Many years ago I sat on a beach in Hawaii discussing yoga with an acquaintance. He spoke harshly about some sex school in Thailand. “Sex school?” I was intrigued. I occasionally felt mild boredom living in such a sexually disconnected and repressed Puritan society, which is why I found excitement in the idea of a supposed sex cult. He insisted I avoid the place during my upcoming travels due to the seediness and how women were used as objects. Against their will? Then why would they go? I wondered. I asked him when he attended. “I’ve never been. I just heard.” Hmm. Suspicious. How easy one is manipulated by words and ideas that fit our limited mindsets. I believe Wayne Dyer said that judging something we know nothing about is the highest form of ignorance.
A friend and trusted teacher highly recommended the same school. Who to believe? “If you’re on island, you should definitely attend some classes. I spent five years there.” Five years? It was hard to fathom anyone spending that amount of time at a yoga school. My curiosity peaked. I had been studying Tantra on Maui for a while, initially called to the path with desire to expand my sexual experiences. I had no idea how little sex plays a part in Tantra. So I was called to the little island in southern Thailand, compelled to broaden my horizons amongst other seekers on a similar quest.
My First Tantra Session had Nothing to do with Sex
Months later I registered at Agama Yoga University on Koh Phangan, the mystery school I was warned about. I planned to stay a week just to get a taste of the praised yoga classes. I had practiced what I thought was yoga for a decade. So there’s more than asanas? During my short time I received such a vast array of captivating spiritual wisdom, I decided to stay for the month of level one. The hatha practice focused more on an energetic level, bringing awareness to the chakras and how they are directly linked to various states of consciousness.
The classes and lectures were so mind expanding and relevant for a rewarding and spiritually driven life, I couldn’t afford to miss level two. So I extended my trip. I didn’t know how to continue financially but somehow it worked out. I rented my space back home last minute and made the money I needed to stay. It seemed an outside force enabled me to remain on the path that aroused and awakened my spirit. A strange certainty assured me I was where I was meant to be.
I connected with beautiful, like-minded people. I felt comfortable discussing the magic and mysteries of life, rather than conforming to the norm of superficial small talk. I attended Tantra workshops which blasted doors open in my mind and released socially conditioned, negative attachments to sexuality in relation to spirituality. I adored the classes, which I repeated on occasion. I viewed the sacred act differently than those stuck to the heaviness of perversion, sin or fear so I loved being immersed in material to which my positive outlook on sexuality could relate. Was this the same school my prude buddy had bashed?
After a rough phase of difficult emotional bullshit the following year, I knew living in the community I had grown to love would be of great benefit. I needed to be embraced within the holy bubble back on Koh Phangan, safe from self sabotage and pity parties and instead surrounded by conscious souls and high vibrational offerings. I was a wreck when I returned to Agama, deeply wounded and weighed down by a series of heavy personal tragedies. I nearly felt broken, weak and insecure.
After three more unforgettable months of daily classes, my reality shifted to extreme and impressive heights. I became empowered, emotionally stable, wholly joyful and healthier than I had been in ages. Instead of burying, I honored my femininity. I devoted myself to the work. I not only attended more levels but workshops on a variety of subjects including lucid dreaming and naturopathic yogic healing, plus Kashmiri Shaivism and third eye retreats. To me they were priceless. I was thrilled to learn how elaborate the yogic path was, far beyond the typical and semi shallow physical components of Western gymnastics.
Each teacher was knowledgeable and supportive of my personal journey as it blossomed before me. Both male and female instructors held a safe space for me to heal and learn without any indecent or inappropriate words or actions. I was alone on a few occasions with senior male teachers. If only all men approached women that way. What a privilege to be not only seen, but celebrated confidently as divinely feminine. How liberating! I drank it in. I sensed no deliberate male domination or unfit flirting whatsoever. I considered initiating myself since I viewed some of the teachers as incredibly attractive. I admit there were times I fantasized about a male instructor lovingly ravishing me.
Two of the three seasons I spent at Agama, I was abstinent. No sex at a Tantric school?! My energy went towards rejuvenation, filling my cup with substance I resonated with (tossing out that which I didn’t). I spent time merging with higher energies and improving the way I participated in the world with an intention of one day helping others. Little did I know how much proper loving could play an active part.
One year I decided it was best for me to be intimate. Having sex with a Tantric man I trusted had an impact on my entire life. Some of the most enlightening, orgasmic experiences I ever had were in that community. When those involved are in alignment, sex can be a deeply transformative spiritual tool. I had no idea my body had the ability to act as a vessel into such sublime realms or how I could get so high without substances. I bow to those blessed events, as they were my teachers as much as anything else. What an honor to learn what my body, mind and spirit are capable of!
The Tantric wisdom I acquired shifted my reality, opened my heart and expanded my mind beyond the confines of fear, judgment, frustration, competition and hate. It encouraged me to see past dualities, balance feminine and masculine energies and unite with higher vibrations of love and light. The misunderstood system taught me how powerful I am and how I play a role calling in that which is best for my evolution.
Tantra: the Purest Form of Love
My third season (another three months) provided me with even greater in depth teachings. I studied more ancient yogic techniques, the enchantment of transfiguration, diverse meditations, deeper layers of Tantra, varied pranayamas, the mystical magic of mantras and yantras, yoga philosophy, goddess worship and the heart opening of devotional chanting. I felt absolutely incredible, as if each cell danced in soft light.
I also discovered there are extraordinary people from all parts of the world who share similar views, who restored my faith in humanity and who have warmly touched my heart. That in itself was some of the best medicine. And most importantly, I learned about myself and how many layers there are. Although I was outside my comfort zone on occasion, by choice, I wouldn’t change anything, as it all helped me grow and expand my consciousness.
Teachers were available if I struggled with anything. I was treated with respect the entire time. Not once did I feel threatened. Not once did I feel forced to believe or do something against my will. I observed no message men were superior. If anything, I noticed the opposite. From my perspective, there was a strong female influence at Agama. Some of my most respected teachers were female. I would love to mention names only to express my genuine gratitude to those who helped me find myself, who lifted my confidence, trust and optimism and taught me how to follow the yamas and niyamas (moral and ethical guidelines) in my reality outside of school.
A cult though? Oh how we love to throw that word around. Isn’t religion a cult? Society? If Agama is considered a cult, I was fortunate to be a member for a brief time and long to return. With each visit my world became more rich, meaningful, successful and wondrous. I gained insight on how to take responsibility for my happiness while being in harmony with the greater good. I saw the light in others. I gained wisdom on how to live in true health and wellness, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. And sex became a profoundly spiritual experience, amplifying not only pleasure but wild ego abandon, deep devotion, gratitude for life and full-bodied cosmic euphoria.
Still feeling vulnerable and uncertain one year, I made an appointment to meet with Swami Vivekananda (Narcis) privately. I arrived alone to his home. I was mildly intimidated because of his brilliant, charismatic lectures and life changing curriculum. I sat on his couch with him across from me on a chair. We spoke. He was present, kind and encouraged me to follow my own path, even suggesting I teach others. In no way did I feel threatened. I was the one who asked for a hug on my way out. There was no groping or force, only smiles.
Had the founder attempted to cross boundaries in any way, I’d like to think I was strong willed enough to fight him off. But I trusted him. Maybe my dedicated desire to learn would have led me against my own intuition and morals. Maybe he was a good man with pure intentions. Maybe he knew I couldn’t easily be manipulated. Or maybe I was too blind to believe he would ever take advantage of women. Regardless, I’m sickened by what someone I admired has allegedly done. Thoughts run through my mind. How could he do this? Shame on him! How the fuck could anyone teaching spiritual codes of conduct move so far from them?
I can’t compare my experience to anyone else’s. I only know mine was a harmonious one. I know Agama helped heal and enlighten me on very deep levels. I know the education I received resonates with my heart and life’s journey. I know Tantra initially lured me for sexual reasons and how that has shifted to spiritual devotion. I know I am a better person from attending Agama, which is why I’ve gone through various stages of grief due to the recent, upsetting scandals. I was shocked, defensive, then angry in disbelief. Now I feel sorrow. I’m devoted to my own experience yet so hurt and astonished others may have suffered in the same environment I adored. I feel conflicted, off center and confused. But I won’t allow the apparent perverse actions to negate the depth of magnificent gems I received.
The alarming stories which have come forth left me deeply saddened and quite dismantled. My heart goes out to all affected by the morbid gloom. I sympathize with those who have been mistreated, including any who may be wrongly accused or misguided perpetrators. Sexual insecurities and/or abuse of power is a horrible mix. To place blame on the entire school is a drastic approach. To assume others knew and did nothing is also damaging. If the founder or others involved took advantage of their power to coerce students against their will, it is tremendously unfortunate and shouldn’t go unresolved. I would love to believe the words are embellished or terrible fabrications. I would love to deny the sickening accusations. But I don’t know anyone’s truth but my own.
I was a full-time student for eight months, on campus nearly daily, openly sharing many layers of life with other students and confiding in teachers. It never occurred to me anything dark crept behind the shadows. I heard stories, but from those unaffiliated with the school so their sensational words held little relevance. We are not all easily manipulated sheep, although we often act that way. We are in control much more than we might like to admit. We see what we want. We hear and absorb what fits us best. I know I am accountable for each decision I make. I was open to personal development while I was a student and that’s exactly what I received at Agama.
It’s easy to judge from the outside, as my buddy had done years ago. Had I taken his advice, I may have missed out on some of the most illuminating education I have had. Humans are quick to be swayed by their addictive personalities to drama but I don’t condone harmful behavior or defend abuse. I loved the lecture on karma at Agama. How can anyone not practice what they so eloquently preach and behave on the contrary?
Maybe demonic unseen forces possessed the abusers or even the victims. Maybe mixed messages were sent that should have been read better. Maybe those attacking Agama long to lash out towards a different path that’s harder to grasp. Maybe horrible things did happen. I never heard any firsthand accounts of misconduct by anyone at the school, which made me suspicious of the validity of outsiders. At this point it is hard to process the heavy claims boiling to the surface.
I wanted to remain informed with the recent turn of events but the aggressive hostility towards one another through naive, insensitive and offensive comments on social media regarding sexual misconduct are nauseating. I think this cyber storm is the cause for more separation and imbalance, especially when we all apparently agree abuse in any way should not be swept under the rug. I can’t comprehend throwing myself into a mess that has nothing to do with me unless I can be of benefit to the collective. Are the argumentative opinions contributing to harmony or an excuse to fight? Is the desire to support the alleged victims in a conscious and compassionate way, promote healing and shed light? Or blatantly attack those with diverse lifestyles who hold varied beliefs?
If we explore the transformative aspect of Agama, perhaps we could confirm how many individuals benefited from the spiritual teachings. I witnessed students heal a plethora of ailments, rid addictions, recognize the divinity in everyone, absorb and practice the eight limbs of yoga. I was one of many who became grounded in a more balanced, productive and stimulating life with boosted self esteem, improved ability to meditate, heightened physical wellness and a stronger connection to the Divine. Brainwashed? Maybe. But in a society that doesn’t encourage these things, I welcome that kind of brainwashing.
I haven’t attended the school in two years yet I continue to receive support from my instructors. The teachings have substantially enhanced every facet of my life. They amplify my adoration for yoga and the sweet purity of Tantra. I left with techniques which improve my daily existence, emotional stability, mental clarity, and vitality. I’m involved in healthier relationships and my sex life continues to skyrocket. I see the world around me with clearer eyes. Every day I spent at Agama, regardless of challenges or ego triggers, I thought to myself, “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be during this time of my life.” I cherish those rare realizations.
I believe there is a force working to balance the world when our human minds can’t quite understand the continuous process of creation, preservation and destruction. Just as a wildfire may be perceived as something awful, it is also an incredible opportunity for new growth. I’m grateful for some of the worst moments of my past because they have propelled me to where I’m now meant to be. I trust this is the case for everything.
I have sincere gratitude for what I obtained during my time at Agama. I continue to be shaped into the best version of myself with many of the profound and invaluable teachings still catapulting me forward. I hope the university purifies any contamination and remains an option for furthered education and restoration if those who may have been involved in damage are weeded out and darkness is replaced by light. I bow to teachers in every form and I bow in gratitude for the immense abundance of love and grace showered upon me. May we all be happy, free and living in the heart.
Heartfelt Blessings, Adya
“Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched.” ~Babaji
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