The Movement for Spiritual Integration Into the Absolute and Violence
The yoga organization called „The Movement for Spiritual Integration Into the Absolute” (MISA) has acted as both a victim and a perpetrator of violence. Among others, the media has attacked both the organization as a whole and a number of distinct members on various occasions. In 2004, 300 masked and armed gendarmes and prosecutors broke into ashrams (yogi collective homes), intimidated the yogis who lived there and illegally confiscated numerous goods. Inside MISA one can find numerous instances of symbolic violence, verbal violence and psychological abuse.
MISA was founded on the 1st of January, 1990, with Gregorian Bivolaru acting first as president and later, when he resigned his position, as ‘spiritual mentor’. However, both Bivolaru and a number of key people in the organization started to learn, practice and, in some cases, teach yoga during the communist regime, when it was illegal. In 1984, Bivolaru was arrested, but managed to escape, only to be later captured again and condemned to two years of prison. In 1989, he was arrested again and sent to the Poiana Mare hospital for political prisoners and people with psychological issues („MEMORIU…”). In 1989, the Securitate arrested a number of yogis, among which Bivolaru. A few testimonials of abuses against their group can be found in Gabriel Andreescu’s book, Reprimarea Mişcării Yoga în Anii ’80 (The Repression of the Yoga Movement in the ’80s). Mihaela Ambăruş states that she was taken to see Bivolaru and a member of the Securitate tell her that he had been tortured by „squeezing his fingers at the door with pencils”(106). Claudiu Trandafir, a yoga instructor, states that he heard Bivolaru’s screams as he was beaten (156). Angela Maria Mayer and Nicolae Catrina say that they were beaten and starved (92, 125, 127). Gabriela Ambăruş, remembers that during a beating she had the soles of her feet hurt so badly that she could hardly walk (107).
After the Revolution, the ban upon yoga was lifted and the newly-founded MISA organized courses in the entire country. However, yogis report that the authorities continued to cause them problems by trying to dissuade those who were willing to lend them room in which to hold their classes from doing so. Bivolaru claims that in 1994 and 1995, he has had two attempts upon his life by the „structures of the communist and antitheist Securitate […] hiding amongst the new institutions of the state, especially as part of the secret services”. During the first attempt, he was attacked and severely beaten, only to be rescued when neighbours came to the scene. The police did not investigate this case. During the second attempt, an explosion took place in Bivolaru’s apartment, which was blamed on negligence. („MEMORIU…”) It should be taken into account, however, that Bivolaru has repeatedly stated that these actions were part of a freemason conspiracy against spirituality in general and MISA and himself in particular. He presents himself as a heroic man standing bravely against communism, a person who escaped the arrest of the Securitate in 1984 through paranormal powers and a correspondent of Mircea Eliade’s. However, to these claims, we find opposed the declarations of Gelu Voican Voiculescu, a close acquaintance of his during communism, who says that he was not tortured during his first arrest, or during his first imprisonment, that he could practice yoga in jail and that his escape was by no means paranormal, but by climbing over the fence with a ladder that had been placed there as a set up. Also, his correspondence with Mircea Eliade appears to be fictive, since no evidence of it has ever been found. (Berdeli)
On the 18th of March, 2004, 300 prosecutors and gendarmes broke into 16 ashrams (yogi collective homes), supposedly in an operation against drug and human trafficking and organized crime. This event, as well as others that preceded and followed it, is presented in the documentary film Looking for the Truth. The yogis state that they were threatened with guns, knocked down, held in a state of terror and even beaten. Trucks of goods and documents were confiscated as evidence. Protests were organized during the following days, the media presenting the case very unfavorably towards them. One of the yogis, Mădălina Dumitru, 17 years old, was taken to the police, refused the right to having a lawyer or legal guardian with her and brutalized in order to determine her to sign a declaration saying that she had slept with Gregorian Bivolaru. She was later taken to the National Forensic Institution and forced to have a gynecological examination. A group of yogis immediately came to protest, resulting in altercations during which a man was severely injured and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. After these events, Bivolaru attempted to leave the country once, was arrested, released, managed to leave the country and went to Sweden where he was granted political asylum.
It is interesting to change the perspective now and see these events not from the outside of MISA towards the inside, but the other way around, as they serve as tools for the symbolic violence in the organization. For this, we need a better understanding of MISA.
First of all, MISA strongly states that it is not a religious sect and has posted, on its official website, reports that agree with this, such as, for example, Karl Erik Nylund’s, a Swedish sect expert („Raportul…”), which is based on interviews with Gregorian Bivolaru, Mihai Stoian, six yogis, three of which Danish and three Romanian and an ex-UE member of the parliament. He says that in order for a group to be a manipulative sect, three out of four criteria must be met. The criteria are the following: Aggression (the punishment of those who criticize the leader or the movement), Aversion (criticizing and persecuting those outside the group, such as parents), Alienation (a closed circuit in the sect, as a geographical or ideological group; the sect becomes a new family), and Absolute Truth (which is not considered to exist anywhere but in the sect and the leader/leaders have an absolute right to interpret it). Nylund claims that his research led him to believe that these criteria are not met in MISA. However, proof to the contrary can easily be found.
As far as Aggression is concerned, in the Program for the Yoga Symposium Costinesti 2008, all those who participate in the summer camp are told to denounce those who ‘gossip’ against MISA or Bivolaru, so that the organization can be ‘cleansed’. Those who are thus accused of such actions would be publicly denounced, with full details of their offenses and would be denied the right to ever participate in any other MISA yoga camps. („IN ATENTIA…”)
Aversion takes the shape of pointing out differences between ‘common people’ and ‘yogis’. ‘Common people’ are said to be unhappy in relationships, unaware of the spiritual aspects of the universe, manipulated by the media, used by freemasonry, sexually miserable, led by the basic parts of their nature. For example, in the article „Conventional Couple – Spiritual Couple” on their official website, they say that „It is essential to understand typical mistakes made in a „normal” or „conventional” couple. From the beginning this kind of a relationship is doomed to failure.” It then proceeds to describe the ‘conventional couple’ in terms that would rather apply to a dysfunctional couple: „You wish to impose your different points of view on the other. You feel separated, alone and unfulfilled. There is fear of abandonment.”; „The lovers create rules because they no longer enjoy spending time together. They enter into a routine that destroys creativity and inventiveness. Each begins to think the other is the source of unhappiness and this is the reason why each must defend themself.”
Alienation is induced by the aforementioned aversion, by the number of secrets a yogi must keep from outsides (starting with information revealed in courses and continuing with some activities he or she might participate to) and ideological differences from ‘common people’, such as the belief in 2012 as a year of possible Apocalypse, the world conspiracy of freemasonry or in meditating in order to contact aliens.
Absolute truth can be observed as far as Bivolaru is regarded: he is said to have obtained spiritual enlightenment at 19 years of age („Biografie”), which means, in the yogi mentality, that he is unable to be wrong. In a message at the spiral meditation on the 14th of October 2006, he confirms this vision by saying: „The aspirant must not criticize or gossip about his spiritual guide. He must do everything that his spiritual guide tells him to do to the letter”.
The fact that Nylund’s study claims that these criteria are not met by MISA can perhaps be explained by insufficient research. Seppo Istolato, a human rights activist who collaborated with MISA in the struggle against authorities in Romania for two years, says that he did not realize the situation at first, but only gradually came to realize that there were irregularities and the collaboration between himself and the movement came to a halt when he started criticizing it. He says that it has all the characteristics of a cult: one leader, one truth and the isolation of the yogi from society, positioning itself outside the world (Misa – The Dark Side of a Tantric Cult). We shall keep these characteristics in mind while approaching the subject of violence in MISA.
As we have mentioned before, the violence within the movement is mostly symbolic, which Pierre Bourdieu defines as „the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity” („Symbolic Violence”), verbal and psychological.
Symbolic violence starts from the first few courses, first subtly. The information received is as soon as the third course (third week) used to create a difference between the yogi and the common man, in this first case to say that the common man is enslaved by his own spontaneous, uncontrollable thoughts. Later, to this will be added differences between the two as far as romantic relationships are concerned, as we have seen above and as far as knowledge of the world is concerned. In the eighth course, the topic of sexual prowesses and types of orgasm is also brought up, the two being connected to tantra and the idea of sexual continence, two of the subjects that MISA concerns itself with frequently. While we will not discuss sexual continence here, it is interesting to note that while comparing a ‘common’ couple’s sexual patterns with those of a yogi couple, it is claimed that in the case of the first „the woman is passive, the man is active” and for the second it is the other way around; for the first, again, „egotistic desire” and „loss of consciousness” are characteristic. This is interesting because later, pornographic films will be created with the declared purpose of educating the ‘common people’, as Johannes Suoranta, yoga teacher in Helsinki says ( Misa – The Dark Side of a Tantric Cult).
As soon as the ninth course, the first ‘secret’ information is revealed. It concerns concepts of yin, yang and energy, which, the yogi student is told, cannot be properly understood by ‘common people’. As time goes by and the student advances in the years of practice (the yoga course never stops; when a yogi finishes one year, he is moved into a superior one, as one would be in school; currently there are over 20 years), the number of secrets increases until it becomes obvious that no information can be shared with ‘common people’ or with yogis in lower years. Starting with the 27th course of the 15th year, the handouts are written in code, the words being turned into numbers according to an algorithm that is told to the yogis who can then decipher them. The reason for this is given at the beginning of each handout: „Information coded because of the impertinent pirating of the courses and their being shared on the internet.”
It is not only information that is secret, but also activities can become so. While the yogi is just forbidden to speak of the information received in courses, he is however made to swear on the Bible not to reveal secrets that are shared with him elsewhere. The formula that one must repeat out loud for this starts with „I swear before God on my health and spiritual evolution”, which is abusive, because the yogi does not know what the secret is before swearing and, in case he or she is a person of their word or believes in their oath, when confronted with immoral or illegal activities, they find themselves unwilling accomplices.
From the 23rd course of the first year, the yogi is told about the importance of the spiritual master: „5) The spiritual master (GURU), being our only guide on the Path that leads us to spiritual liberation, to leave him before we have become truly enlightened would be a cause for regret.” and „7) Perfect Wisdom can be revealed inside our beings only through the model and grace of our spiritual master.” These are given either as quotes or paraphrases from Preceptele esenţiale ale înţelepciunii, the first book, „Calea supremă a discipolilor aşa cum este oglindită ea în preceptele maeştrilor spirituali.” However, no further information on this book is revealed and it is virtually not to be found. Later, other characteristics of spiritual masters are presented to the yogi: they are always correct, they may act in paradoxical ways, the faults that a person may perceive in their character are actually the faults that said person has themselves. While Gregorian Bivolaru does not call himself a spiritual master, claiming that God is the supreme master, he allows and even encourages his disciples to consider him such, to the point in which „Camps for the Improvement of the Relationship between Master and Disciple” („Tabere pentru aprofundarea relatiei maestru-discipol”) are organized.
Due to this, yogis attempt to find a hidden spiritual meaning in anything that is inexplicable in Bivolaru’s behavior. Many times, actions which may be perceived as abusive are thought to „burn the karma” of the abused, thus bringing them closer to enlightenment and allowing them to gain a higher understanding (it is thought that to burn one’s karma, or the destiny that one is compelled to live through due to actions in previous lifetimes, leads to one’s enlightenment). An anonymous author says in an article of the official MISA yogis’ blog, which illustrates this point: „I have heard many nice stories about Grieg, too (Gregorian Bivolaru). I have been told that he reacts differently, according to person. He is nice to those lacking self-confidence, those who are weaker… to those who proudly gaze around, he is a storm. It’s said that a very untidy man, who lived in an ashram, once forgot to wash his plate. His girlfriend called Grieg and showed him the „proof”… And Grieg made a huge scandal, so the woman was afraid and apologized to her boyfriend… who, on the other hand, got the point and tidied up his life.” („Despre Maestri”).
The concept of „burning karma” is applied to any difficulty that appears in the yogi’s life. It is also thought that on special occasions, through the grace of the spiritual master, the yogi can burn much more karma than usual (for entire lifetimes). Such occasions can come during spiritual camps, such as the ones organized in May, at Herculane, in August, at Costinesti, on New Year’s Eve, with the theme „The Revelation of the Self” (in which the „self” is man’s spirit, his divine aspect; ultimately, the idea of enlightenment in another form). In the program of the Herculane and Costinesti camp especially there are conferences, held by Bivolaru or other yoga teachers – however, Bivolaru’s conferences are infamous for being late. While he was in the country himself, he would be late for hours at conferences or group meditations, the yogis having to wait either in overcrowded places or outside, at night, in very cold temperatures, for him to arrive. After he left the country, he would send recorded conferences, which would also be late for hours (such as was the case with the conferences on „Romantic Trance”, for which yogis could enter at morning and only get out at night; leaving would imply not being able to return for the rest of the conferences, which were a condition for receiving the initiation which would allow them to enter the state of beneficial romantic trance), but the group meditations would be held on time.
While the willingness to wait in unpleasant conditions for hours in order to hear a conference is of course a matter of personal choice, it is the subtle imposition of the necessity of such an act which can be considered abusive and violent. In fact, there are rarely cases in which the person is actually coerced into doing an action, but they are always convinced that doing what they would otherwise find unpleasant or morally questionable is not only good, but also recommended, or essential. Bivolaru’s insistence on the difference between ‘common people’ and ‘spiritual people’ is not the only black and white distinction that appears in MISA. The ideas of good and evil are taken to the extreme, in which gray areas or complications disappear. He states, for example, that „good never does evil and evil never does good” (The Good News/Vestea cea buna). Therefore, it follows that the course and he himself are good and cannot do evil and what is condemned by MISA is evil. As such, leaving the group and him would be to renounce good and to lose the chance of enlightenment.
MISA places a great importance on sexuality, which is considered the most important energetic resource of human beings, and woman, who is considered to be a manifestation of divine energy, an initiator, a being that is very much prepared for spirituality. Bivolaru argues that women should have a greater weight, saying that
[John] Watson who, as we know, has successfully led the project of the human genome […] affirmed recently in a conference at the University College of London that his research already suggests that extra weight and a harmonious body have certain biological effects that make women to be more malleable and harmonious and, also, this allows them to be more endowed from a sexual-amorous point of view. („Greutatea in plus…”)
This is only partially true. Watson says that fat people, not just women, could be more sexual. Also, his claims were regarded as unsupported by data, racist, sexist and stereotyped. („Nobel Winner’s Theories…”) However, they regarded in MISA as being entirely true and women are pressured to put on extra weight. This is not the only instance of misquoting or attributing ideas to people who did not originally have them in Bivolaru’s writing. For example, in his translation of Mircea Eliade’s article „Introduction Au Tantrisme”, some passages are entirely changed in the favor of Bivolaru’s opinions.
Mircea Eliade says:
Le plaisir que donnent l’alcool, la viande, les femmes, c’est délivrance pour ceux qui savent, péché mortel pour les non-initiés… le yogin goûte les plaisirs des sens pour aider les hommes, et non point par désir… Il traverse toutes les jouissances et aucun mal ne le salit… Il est toujours pur, comme sont les baigneurs de la rivière.
Gregorian Bivolaru translates:
The perfectly controlled pleasures, sublimated as well as possible in divine energies given by senses, love, pleasure and love games with beautiful and affectionate women lead to enlightenment for the man who is capable of controlling himself, being a deadly sin that leads to exhaustion and decadence for the uninitiated who are the slaves of senses and of passions… The free yogi, detached from his senses, fully tastes the pleasures of his senses mostly to help in this way the human beings that need to an impulse through LOVE and not just for his senses. He ACTIVELY crosses, but entirely detached, all the pleasures and sublime joys of love, making his lover happy, before anything else and, because of this, no evil or egotistic attachment sullies him… Even full of love, he is and always remains pure, like the playful and candid boys who are at the riverside. The most intense ecstasy of love that the yogi almost always tries to live emphatically is that of making the loved being as happy and as ecstatic as possible. („Introduction into the Secret Tantrism”/”Introducere in tantrismul secret”, 47)
As we can see, the two texts are quite different. Bivolaru does not mention anything of alcohol or meat, because they come against the MISA beliefs that the two are bad for health, but expands on the sexual side, so that the text would sustain both his ideas and his image of a man who wants to make others, especially women, happy. Bivolaru does a great deal to promote this image and to encourage women to be as sexual and ‘uninhibited’ as possible. Aside from the yoga courses themselves, there are other auxiliary courses, like that of traditional Indian medicine, or Alchemy, and also groups, like belly dancing groups, erotic dancing groups, or ‘shakti’ groups, aimed at women, or ‘vira’ groups, aimed at men. In the case of the groups for women, participants are strongly encouraged to become ideal women from the point of view of MISA: chubby, sexual, uninhibited. Lesbianism is encouraged, even if male homosexuality is regarded as a degrading act. These participants are required, after awhile, to send naked pictures of themselves to Bivolaru (front and semi-profile) so that he could properly „see their auras” and „check on their evolution”.
During the summer yoga camp, an entire building in Costinesti is reserved for the hundreds of female invitees of Bivolaru, who receive free housing and free food for the period they are invited to spend in that location. Men are not allowed to enter the premises, with the exception of guards or those from the technical department. Women are not told in advance, but they are required to take nude pictures both on coming and leaving and to be weighted. They are housed in overcrowded rooms. The bathrooms are common for the entire floor and there are no doors or curtains to showers, so that privacy is impossible. There is a compulsory program that requires invitees to either attend to conferences or watch pornographic films during their stay there. One optional activity, that one must make an oath not to divulge, consists in a women’s sexual orgy. Those who do not wish to participate are asked to leave for the duration of the event.
Also, during the summer yoga camp, the Miss Shakti competition takes place. It is described as a very good opportunity for spiritual evolution. While it is well-known that it is an event centered around eroticism, with the participants engaging in erotic dancers from the very first night of the show, what is less known is that there is both a secret night, on which the participants will have to do an erotic dance entirely nude before a restricted audience and share an erotic fantasy; and a secret trial, which one must take an oath not to divulge, which is the ‘urinary orgasm’ trial. Women are required to masturbate and urinate while filmed on camera, without any audience, the tapes being sent to Bivolaru for judging. They are told that this is entirely normal, even spiritual. Some of these tapes later ended up in pornographic films, without the women’s consent, which caused a scandal. MISA insists that this was a setup done by the authorities („Transcrierea…”).
Other activities that women might be convinced to participate in, with the belief that their actions are spiritual, are erotic video chatting, going as dancers in night clubs to various countries (the most well known of which being Japan), or, in a few cases, starring in pornographic films, which are done to „burn karma”. Also, there is the belief that Bivolaru, being a spiritual master, is also an ideal lover and can initiate women in sexuality-related secrets. Numerous women were invited to sleep with Bivolaru to receive an ‘impulse’, which, as we can remember from the translation of Mircea Eliade’s text, is something that a tantric might do from altruism to help his fellow beings, or sexual initiations. Currently, seeing that Bivolaru is no longer in Romania, women are secretly taken to see him. They swear an oath on their „health and spiritual evolution” not to divulge that there were invited, then they swear another one, not to divulge where they were taken, once they arrive. They are given a list of films (mostly pornographic) to watch. In some cases, they can be kept under a strict curfew and held in severely overcrowded houses. Cecilia Tiz, an ex-MISA instructor, states that many of these women were encouraged to go to him or actually taken there by their lovers („Happy Hour”), which was possible due to the fact that MISA strongly promotes open couples.
This is clearly an abuse of power made possible both by the symbolic violence, which gets those involved to feel that such actions are natural and good, but also by psychological pressure. Thin women are repeatedly told that they are „devitalized” and „must put on more weight”. While watching pornographic films in groups, they are not allowed to comment negatively on the women on screen, being encouraged to observe the positive qualities of the actors – generally, one of the crowd of women will demand that this be done. Submission is obtained through the belief that this is good for them, spiritually, that it will aid them in personal development. Most of those involved in such activities will defend them as such or will deny their involvement, being certain that ‘common people’ cannot understand them properly.
Another type of violence is the resentful verbal violence that can be seen when criticizing either the media, or important members who are seen to have betrayed the movement. An interesting instance of the first occurred at the beginning of 2010, when Pro TV announced that it would choose MISA as a theme for a series of episodes on their show, Happy Hour. On the 7th of February 2010, the movement’s official website said that MISA representatives were invited to participate and share their point of view, but that they had refused the opportunity, claiming that in the past their replies had been edited in such a way as to create a bad view of them („Biroul de Presă MISA a refuzat invitaţia de a participa la o emisiune de divertisment specializată în scandaluri mondene”), thus leaving only the anti-MISA faction represented. On the 9th of February, 2010, the same website declared itself most displeased with the anti-MISA theme of the show and demanded correctness from Pro TV and the right to express their own point of view („Titulatura Freaky Hour (ora ciudăţeniilor) sau Creepy Hour (ora înspăimântătoare) ar fi mult mai potrivită pentru emisiunea de bârfe mondene!”). This reply contains attacks against Pro Tv and Happy Hour, claiming that the show was created with „machiavellian intentions” and a desire to manipulate the public opinion right before one of the MISA lawsuits would take place.
The previous experience with authority and media, especially considering the events of 2004, might explain their reaction in the light of lost faith in these. However, we find that in relation to ‘traitors’ of MISA, the attacks are much clearer and much more violent. The first great attack against a member of MISA took place in 2006, when Monica Ceşa, a well-known yoga instructor, died of cancer. Bivolaru sent a message explaining her situation, which was read at a spiral meditation by Simona Trandafir, another yoga instructor.
I have much compassion for her, but you must know that what happens is also because sometimes she was treacherous and often gossiped about this yoga school and even me. She said „So many people from the course wrote to me about this, that this yoga school is a sect and everybody is brainwashed.” About me she had the nerve to lie and say I beat her, which is absolutely not true. She should be conscious that if she truly wants to be helped by God she must radically change her attitude and to overcome this double-faced state. (Mesaj de la Gregorian Bivolaru despre Monica Cesa)
Soon after this, Bivolaru sent a message about gossip and calumny that would lead to an episode that remains known in yogi circles as the „Letteriad” („Scrisoriada”), in which a great open correspondence started between Gregorian Bivolaru, a number of important instructors who opposed him on several points and a number of people who also had a few words to add in the debate. The letters penned by Bivolaru’s side were read out loud during the weekly yoga courses. Simona Trandafir, who had been a friend of Monica Ceşa’s, was now described as a double-faced traitor, who had fallen at spiritual tests, based on scant evidence. (Letteriad, 14 October) Soon, Liviu Gheorghe, another important yoga instructor, responds through an open letter, pointing out the problems with Bivolaru’s letter. A discussion builds up. Claudiu Trandafir, Simona Trandafir’s former husband and one of the most important people in MISA at the time, eventually joins the discussion, suggesting that a counsel should be created to lead the movement, based on the instructors’ collective votes; he also expresses his desire that there should be no more secrets in the organization and that rigidity of thought and fanaticism should be actively fought against (29 November). Various yogis interfere in the conversation. Marius Monete relevantly says, „[…] how would it be possible for me to become enlightened on this spiritual path, in this school, having Grieg as master, if He can be wrong? What guarantee would I have that HE would grant me the Grace of Enlightenment as some point? […] Through the wrong advice, he might guide me wrongly and then my entire life would go in another direction, even in a malefic one, rather than the one that should come to me, through him, from God.” (15th December).
Finally, in February 2007, a group of instructors, among which Simona Trandafir and Liviu Gheorghe announce that they are leaving MISA because dialogue has become impossible (Claudiu Trandafir would later also resign). Gregorian Bivolaru answers, saying that „when the devil does not manage by himself, he sends a woman”, blaming the circumstance on Simona („Scrisoarea lui Grig catre Liviu”). Immediately after that, he answers to the group letter of resignation from the instructors, trying to stir up a sexual scandal by claiming that Simona had been sleeping with Liviu Gheorghe and Sebastian Maruntelu while she was Claudiu Trandafir’s wife, while she had in fact divorced many years previously and the argument was in any way invalid, considering the powerful support that Bivolaru offered to the idea of open couples. He continues by saying that she is under the influence of demons and that she has dragged the others in a demonic group („Scrisoarea lui Grig catre cursantii din Brasov”). This manipulation of the public opinion caused a wave of open letters from various yogis to be sent their way. Costica C. accuses them repeatedly of being double-faced („Costica C. pt. Liviu, Simona…”), Marius M. calls them „our dear „little saints” with dirty faces”, „moralist, power-hungry wolves in gentle sheep’s clothing”, compares them to the Securitate and addresses them in other injurious ways („Marius M. to Simona and company…”). Eventually, the group would become known as the group of „Ridiculous Conspirators” and, long after the Letteriad was over, they are still being perceived as an enemy of MISA and are actively witch-hunted. For example, in an article published on the official website on the 9th of June 2010, more than three years after the Letteriad and the resignation, an article says:
Unfortunately, both for Claudiu Trandafir and Simona Trandafir, the unfortunate process of initiated regression and spiritual error in which they sink more and more due to exacerbated pride and spiritual blindness is visible in a more and more grave and evident shape, first through the idiocies (awkwardly gilded with a tone that wants to be poetic) which they present as „extraordinary revelations” or „exceptional spiritual experiences”.
The violence against ‘traitors’ does not start and finish with the so-called „Ridiculous Conspirators”, however. Other people, such as Cecilia Tiz, an ex-yoga instructor from Germany, who has started bringing information on the secret activities in MISA to light, are also attacked. An article on Tiz says:
How sad, hysterical and stupid can a person be, if she comes to live only to hate? How much suffering ruins her days and how many nightmares populate her nights? How can such a caricature of a woman raise a child, when all that is within her is poison?! An inquiry of the German social services might find out if she is capable of educating her child and what is the source of her income. If you do not yet believe in demonic possession, this is a convincing example. Actually, there are two possibilities. Either she is possessed by demons, or she is in the service of „earthly forces” – aka, the SRI.
In 2010, Gregorian Bivolaru started organizing „divinely integrated actions” which would „withdraw the charisma” of those who had left MISA. These actions consist in meditations and whether they are functional or not is less relevant than the clear message of hatred against the ‘traitors’.
The yogis can therefore be said to be manipulated, fed on the dream of Bivolaru as a great spiritual master and of MISA as a great spiritual path, leading them to God, their transgressions of moral rules forgiven in the name of the ‘greater good’ and spirituality. They are alienated against the outside world until it becomes virtually impossible to leave for the fear of becoming a ‘common person’, who misses their spiritual evolution and their welfare and who cannot find their place elsewhere. Hurtful double-standards abound, such as the ones that apply for women, who are praised as exceptional and then used, while still convinced that they are doing something wonderful. Independent thought is not encouraged, neither is thinking against the system, creating eventually a dependency on Bivolaru and MISA, which is abusive and clearly violent. Also, we must keep in mind that there are a number of modified texts, like the Mircea Eliade one, which are meant to enhance the belief that MISA has found the truth and the truth only exists in MISA.
It cannot be denied that the violence against yogis also exists, as well as perhaps not unfounded, but exaggerated prejudice against them, but these are used inside the organization as proofs of society’s incapability to understand, lending MISA an aura of martyrdom and increasing the symbolic violence that modifies the yogis’ vision of the world negatively. The values that are induced through peer pressure and psychological violence come to be accepted in time, as the yogis who conform to the rules are repeatedly told that they are doing better than before, or that they are „burning karma” and will eventually be better people.
However, due to the appearance of ‘VIP’ traitors, such as the two Trandafir and Liviu Gheorgje and the coming to light of more and more questionable activities, more and more people started questioning MISA. In reply to this, Bivolaru started two actions: first, a ‘war against gossip and calumny’. In 2008, in the Program for the Yoga Symposium Costinesti 2008, it is asked that those who ‘gossip’ against MISA or Bivolaru be denounced, so that the organization could be ‘cleansed’ of impurities. („IN ATENTIA…”) They are assured that those who speak their doubts clearly in front of everybody will not be punished. Still, a year after that, Bivolaru wrote a message about the dangers of ‘demoniac doubt’, the point of which is to declare any such doubts demoniac. („Cele 17 pericole nebănuite ale îndoielilor demoniace”)
These last actions can be seen as a way in which to violently impose Bivolaru’s rule over the yogis, who are pressured more and more to either adhere to the MISA-accepted views and not speak against the official stance, enhancing more and more the characteristics of a dangerous sect, or to leave the group, which would be, as we have pointed out, very difficult.
1.Andreescu, Gabriel. Reprimarea Miscarii Yoga in Anii ’80. Iasi: Polirom, 2008. Print.
2.Berdeli, Emil. „Nimbul De Erou Anticomunist a Lui Gregorian Bivolaru, Tantricul Lider Al Sectei Porno MISA, N-are Putere Să Strălucească.” Puterea – Cotidian National. 11 Dec. 2010. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .
3.”Biografie.” Yogaesoteric. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .
4.Bivolaru, Gregorian. „Cele 17 Pericole Nebănuite Ale îndoielilor Demoniace.” Yogaesoteric. 4 Dec. 2009. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
5.Bourdieu, Pierre, and Loic Wacquant. „Symbolic Violence.” Violence in War and Peace. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004. Print.
6.Catrina, Nicolae. „Periplul Indian Al Lui Claudiu Trandafir şi Al Simonei Trandafir în India.” Yogaesoteric. 9 July 2010. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
7.”Conventional Couple versus Spiritual Couple.” Yogaesoteric. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .
8.”Despre Maestri.” Web log post. Yoghinii Misa Blog. 1 July 2007. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
9.Eliade, Mircea. „INTRODUCTION AU TANTRISME.” Philosophia Perennis. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
10.”Greutatea în plus şi împlinirea Corporală Armonioasă Aduc Mai Multă Fericire şi Fac Ca Viaţa Amoroasă (sexuală) Să Fie Mai Bună.” Yogaesoteric. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
11.Happy Hour. Pro TV. 08 Feb. 2010. Television.
12.”Introducere în Tantrismul Secret.” Spiritualitatea %u015Fi Limbajele Secrete. Bucuresti: Shambala, 1995. 37-49. Print.
13.Letteriad. Exmisa.ro. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. . Sent as e-mails, read in weekly yoga courses, gathered on the Exmisa forum.
14.Looking for the Truth. Dir. George Adamescu. 2010. DVD.
15.”M E M O R I U Adresat Preşedintelui României Privind Abuzurile Săvârşite împotriva D-lui Gregorian Bivolaru – Aprilie 2005.” Yogaesoteric. Apr. 2005. Web. .
16.Mesaj De La Gregorian Bivolaru Despre Monica Cesa. By Gregorian Bivolaru.
17.”ÎN ATENŢIA TUTUROR PARTICIPANŢILOR LA ACEASTĂ TABĂRĂ DE VACANŢĂ.” Introduction. Programul Simpozionului De Yoga Costinesti 2008. 2008. Print. Can be found online at http://www.exmisa.ro/viewtopic.php?p=17314#p17314
18.Nicola, Maria. „Biroul De Presă MISA a Refuzat Invitaţia De a Participa La O Emisiune De Divertisment Specializată în Scandaluri Mondene.” Yogaesoteric. 7 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
19.”Nobel Winner’s Theories Raise Uproar in Berkeley Geneticist’s Views Strike Many as Racist, Sexist Tom Abate / SF Chronicle 13nov00.” Mindfully.org | Mindfully Green. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
20.Preda, George. „Titulatura Freaky Hour (ora Ciudăţeniilor) Sau Creepy Hour (ora înspăimântătoare) Ar Fi Mult Mai Potrivită Pentru Emisiunea De Bârfe Mondene!” Yogaesoteric. 9 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
21.”Raportul Realizat De Expertul Suedez Karl Erik Nylund Despre MISA şi Gregorian Bivolaru.” Yogaesoteric. Oct. 2005. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .
22.”Transcrierea Primei Discuţii Cu Producătorul Filmelor.” Yogaesoteric. Oct. 2008. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. .
23.Vestea Cea Buna. By Gregorian Bivolaru. Herculane. 6 May 2008. A transcript may be found here: http://www.exmisa.ro/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=19&sid=52431be8f4755e4e8a07416bf2382038&start=30
Due to external events, I have come out of the closet as far as MISA is concerned. There’s nothing to hide anymore (hence the title of the series), so all I write here may be copy-pasted and posted anywhere, with the username mentioned. Permission granted to do everything with these works, except misquote or mistranslate them (aka, don’t change what I’ve said and then say I said it). I won’t blame you if you decide to post hate work against anything written here, but be prepared for retaliations.
Re-submission. Sorry to bother you, watchers! I took this essay down when it got free into the world (as I had intended to do, originally). Interestingly enough, despite my asking that the comments wouldn’t be taken, nor should there be a link back to me, Exmisa posted the comments and my username *sigh*.
Ah, well. Coming out of the closet is probably for the best. And now there’s an entire series, called „Nothing to Hide” about MISA. Find it here: [link]
Original comments (without the ones surrounded by red bullets, asking that the comments shouldn’t be taken):
MISA is an organization that holds yoga courses that I participated to for about 7 years.
I started when I was 14.
The police abuse against MISA happened when I was 16. I participated in the marches against said abuse.
I found out about the porn films later. I may have been about 17 or 18, probably the latter.
I first spent my vacation at the villette when I was 18 and the second and last time when I was 19. Everything that I said happened at the villette I witnessed. Well, more or less. I didn’t participate in the all-female orgy, thanks.
I participated in the Miss Shakti competition when I was 18 and failed after the first evening of the contest. Basically, I danced nearly naked on the stage. It was cool and embarrassing at the time, but that’s not the point. It wasn’t precisely spiritual and while I’m a firm protector of the idea of going crazy, I couldn’t go crazy properly. The idea of everything having to be amazingly erotic was shoved down my throat with the backup that it was supposedly God-directed. >.> Right.
I visited Gregorian Bivolaru, in the conditions described in the essay, when I was 20 and it screwed me up badly. Just read the comments on my BA dissertation for more info. I didn’t sleep with him, but a great number of the girls there did. (funnily enough, I refused to sleep with him so vehemently that he called me sex-obsessed)
I actually was asked if I wanted to go to Japan to be a dancer by Gregorian Bivolaru himself.
I quit their yoga courses after it became obvious that the entire thing was collapsing fast into the domain of Apocalyptic sects, sex obsession and pissing me off. I know some really nice, awesome people still taking their courses, so I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against individuals who are a part of MISA. I have a lot to say against MISA itself, from its system to Gregorian Bivolaru.
I am writing this because, irony of ironies, Gregorian Bivolaru heard that I was a writer and demanded me to write a novella about ‘what happens here’. I’ve no clue what ‘here’ means, but I’ve started writing all sorts of things about ‘what happens’. The novella, called alternately ‘Mindscape’ or The Bloody Novella in my head, is probably going to be called „Parisian Murder” and right now it looks like a short, complicated story on trauma. Still working on it. (Bivolaru’s asylum is supposedly in Sweden. Other info can be found on Exmisa.)
If any MISA people end up here, well, what can I say? You say ‘transfigure all women into goddesses’. I say, ‘yea, but some goddesses are Furies. Doesn’t that scare you?’