment, deepening our experience and insight through sharing the path with others and combining our strengths, providing an environment free of distractions and structured to support inward growth, giving us the love and support of friends who have the same take on life, the transmission that comes with the presence of someone awakened beyond the mind etc

Like it or not human life and human nature is very complex and no technique or teaching is going to immediately change that. Are the dramas such as those at the SFA really necessary? I guess that individually they are until each person sees with their whole being that they are not. Until then, each person will act within the context of their current understanding or misunderstanding as the case may be. What else can anyone do?

It seems that this same dynamic plays itself out in the desire to share the truth in those who have had some sort of spiritual awakening. The truth of who we are exists beyond the human story but knowing ourselves as that formless non-personal reality clearly doesn't erase the human being and the complexities of human nature. The potential for corruption of character in someone in the role of a guru is huge. This is why humility is considered absolutely vital in a teacher. Teachers are no more black and white than students and the most wise, loving, generous spirit can still manifest destructive qualities as a look the lives and track records of various well known teachers in this century will demonstrate. In this regard, a teacher named Aziz Kristoff made a comment that has stuck with me. He said "As masters have tremendous compassion for the fragmented minds of their students, so students in return should have some compassion towards their masters! A master is just another human being, who happens to simultaneously experience Oneness with the Universal I AM."

Finally, it's been my observation that spiritual people, for whatever reason, have a tendency to be somewhat gullible and live in fantasy worlds to a greater or lesser degree whilst simultaneously considering themselves to be among the vanguard of evolving humanity. This, in and of itself, is probably the main contributing factor that allows a group to stray so far into the fringe. When we get wrapped up in a sort of mythological, grandiose vision of our group or teaching or teacher, it becomes easy to rationalize almost any behavior, no matter how unrelated it may be to real inner growth in consciousness. For this reason it's important to understand that there is no conflict between focused spiritual growth and a strong dose of common sense. In fact ordinary common sense is the best guide when it comes to keeping things simple and real and avoiding losing sight of our real purpose.



( from http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/4407.html )

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post Mar 13, 2011, 12:21 PM
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lucid_dream,
i came across this page while doing a search on ashrams in north carolina & am fascinated by your posts! i'd love to hear more about your experience there & am curious about your role within the sfa organization? do you still meditate? kinda sounds like a cult? what happened to you while you were there?
~curious_dreamer
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post Mar 13, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Sean wasn't there. He pulled all of this information off of "Fact Net.org" which is a website that allows anyone to place the label of "Cult" on any spiritual practice, belief, organization etc. etc.
The history was written by someone who was there during the course of some of the events and some events that he/she did not experience.

I like to emphasize that if it ain't your experience it ain't your story, unless you just blindly accept what others think and believe as your own belief regardless of whether you have had any experience with the story.

FactNet is full of disgruntled people who seek to pull others into their own beliefs and delusions so they don't feel so alone in their idea that they are victims to everything that happens in the world around them.

Kinda reminds me of how whites approached the blacks prior to the civil rights movement. They were accused of being lazy, ignorant and a threat to civilized white society. As long as everyone went with it then the blacks were segregated by the implications that were made toward their character and their inferiority.

By the way, just for your information, I was there in North Carolina from the beginning of its creation till its dissolution. Not that it's important, but there are as many versions of what went on there as there are versions of political policy and belief when it comes to running the government of the United States.
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post Mar 13, 2011, 06:44 PM
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me too...madhu here ;0} if you were there, than surely you know me....somehow stumbled across this & in reading, so many moments in time, which i had long since forgotten, suddlenly sparked back to life, kinda like a "perfect reliving" as we used to reference in the first spheres... but i must also admit that some of the gross exaggerations came across like a slap with a sting... as for the various versions, i totally grok.... much like witnesses to an accident, i get it & certainly don't want to take away from anyones experience... good or bad... for me personally, i only now that those (ishayas) who's paths i have not crossed in many a moon, are deeply loved & sorely missed<3<3<3 ....btw, who am i replying to???
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post Mar 14, 2011, 07:27 AM
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You wrote:
QUOTE(Guest @ Mar 13, 2011, 08:21 PM) *

kinda sounds like a cult?


Why?
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post Mar 14, 2011, 04:39 PM
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why did i say that? or whay do i want to know who i'm talking to?
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post Mar 14, 2011, 04:41 PM
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whay = why...lol
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post Mar 14, 2011, 04:58 PM
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i too was at SFA in North Carolina from it's beggining, until its dissolution (oct 15, 2001)... (i admit to perhaps a tinge of "baiting" in an attempt to determine the source of "lucid dreaming"... no, i do not think it was a cult... although i can see where some aspects may resemble ones description of a cult & cannot deny somewhere their experince... that however was not my experience... & although "some" of the things afore mentioned by lucid_dream are accurate in detail with regard to time line, most of it is presented "way" out of context & has been grossly twisted... some of it never happened at all... that kinda makes me feel sad... your earlier assessment seemed quite acurate indeed...

"FactNet is full of disgruntled people who seek to pull others into their own beliefs and delusions so they don't feel so alone in their idea that they are victims to everything that happens in the world around them."

if the "why?" was referring to "who am i talking to?" well, that's simple... if you truly were there as well, then chances are that we once quite familiar with one another & would love to formally say "hello old freind" & if perhaps a descriptor of our relationship was one of "aversion", well that's okay too because i would still probably say "it is great to recconnect & i hope that all is well under your corner of the starry sky"... we have all continued to grow & change over the years, as has the teaching... but regardless of differences in past or present recollections/experiences, we still have a single common denominator... a desire to know the highest Truth, to be "at-one-ment" so to speak...
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