In 2001 I was introduced to the phenomenal healer, John of God, at his healing center in Abadiania, Brazil. I was there on a mission: a paraplegic friend of mine wanted to know if John could help relieve his pain. In the next few years my friend did attend John’s center several times and received help.
Like Oprah Winfrey and Wayne Dyer, I was awed by John’s abilities as a phenomenal healer and happy to tell others about it. Like Oprah, what was invisible to me for years was the shadow of John’s personality…that aspect of him that is a very ordinary man was kept secret. Now, John is in prison, has been indicted and is being further investigated by the police for crimes that have been brought forth by the international community. Crimes include rape, fraud, illegal gun ownership, possible tax evasion and more.
Gossip was in the air about John’s inappropriate sexual activities well before the press got the evidence. I had heard enough by 2012 to turn my back on John’s healing center, and walk away. The Brazilian press finally reported evidence they had in December, 2018. Twelve women had stepped forward to tell their stories. Soon after more than 600 women reported being sexually abused by John starting in the 1970s.
The Fork in the Road
What are our choices when our lives have been deeply touched by the positive aspects of being at John’s center in Brazil—and then we see the depths of the shadow? I’ll share what I did in hopes it may help someone else in their journey.
I had witnessed many people in positive transformation by being at John’s spiritual hospital: A woman who passed through a pattern of repeating psychotic episodes to an independent normal life free of the disturbances. A man who recovered fully from stage-4 brain cancer. A man who found a way out of addiction. And many close to death who grew out of fear of passing away and then truly died in peace.
My decision to disengage completely from John’s healing center grew out of my own ethics and a compelling longing for a true spiritual teacher. I wanted to learn from someone who had transcended the grip of his ordinary drives and become fully Self-realized.
Being near the phenomena of John’s healing gifts had expanded my notion of what lies within us, i.e. what a human can do. I was grateful for this learning. However, I didn’t want to lend my energy to someone who was stirring his community with unending gossip about sexual exploits he had had. I was finished with teachers who siphoned off their energy into sexual or worldly exploits.
A True Spiritual Master vs A Phenomenal Healer
I knew there must be a true spiritual master-teacher who had successfully directed ALL his energies to helping others on their evolutionary paths. I wanted someone who had “mastered” his instinctual energies and was one-pointedly dedicated to helping others accomplish Self-realization (true communion with Source, God, All That Is).
My search ended when I found the Self-Realization Fellowship—followers of the direct line of Paramahansa Yogananda. He had brought a scientifically proven way to achieve Self-Realization to the USA from India in 1920. He had written books, including comprehensive lessons to transmit how to accomplish Self-realization. His extensive community was worldwide and his reputation was peerless. He did not ask for people to abandon their heritage or faith—instead he invited everyone to learn meditation techniques to accomplish Self-realization.
I don’t write this to convince you to become a follower of Self-Realization Fellowship. I write because there are peerless spiritual teachers who can help us towards our highest spiritual goals. Yogananda is one. You can find another who suits your unique needs best. Recommended: Get clear about what your unique needs are. That’s the first step in finding what you are looking for!
Discernment is Necessary
It can be an agony of disappointment and disillusionment when someone we have chosen to put on a pedestal falls from grace. We learn we made a mistake. We learn that we must have more discernment.
Students at IMHU often ask me, “How can I cultivate discernment? How can I tell the difference between a true nudge from the universe and one of my own bone-headed ideas?” Discernment is the key.
How do we learn discernment? The only way I know is to meditate; also, to use techniques of meditation that expand intuitive abilities. With discernment, we won’t fall in league with unethical teachers or healers.
I wish you well on your journey. May you find your most perfect teacher and learn true discernment on your path.