Crazy Wisdom, Uncomfortable Questions

The Party

Image result for snowmass vajradhatuIn 1975 during a seminary in Snowmass, Colorado, respected Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of Naropa University, and originator of Shambhala Buddhism, hosted a Halloween party. Two attendees, a couple named William Merwin and Dana Naone, mingled for a bit before retiring early for the night. According to witnesses, Trungpa was irritated that the couple had left early, and he ordered his followers to bring them back to the party “at any cost,” but William and Dana refused to return. According to one witness, negotiations between the guru and the couple went on for a few hours. An angry crowd of partygoers gathered outside their door, threatening them and attempting to break into their room. Tensions escalated until a chair was thrown through the glass balcony door in an attempt to force them out. 

William and Dana were then escorted down to the party by Trungpa’s guards. Their guru reprimanded them, directed racially-charged remarks toward Dana, and threw a glass of sake in William’s face. Then, they were asked to remove their clothes. When they refused, Trungpa ordered the guards to do it for them. They were stripped naked as Dana screamed for help, begging for someone to call the police. No one did. When another attendee tried to intervene, witnesses say that Trungpa punched him in the face. Dana alleged that Trungpa repeatedly hit the man who was stripping her because he was taking too long.

William and Dana were not the first attendees to be stripped that night. A woman named Persis McMillen had been forced out of her costume by the guards earlier in the evening, and was left feeling violated, “sick,” and “really trashed out.” An attendee named Jack Niland had also been targeted by Trungpa. The guards removed his clothes and threw him into a pool. 

Once William and Dana were fully disrobed, the couple held each other, helpless and exposed. William Merwin allegedly implored, “Why us? Why are we the only two people in this room standing here naked in front of you?” So, the other guests removed their clothing, too. At Trungpa’s behest, the dancing resumed, as if nothing had happened.

“Compassion takes many forms.”

William Merwin, Dana Naone, and several witnesses were interviewed about the Halloween stripping incident. Here are some comments from those interviews:

“[All] of a sudden [Trungpa] was a Mahakala, he was a wrathful deity…I really regretted getting so stoned, because I did realize something very powerful and potent was going on.”

Powerful and potent. Seeing two desperate people forcibly stripped naked.

“I’d never heard anyone call [Trungpa] names before. Insults. I’d never heard that—I was shocked.”

What was more shocking? Merwin’s backtalk, or Trungpa’s assault?

“Then Dana was standing there. perfectly pretty girl. no scars. everyone’s wondering, does she have scars or something?”

Of course. Why else would she resist being stripped naked, if not to hide some physical imperfection?

“The next thing after that I remember is that Merwin and Dana are standing together. facing Rinpoche, just completely huddled around each other. (They are nude.) Very beautiful. Adam and Eve…The whole thing, just visually, was very elegant somehow.”

Beautiful. Elegant. Elegant.

“[After the incident, Merwin and Naone] were talking about the invasion of their privacy. And the brutality, and the violence. And they were just appalled…I was trying to say, ‘well, vajrayana teachings were ruthless; compassion takes many forms.’ And they had some rapid fire answer to every statement, which in one way or another defended their sense of ‘self’—their sense of propriety. It was impenetrable.”

Those damn victims and their stubborn, impenetrable senses of self.

“[Merwin] was on the trip that he was perfectly correct in his behavior and Rinpoche blew it, that he was just human. He said ‘Rinpoche really made a fool of himself last night, didn’t he?’ This guy didn’t get it at all.”

I don’t get it, either. I’m sorry. I do not fucking get it.

Even more disturbing are poet Allen Ginsberg’s comments on the incident:

“In the middle of that scene, [for Dana] to yell ‘call the police’—do you realize how vulgar that was? The wisdom of the East being unveiled, and she’s going ‘call the police!’ I mean, shit! Fuck that shit! Strip ‘em naked, break down the door! Anything—symbolically”

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a bit of trouble seeing the “symbolic” spiritual value of a physical assault. I don’t want to see it. I won’t subscribe to a belief system that recontextualizes its leader’s abuse as a subversive teaching or dismisses his victims’ cries for help as ignorance or “vulgarity.” To me, this act of physical violence could only symbolize spiritual violence, in which the seekers’ self-esteem, their egos, are stripped and abused against their will. What can this sort of wrathful spiritual teaching accomplish, besides leaving scars of trauma?

Where these witnesses saw elegance, power, divine wrath, a couple of stubborn egos clashing with the wisdom of their revered leader, I see victim blaming, spiritual bypassing, and a room full of complicit people. I wonder where they are now, and whether they ever think about the incident. Whether they ever considered their own roles in the violence. 

Crazy, huh?

Image result for chogyam trungpaI was a student at Naropa University. Unsurprisingly, this story was left out of all my class discussions about Trungpa’s wild behavior. That he drank excessively, that he married a sixteen-year-old female student at age thirty, and that he had consensual sexual relations with students, I knew. And in hindsight, I’m embarrassed that I overlooked the troubling power dynamics of those intimate relationships. But as far as I can recall, it was never let on that Trungpa had ever displayed violent or overtly abusive behavior, which made his outrageous ways seem benign. As students, we respected his unconventional life and teaching style. After all, Trungpa was widely recognized as a great teacher, one of the primary figures to popularize Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Not only that, but he hailed from a tradition that embraces “crazy wisdom” and sees symptoms of madness as possible signs of spiritual attainment. The Tantric siddhas of ancient Tibet and India behaved in transgressive ways because they had transcended the dualism of worldly values, of right and wrong. They were perceived as mad by the world because the world was truly insane. And Chogyam Trungpa was following in their footsteps.

When I first learned about the concept of crazy wisdom, I was still a follower of Teal Swan. I immediately noticed that she resembled a Tantric siddha in some ways—she exhibited controversial behavior, contradicted herself, and transgressed spiritual norms by addressing taboo subjects and embracing the darker, messier aspects of life. That was what drew me to her, and my learned tolerance to her “quirks”—her grandiosity, her victim mentality, and a hundred other red flags I overlooked—clouded my judgement. Behaviors that would normally have been considered warning signs earned her praise for her authenticity and transparency, or were reframed as signs of wisdom. She said that she was a “spiritual revolutionary” and I believed her. She was different. Unlike other gurus, she refused to conceal her own flaws, her humanity. So, sometimes, she was confusing. That was all part of the teaching. Chogyam Trungpa’s followers rationalized his actions at the Halloween party in ways that closely mirrored some of my own excuses for Teal Swan’s imperfections.

Contemplating Trungpa’s violent behavior within the context of the “crazy wisdom” tradition, I find myself in the same position I was in last year, facing the unsettling realization that Teal Swan’s “authenticity movement” was, ironically, nothing more than a “get out of jail free” card for her dishonesty. I can see how my faith in crazy wisdom (or, at least, some warped version of it) once impaired my decision making and made me susceptible to cult-like manipulation tactics. Now, since learning about the incident in Snowmass, I find myself wondering how crazy wisdom could be compatible with discernment and rational, critical thought at all. 

When the goal is to break through the conditioned mind, moral codes and socially enforced concepts of acceptable behavior are seen as attachments to be released. They may even be reduced to obstacles on the spiritual path. Naturally, this is reflected in the behavior of crazy wisdom gurus, which traditionally appears erratic, amoral, even vulgar, to outsiders. But how can we distinguish wisdom from nonsense and tough love from abuse within this framework? We surrender our preconceptions of right and wrong, and only the guru has the authority to correct our understanding. And that is an enormous amount of trust to place in a fallible, human being. The very definition of “right” expands to include everything the guru does.

When Tilopa slapped Naropa in the face with his shoe, the disciple’s mind was liberated. One Zen story tells of a master who slammed the door on an aspiring monk’s leg, breaking his bone and bringing him to enlightenment simultaneously. In another tale, the legendary 500 year old saint Mahavatar Babaji demanded that an aspiring disciple prove his commitment by jumping off of a cliff. He jumped, and the saint brought him back to life and accepted him as his student.

I don’t know what to make of these stories anymore.

“He was being so physically brutal…”

A part of me wants to find a way to distinguish Trungpa’s actions from true spiritual abuse. I want this to be different. Of course I do. I got my degree at his school, and it was a wonderful experience. Becoming disillusioned with a respected teacher can be earth-shattering, and I would hate write anything that might hurt any of my friends, teachers, or fellow community members. I feel the need to say that, judging by my short time at Naropa, I’m confident that the amount of people Chogyam Trungpa has uplifted and inspired far outnumbers the people he has hurt. Though I never felt a deep resonance with his teachings, I know that they have changed many, many lives for the better.

That doesn’t change my deep discomfort with Trungpa’s conduct. Personally, if it ever came to my attention that someone in my life had forcibly stripped off an innocent person’s clothes in front of a crowd, verbally abused and humiliated them, and punched anyone who got in the way, I would sever ties with them immediately. I wouldn’t be able to trust this person as a friend, let alone as a leader. Maybe it’s just me.

Image result for snowmass vajradhatuWhen I first learned of this incident, I was reminded of David Miscavige’s physical assaults on his staff and Sogyal Rinpoche’s violent tendencies, the only saving grace being that the Halloween party stripping debacle seemed to be an isolated incident. But one former follower, quoted in Stripping the Gurus by Geoffrey D. Falk, says, ”It is a typical incident, it is not an isolated example. At every seminary, as far as I know, there was a confrontation involving violence.”

Falk also quotes Stephen Butterfield, former student of Trungpa and author of The Double Mirror: A Skeptical Journey into Buddhist Tantra:

We were admonished … not to talk about our practice. “May I shrivel up instantly and rot,” we vowed, “if I ever discuss these teachings with anyone who has not been initiated into them by a qualified master.” As if this were not enough, Trungpa told us that if we ever tried to leave the Vajrayana, we would suffer unbearable, subtle, continuous anguish, and disasters would pursue us like furies….

To be part of Trungpa’s inner circle, you had to take a vow never to reveal or even discuss some of the things he did. This personal secrecy is common with gurus, especially in Vajrayana Buddhism. It is also common in the dysfunctional family systems of alcoholics and sexual abusers. This inner circle secrecy puts up an almost insurmountable barrier to a healthy skeptical mind….

[T]he vow of silence means that you cannot get near him until you have already given up your own perception of enlightenment and committed yourself to his.

Reading this, I can’t help but wonder how many similar incidents have been swept under the rug. Frighteningly, the dynamic Butterfield describes here is straight out of Rick Ross’s cult warning signs. This passage also strikes at the root of my confusion as a once-passionate but now deeply disillusioned spiritual seeker. The sort of extreme secrecy demanded by Trungpa is common in his tradition. And it could be used to protect the most sacred spiritual secrets, or to conceal the worst misconduct. At best, submission to the wisdom and authority of a spiritual teacher is the key to self-realization. At worst, it’s the beginning of years of abuse. How can seekers safely navigate such risky terrain? 

There’s another troubling quote from the Halloween party witness accounts that leads me to suspect that the stripping of Merwin and Naone wasn’t just an isolated boundary violation. Here, party attendee Barbara Meier describes an encounter she had with Trungpa at the party before the stripping incident took place:

I had a whole interchange with Rinpoche. I can’t remember the order. I think it must have happened before…he called me up to him. He saw me, and…we got into this whole thing. He was picking up on my costume. The whole aggression. (She was in costume as a biker.) We started sort of like making out. I mean it was very lavish, and all these people were dancing, and sitting around (laughs), and we just started doing this whole thing. And he was being so brutal. He was being so physically brutal, and like, clawing my arm, and just, biting my lip, just so vicious. And then he did this whole thing with my check (bit into the skin, leaving tooth marks), and I was in this state of mind—well, if that’s what he wants, that’s what I’ll give him too. And I just came back with it. And we’re in this intense, you know very tense….somebody else came up or something and I managed to get away. But it was very nonverbal, direct, powerful, intense brutal communication. I didn’t know what to make of it all. 

That Trungpa had a sexual encounter with a student in the middle of a crowded room isn’t particularly surprising. What really strikes me about this quote is the violence that Trungpa allegedly inflicted on her, and the cognitive dissonance I can sense in her words. She describes the encounter as consensual and says that she willingly reciprocated his intensity. But when she says that she “managed to get away,” and that she “didn’t know what to make of it all,” it’s clear that she also felt some confusion and discomfort. Given Trungpa’s power over her, would she have had the freedom to stop him? If she had had a choice, would she have let him leave toothmarks on her cheek? This was just an afterthought to the stripping scandal, only mentioned once. Does that mean this sort of conduct was considered normal?

Wisdom Does not Manifest as Abuse

Eschewing conventional moral standards, I nodded in agreement as I watched Teal bully her followers, partners, and friends. I continued to support her without a thought, the same way millions of people voted enthusiastically for Donald Trump after watching him mock a disabled reporter, insult prisoners of war and families of fallen soldiers, brag about sexual assault, hurl racist attacks at immigrants, etc., etc., etc. We abandon our normal sense of right and wrong when, in our desperate search for meaning, we feel that we have finally stumbled upon something better, something more pure and more right than society’s concept of morality. Seeing the pain and dysfunction and hypocrisy that permeates the dominant culture, we reject the norms that were prescribed to us, looking instead to some charismatic leader with the confidence and power to assign us a new truth. When controversy arises, it merely reinforces our faith in the beloved guru—They’re different, they’re ahead of their time, and most people just don’t understand them yet. We praise them for their fearless authenticity.

But here’s the thing. By turning a blind eye to the abuses of these leaders (or worse, reframing their abuses as virtues) we are allowing the patterns of oppression and subjugation that plague society as a whole—most likely, the very patterns that caused our disillusionment in the first place—to replicate within the spiritual world.

I don’t know how to feel about Chogyam Trungpa anymore. I don’t know whether I will ever feel comfortable looking up to anyone as a personal guru or spiritual leader again. But it’s okay that I don’t have all the answers right now. I just hope that, through my mistakes, and through these experiences of disappointment and disillusionment, I’ve gained the wisdom to recognize abuse when I see it, and to use my voice to uplift victims who need support in the face of spiritual bypassing, gaslighting, and denial.

As an unenlightened human entrapped by the so-called illusions of separation and dualism, my moral compass is all I have to help me determine what is good and true in this world. So, I reject the idea that greatness ever disguises itself as abuse.

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Truth Tribe’s Questions for Teal

*Updated with a statement from Michael Brown! See bottom of page.*

I was recently contacted by Blake, Teal Swan’s right-hand man. He and Teal were planning to make a video addressing some of the allegations against her, he said, and he was wondering if I would consult with Truth Tribe and put together a list of questions we’d like to have answered.

Here is the full list of questions. I’m told that the video will only be about 15 minutes long, so there may not be time to answer a them all. Still, I’m very excited to see how they respond!


Your Past

At the beginning of your career, Blake posed as a journalist and wrote an article about you under a false identity. Can you explain why this decision was made?

You say that you rejected your extrasensory abilities after escaping the cult and that you only reclaimed your spirituality at age 25, but before age 25 you mentioned becoming a medium, being a Wiccan high priestess, and being a trained energy healer. How did your spiritual journey really unfold in your early adulthood?

Your old website said that you had lived in/traveled to New Zealand, Fiji, Rarotonga, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Mexico, and Tahiti by 2005. How many of these countries did you actually live in?

You have mentioned that you were once a professional high fashion model. You have also claimed that you posed for Playboy. Are there any photos? What agency were you signed to?

You say that you were once sewn into a corpse for hours as a child. According to medical professionals, this is impossible. Can you explain this?

Mental Health and the Completion Process

You were recently cited and fined by the state of Utah for practicing therapy without a license. How will this affect your trained Completion Process facilitators? How will you prevent issues like this going forward?

What protocol do you have in place to help suicidal people in Teal Tribe? Do you still believe that “there is nothing that any healer could do for that type of vibration” when it comes to people with suicidal thoughts who feel hopeless?

Personal Relationships

In a blog post, Ale claimed that you pressured him to have kambo administered through burns to his forehead, but subsequent photos show no marks or scars. What really happened, and how do you justify coercing someone into having their face burned?

Last year, you posted an email from your ex-husband in Teal Tribe. In a later blog post, Ale edited this email from your ex to make it look like he was friends with a hit man and that your life was being threatened. We have screenshots of both of these posts and can prove that the information was changed. There have also been rumors that you have accused Ale’s ex-wife of hiring a hit man to kill you. Can you explain these claims?

It has recently come to light that Jordan Duchnycz coerced a former friend of yours named Tori into sex and later confessed to raping her. Did you recently remove Jordan’s animation from the intro to your Ask Teal videos because of this controversy? Do you plan on removing your frequency paintings on the Spirit Science website? Will you stop associating with Jordan and/or Spirit Science?

As a survivor yourself, how do you feel about Blake’s perspective that Tori wasn’t really raped, and that the assault was due to her “poor boundaries”? (In 2011, you wrote, “Individuals who come out with the truth about the abusive atrocities they have suffered run the risk of being discredited by a waiting society, who does not want to admit such things go on…Support from society for a victim of abuse alleviates much of the impact of the abuse whereas opposition in the form of discouragement, judgment, hostility or disbelief can compound the damage of the impact of the abuse catastrophically.”)

Other

You say you were hired to address the UN about the refugee crisis, and you went on to say that “the Syrian refugees are not refugees” A witness says that your talk at the UN was on a different subject. Is there any record of your official UN speech on this crisis, or any staff/attendees who can verify that it happened? Have your views on the crisis changed?

In your frequency paintings, you have used symbols from the Necronomicon, Fullmetal Alchemist, and the Reiki healing method. Can you explain why those modern symbols appear in the vibrations that you depict? Do you think you would be able to replicate one of your paintings just by meditating on the vibration, without looking at the original?


Update: Teal “Answers to the Allegations;” Michael Brown Answers Back

Nearly three months later, Teal has released this video addressing her “haters'” concerns. Sort of. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t answer our questions. She did, however, compare herself to Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Einstein, and Tesla. See for yourself.

I was especially curious to see how Teal would explain her undeniable, well-documented plagiarism. Conveniently ignoring the countless instances of lazy copy-and-pasting that litter her blogs and articles, she zeroed in on the controversy over the originality of her Completion Process, saying:

They went to Michael Brown, who’s the creator of the Presence Process, so they reached out to him and they said ‘She’s stolen this process!’ And they got him all up in arms, and then he looked into it and there was nothing there, and he’s like ‘Oh, great.’ So he and I had a conversation and he’s like, ‘Yeah, all these yapping dogs basically called me and said that you stole this process and it’s nothing like my process and so, sorry that you’re going through such stuff,’ and we had a nice conversation. But, yet again, no claim. Because why? Because the Completion Process and the Presence Process have nothing in common except for the fact that they both promote the concept of sitting with emotions instead of escaping from emotions, and the concept that triggers…are remnants of the past. That’s the only thing they have in common. Yet, here we go with slander again.

So, according to Teal, Brown agrees that the two processes are completely different. They had a lovely conversation and are on great terms.

This statement from Michael Brown paints a very different picture.

mbstatement

“When Teal Swan’s management first contacted me, asking if we could engage on some level about the commonality of our work, or some other pretext like that, I brushed them off. I said something like ‘when people do explorations into themselves they likely find the same things…blah, blah, blah.’ When readers told me Teal Swan is plagiarizing The Presence Process, I wasn’t really interested. I do recall comparing such mutterings to, ‘yapping dogs.’ I apologize for that now. My initial flippant response is because I have heard exact sentences, verbatim from my own two books, come out of the mouths of many known New Age ‘teachers,’ and even celebrities like Jim Carey, Oprah and Ellen. Even my own friends do it to me, not realizing they are talking my book back at me. This is because The Presence Process is full of perceptual catch-phrases I created in the 90′ to communicate the intricacies of emotional processing, which have now become meaningless New Age memes. People love to use them to impress, especially when they have no experiential clue what they really imply. Some of these catch-phrases now appear on fridge magnets in New Age homes, always ascribed to some fake guru, like Teal Swan. The word ‘integration’, for example, was only used in the context of the business community before I added it to the vocabulary of emotional processing in the early 90’s. So I take people plagiarizing my work with a pinch of salt. However, Teal Swan does take it to a whole new level. Since my one and only interaction with Teal Swan, last year if I recall, Namaste Publishing Inc. has been contacted about this matter by others and did pass their documentation on to their legal advisers. I would encourage readers to contact them again if this matter concerns you. [Attention: Constance Kellough http://www.namastepublishing.com] I have not read Teal Swan’s recent book, or any of her writings, other than excerpts sent to me by concerned readers. So beyond what has been shown to me, I have no idea to what extent she copies anything by anybody. But I have seen her videos on you tube. Teal Swan is everything I hoped the writing of The Presence Process would protect people from. I guess I failed a bit here!!! As long as people confuse ‘taking their power’ with ‘following another despite their obvious inconsistencies’, the Teal Swans of the world will be here to rake in the cash and leave a wake of confusion and disappointment. The Presence Process is delicate, personal, self-facilitation, written in context and with extreme care. People using any part of it to gain followers are naive, reckless, irresponsible and ignorant. Or otherwise they are just power-hungry psychopathic narcissists.”

Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process and Alchemy Of The Heart.

Teal, is this slander, too?

Actually…don’t answer that.

A Teal Swan Masterpost: The Spiritual Catalyst Exposed

Her Past

Teal either lied about traveling to and living in eight different countries by the age of 20, or she lied about enduring 13 years of ritual abuse. (Or she lied about both.) In the bio on Teal’s old website from early 2005, she claims to have lived in or travelled to New Zealand, Fiji, Rarotonga, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Mexico, and Tahiti. Teal now alleges that she escaped from her abuser at age 19, just over one year before her website was launched. She has made no mention of these trips since becoming a spiritual teacher. (Correction: Teal’s official bio states, “Modelling [sic] trips were the only trips [Teal’s abuser] condoned Teal taking because she would pay him if she made any money at it.” However, she has not mentioned living in any of the specific locations listed above, and the idea that she took frequent breaks from severe satanic abuse in order to travel the world strains credulity.)

In 2011, Teal’s associate Blake Dyer assumed false identities to promote Teal online. He posed as a journalist named “Jason Freedman” to write this article about Teal and this letter to the editor of the Herald Journal. He appears to have posted under other pseudonyms, too, as you can see here. (For proof that Freedman is 13606841_1752610525022230_7710823449028952611_nactually Blake, go here and search “Jason Freedman.”)

In 2004, Teal wrote a loving letter full of sensitive, personal information to the man she would later accuse of abuse. In this letter, she told her alleged abuser that she loved and missed him, and provided him with her phone number, her PO Box, the city and neighborhood in which she was living, and the color of her house. (Search page for “the letter.”)

In that letter, Teal also lied that she would soon be appearing in Playboy (a claim that also appears here), and that she had finished fourth in a national skiing competition. Both of these claims are false. (Search for “iplayboy” and “fifth.”)

Teal’s abuse claims contain misinformation about the Mormon religion. According to Teal, she was targeted by a Mormon cult as a child because she was exhibiting psychic and healing abilities. She claims that these skills were perceived as gifts of priesthood,  which, according to the Mormon faith, should only be exhibited by men. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, this is untrue.

Teal says that she distanced herself from spirituality as much as possible after escaping from her abuser and throughout her athletic career, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Her US Telemark Ski Association profile from 2006 states that she was a Wiccan high priestess and was training to be a Quantum Touch practitioner. In the “About Teal” section of her old website (2005), she lists Wicca and qigong among her personal interests. In the aforementioned letter, Teal mentions having sessions with psychics, studying color therapy, planning to attend the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and perceiving nonphysical entities.

Teal stated that, by interviewing her alleged abuser, Ethics and the Modern Guru had “ruined” her case against him, because their actions would have alerted him to the investigation. This makes absolutely no sense, as Teal has been discussing the case publicly for five years. Here is her exact comment from a May 2016 interview: “[B]y becoming really famous, I’ve developed a bunch of hate groups and they discovered the true identity of my abuser. So, they went behind my back and they did an interview with him. And so now, he knows all of what’s going on and…what he will have done is warned everybody to hide the evidence. So…the chief of police who’s in charge of the case is furious right now because it’s14045871_1771646343118648_6886369165838251090_n a ruined case, basically.” 

Ethics and the Modern Guru gave Teal and Blake an opportunity to share their side of the story by answering some questions for the publication. They did not cooperate. (Search page for “squandered.”) Their conversation with Blake can be read here (search “interview with Blake Dyer”).

Teal was the patient of a therapist who implanted false memories of Satanic ritual abuse into the mind of her sister-in-law. Barbara Snow went on voluntary probation to avoid the charges of unprofessional conduct. Proof of Teal’s association with Snow exists only in private communications, which can’t be published, but I have personally seen confirmation.

Teal claimed that, during her youth, part of her role as a cult member was to torture other children. During her Portland workshop Teal said, “Okay, so, in my childhood…[in] the cult that I was a part of, they put me in charge of mentally programming children. So I was the one that would bring them in, hook them up to electrodes, and torture them. That was my introduction to the subconscious mind.” (The comment appears at 54:30 in this video.)

Teal appears to have broken the law by putting false information on her driver’s license. In the trailer of her documentary, Blake states that the address on Teal’s license is actually the address of a police station. This is illegal. No exceptions. The trailer has since been set to private on Youtube. (Page search “driver.”)

In this blog, Teal falsely claims that she was taken by her abuser to a Blackfoot reservation in southern Idaho to participate in a peyote ceremony at age eight. There are no Blackfoot reservations in southern Idaho, most sources (though not all) agree that the Blackfoot tribe do not use peyote, and it is highly doubtful that the community would have allowed a random child to illegally partake in the ritual.

Her Teachings

Teal has plagiarized many authors. The list includes psychologist and author John Welwood, Robert Agustus Masters, the website of SOAS University of London, Dr. Joel Isaacs, an article on Recoveryranch.com, Mayo Clinic’s website, a Collective-Evolution writer named Vanessa Petronelli, Wikipedia, and the show Fullmetal Alchemist.

Teal has also plagiarized Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process and Alchemy of the Heart. The post Teal wrote defending herself against these accusations is full of half-truths and misinformation. For example, compare her vague summary of Week 9 of TPP to the section in this post titled “Core Negative Patterns.”

The section titled “Mining for Gold” in Teal’s book Shadows Before Dawn was taken from this blog post by Steve Pavlina. This is an excerpt from Pavlina’s post, and this is from Teal’s book.

It also appears that she plagiarized Abraham-Hicks, and she lied that she had never heard of their work before she began her career as a spiritual teacher. This post by “Jason Freedman” (Blake Dyer) reveals that he was aware of the similarities between their teachings all along, and even used those similarities as an opportunity to promote Teal. During her stay with Teal, Cameron discovered that she and Blake owned a set of Abraham-Hicks DVDs. (Search page for “Abraham.”)

She says that she was born “endowed with objective universal truth.” The claim appears here.

Teal’s attitude toward suicide is dangerous. Teal advised both her ex-boyfriend (known as “Fallon”) and former community member Cameron Clark to consider killing themselves. Tragically, 14034801_1769462666670349_7258762496387048474_none of Teal’s clients committed suicide in 2012. Teal later referred to the incident as “interesting.” Posts by people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation are common in Teal’s Facebook group, Teal Tribe. Despite this, it took Teal until January of 2016 to make this video and share a suicide hotline number.

Teal uses methods that have been proven to lead to false memories and confabulation. While guiding people through her processes and counseling them on stage during workshops, she has been recorded asking leading questions, using persuasive language, telling subjects how they feel and what they are perceiving, and attempting to convince them that they have repressed traumatic memories that must be recovered using her techniques. Here, she states that people “often need a bit of coaxing” from their therapists in order to recover repressed memories.

Teal has demonstrated that she is willing to cause emotional and psychological distress in her followers to advance her own agenda. Here, she instructs her viewers to relive the greatest trauma from their past in vivid detail. She then instructs them to imagine her denying that the traumatic events had never happened to them, saying, “Do you feel like you’re going crazy yet?” This comment left below the video demonstrates how cruel and psychologically damaging the exercise is.

Teal admitted that the Completion Process can lead to self-harm and suicide. The statement was made during this August 2016 webinar.

She has predicted her own assassination. In this September 2016 interview, Teal said that she was “a match to a very gruesome public murder in every single one” of her life paths.

Teal lied that she was hired to speak at the UN about the refugee crisis. In a series of comments on her Facebook page in December 2015, Teal insisted that “the Syrian refugees are not refugees.” She went on to say that she had been hired to address the UN on the subject, which was untrue.

Her Personal Life

In 2013, Teal verbally abused Cameron Clark on an episode of Shadow House. Cameron left the community and went on to share her full story.

Teal diagnosed Fallon, her then-boyfriend, as a psychopath, and announced it to her followers on Shadow House and on her blog. She publicly shamed him and made him confess all of his supposed wrongdoings to her online community.

Teal lied that she would13782256_1759466731003276_6316016445185799066_n be willing to fight for her “hater’s” right to free speech. In a May 2016 blog post, she stated that she values authenticity so highly she would even defend Cameron Clark’s legal right to criticize her. (Page search “court.”) In September 2016, Cameron received a cease and desist letter for speaking out against Teal. (1, 2, 3.) The lawyer had responded to this Teal Tribe post, and was out of jurisdiction.

According to one workshop attendee, Teal told her volunteers that Ale’s ex-wife had hired a hit man to kill her. 

Teal allegedly pressured Ale to have kambo administered through six burn marks to his face, against his will. In a March 2017 blog post, he wrote, “…I was thinking that the last thing I wanted to do in the world was to have burn marks on my forehead.  Especially seeing as I had an important upcoming business meeting in the US. I started to complain, revolt and state clearly that I did not want to do it. Teal started to experience genuine sadness and she shed a couple of tears…I accepted reluctantly to have Kambo administered to my forehead as I reminded myself that my relationship with her is so much more important than looking good.” Strangely, Ale has no residual scarring from the burns.

Teal lied about the circumstances surrounding the death of her client. In this video, Teal describes how “one of her principal haters,” Cameron, witnessed the immediate aftermath of the suicide of Teal’s client, Leslie. Teal claims that Cameron blamed her for the suicide even after witnessing Teal’s guilt and sadness in the days following her death. But Cameron didn’t meet Teal until the Santa Barbara workshop in April 2013. She moved to Utah a few weeks later. Leslie died on May 20th, 2012, almost a full year before any followers lived with Teal. (According to an actual witness, Teal’s main concern was that the death would hurt her credibility.)

* This post will be updated regularly as new information surfaces. In addition to the lovely folks whose blogs I have already credited in the links above, special thanks goes to the people of Truth Tribe who have helped piece this information together.

An Open Letter to Teal Tribe

Originally posted here on July 24th, 2016.
Yesterday afternoon, I was kicked out of the tribe for voicing my concerns that Teal’s healing methods could lead to False Memory Syndrome, and for linking to this article by Michael James. For those of you who never got a chance to read it, my post is below, followed by a summary of the events leading up to the removal. For those of you who already know what happened, you might want to scroll down a bit.
memories-1
(A side note: A part of me cringes when I read that sentence about the woman being “unstable and delusional.” I wish I had found a gentler, more compassionate way to say that. In fact, I wish I could have made my point without sharing her story at all, but I felt it was too important. But my point is this: She is the victim here. I don’t want to sound accusatory or draw any negative attention to her. It’s about Teal and her methods.) 

memories-2

(If you haven’t watched “How To Heal The Emotional Body,” you can do so here.)

memories-3


I received many thoughtful comments. Naturally, some of you strongly disagreed with me for holding Teal accountable, but every single reply was respectful, and I felt that my words gave way to some wonderful conversations and insights. Knowing that I was bringing up a very controversial and emotionally charged issue, I felt pleasantly surprised and very appreciative of the overall response. Thanks, everyone! 

Yesterday morning, Teal left a few comments below my post. I replied to her soon after. Notice how she refers to Mr. James as a friend. 

teal-reply


I am still not sure how conflicts over the truth or falsehood of abuse memories “ruin” anything, especially when the consequences of such memories and beliefs are so serious. But, anyway. My second reply: 

teal-reply-2

Immediately after I wrote this second comment, I couldn’t view my post anymore. I realized that I had been kicked out of Teal Tribe. Wow. Why? My post was controversial, but I had been kind and polite to everyone. There hadn’t been any arguments. It happened so fast that I don’t know whether Teal even read my replies. 

Later, I found out that she had deleted the thread and made this follow-up post: 

teal-follow-up

Some things to think about…

I found Teal’s post and earlier comments very interesting, and they inspired the following ideas and questions: 

  1. Teal says she wants a constructive conversation. Why did she delete my post and remove me from her group without responding to me? I presented my thoughts to her respectfully, asked a genuine question, and I even thanked her for commenting. How has Teal demonstrated that she truly is “more than willing” to discuss challenging topics? Can you think of specific examples where she has dialogued openly and transparently with outsiders who do not necessarily share her views?
  2. When she replied to me, Teal referred to James as a friend of hers. Minutes later, she called him a hater and insisted that he was bashing her for publicity. What changed her mind? Does Teal’s follow-up post make any sense to you? How is this hateful? It doesn’t seem like James has anything personal against Teal. The article has nothing to do with her, right?
  3. Teal shared her thoughts on regression in general in response to James’ article, but she only dedicated one sentence to the anonymous woman who I believe has False Memory Syndrome. At the end of her fourth comment, Teal insisted that this woman would not be so troubled if she hadn’t been abused. (This statement isn’t visible in my screenshot. Sorry about that. The post was deleted and I was banished before I had a chance fix it.) Why didn’t Teal address this issue more clearly, or defend the role she played in the woman’s memory recoveries?
  4. Teal loves authenticity and strongly resists those who try to “censor” her, even when her words reveal private information about others and portray them in a negative light. She says that her message is never hateful and her intent is never malicious (though, I’m not sure Ale’s ex-wife and the women described here would agree). Was my post hateful or malicious? More importantly, how radical is Teal’s concept of authenticity if she is the only one in Teal Tribe to reap its full benefits? 
  5. Many people who once worked with Teal closely have fallen out with her in recent years. Cameron. Jared (“Fallon”). Sarbdeep. The couple from the Czech Republic. Michael James. (There are probably more that I’m forgetting right now.) Some of them have spoken out publicly and their stories often match. Are they haters? Are they lying?
  6. If we discover that a spiritual teacher’s techniques have caused unintended harm, if we find out that some of their methods are questionable, is it hateful to warn the community and ask for others’ opinions? Do you want to be a part of a community in which you are not allowed to warn other members about risks, danger, or unethical practices if the warning happens to wound the leader’s ego?
  7. Have you ever seen Teal admit to a mistake or offer an apology? 

Finally, I want to offer a quote from Teal’s blog, “Cult or Movement?” This is one of the ways Teal differentiates her group from a cult: 

“Questioning is encouraged; doubt is seen as normal and a healthy part of expansion…A call to discover personal truth. Dissent does not lead to punishment. People are welcomed in the group even if their opinion varies from my own or other members’.” 
Is it true? 
 
Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you will consider these questions. Though I have spoken critically of Teal, I do wish her the best. It saddens me that she is so easily hurt, and that she seems to bring so much drama upon herself. 

I haven’t posted this to complain about the injustice of my removal. I no longer want to be a member of Teal Tribe, though I hope to keep in touch with many of you. I just wanted to document the incident and and share my perspective, to provide some contrast to Teal’s deflection. Many of you won’t agree with me, of course, and that’s okay. 

Be well. 
Have a wonderful day. 
And remember…


Update: Why am I blaming Teal? How serious is the risk of FMS? Who is Barbara Snow? 


I’ve realized that I haven’t backed up my claims about Teal’s methods very thoroughly. A few people who have commented in Teal’s defense seem to think that I’m jumping to conclusions and “slandering” her. For those of you who don’t feel that Teal should be held responsible, I want to say that there is no doubt in my mind that she played a major role in this. The woman I mention in my original post has stated in Teal Tribe that Teal’s advice (“What if I told you there’s a hell of a lot more you don’t remember?”) actually caused her to wonder whether a particular family member had abused her as a child. This post should still be available in the group if anyone doesn’t believe me. I have no doubt that Teal’s words affected her deeply.

We meet with spiritual teachers because we trust their guidance. We believe in their wisdom and power. As followers of Teal, we believe that she is a special soul who has overcome enormous obstacles to find happiness and stability. We believe that she can see our thoughts, our energy, and our futures. Because she tells us that she can. Of course this woman took Teal’s advice seriously. Of course Teal’s words influence her followers. Is it so wrong to expect her to use that influence carefully?

I also feel as though the people who are still defending Teal are underestimating the danger and prevalence of false memories. So, here are some resources:

  • The Problem of Leading Questions explains the risks of asking leading questions to a subject under hypnosis. Teal goes much further than asking leading questions in this video. The woman I refer to in my original post was not in a state of hypnosis or meditation while Teal was giving her advice, but Teal’s guidance was obviously intended to directly influence her conclusions about her past. 
  • Current Scientific Understandings About How False Memories Can Form, from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
  • Making Memories is a documentary on the dangers of Recovered Memory Therapy, a practice that appears to have a lot in common with Teal’s process. 
  • Why Recovered Memory Therapy is Bad Therapy. Some key points that I feel also apply to Teal’s methods: 
    • “Some RMT therapists over-attribute common psychological complaints as signs of forgotten childhood sexual abuse. In their zeal to find memories, these therapists overlook any and all alternative explanations for the patient’s complaints.” 
    • “RMT therapists ignore basic psychological principles that all individuals are suggestible, and that patients in distress seeking psychotherapy are particularly likely to adopt beliefs and biases of their therapist.” 
    • “Many RMT therapists have studied neither basic sciences related to memory, nor the diagnosis of actual diseases of memory. Their knowledge is often based on a single weekend seminar, as opposed to years of formal training in any graduate program they attended to get their licenses.” 
  • Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT) on ReligiousTolerance.org. 
    • “About 15 to 20% of persons with memories recovered via RMT went on to recover memory of ritual abuse and Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA)” 

One therapist named Barbara Snow allegedly implanted false memories of satanic abuse and military testing into the mind of her sister-in-law and persuaded her niece that her father had molested her, in addition to several other forms of unprofessional conduct. If the name Barbara Snow sounds familiar to you, it may be because she has already been mentioned here and here. Because Teal Swan was her patient. The fact that Snow treated Teal has been verified in private conversations, which can’t be published, unfortunately. But I am certain that Snow treated her. And it appears that she may have inspired some of Teal’s techniques.

Thoughts?

Restoring Integrity: Teal and The Presence Process

If you like Teal Swan, you should probably buy these books.

A couple of months ago, a former follower of Teal’s filled me in on an interesting rumor. She had heard that Teal’s Completion Process had been plagiarized from Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process and Alchemy of the Heart. I had been very curious about the true origins of the Completion Process ever since Ma Nithya Swarupapriyanda released a video accusing Teal of plagiarizing her guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda. The dialogue brought on by Swarupapriya’s video led me to discover this post by LaVaughn, which eventually led me to abandon Teal’s teachings. My interest in the source of this technique grew when Teal’s ex-husband, Sarbdeep, also hinted that the process was plagiarized in this blog post. I decided to investigate. I took one glance at Brown’s website and immediately spotted this incredible…synchronicity.

This is the homepage of Brown’s site:

This is from Teal’s article, “Spirituality 3.0“:

This is from Teal’s blog post titled “True or False?“:

And this is one of Teal’s very own quotes:

Knowing that Teal’s video called “How to Heal the Emotional Body” was an introduction to the Completion Process, I decided to compare its contents to Michael Brown’s book. Immediately, I noticed more parallels. The vocabulary and philosophical underpinnings of both spiritual teachers’ work are strikingly similar. Both authors use many of the same words and phrases: “emotional body,” “unconditional presence,” “feeling signature,” “authenticity,” and “integration.” According to Teal and Michael Brown, we must be present with our feelings in order to integrate our unresolved pain from childhood, pain that scarred us in the first seven or eight years of life during our emotional development. Both teachers instruct you to journey back to traumatic events in order to rescue your inner children. If you’re familiar with Teal’s brand of inner child work, this quote from The Presence Process might ring a bell:

“Unless we are prepared to reach back through time and space and rescue our child self by bringing it into the safety of the present moment, where we can give it the unconditional love and attention it is calling for, we as adults will never experience authentic peace.” (177)

Eventually, I realized that Teal’s theft of Brown’s writing wasn’t limited to the Completion Process and “How To Heal The Emotional Body.” In one case, an entire chapter of The Presence Process had been tweaked and repackaged as an “Ask Teal” video. Quotes from Teal’s website and Facebook page, supposedly authored by Teal herself, turned out to be taken directly from Brown’s second book, Alchemy of the Heart. After just a few hours of research, I concluded that the core messages of Teal’s work for the last two or three years were actually taken from Brown’s teachings. Inner child work, shadow work, healing trauma, emotional authenticity, cultivating self-love by accepting our feelings—all of these concepts trace back to Michael Brown’s writing.

Instead of taking the time to find passages that Teal has copied word-for-word, I have only done enough research to confirm that Teal stole her ideas from Brown. The Teal fans among you may be quick to dismiss these similarities as mere coincidences. Please keep in mind that this entire post was compiled using my limited memory of Teal’s teachings and a search engine. I have no doubt that the extent of the plagiarism far surpasses what I have already uncovered. If I had enough time and energy, I could probably take any sentence from The Presence Process and find, at least, a paraphrased version somewhere among Teal’s videos, blogs, or quotes. It’s that bad. Without further ado, here is an overview of the similarities I found between Teal’s material and Michael Brown’s work.

Core Negative Patterns

When I first read through Session Nine of The Presence Process, I knew it seemed oddly familiar to Teal’s video titled “Find Your Negative Imprint, Find Your Life Purpose.” These practices have different goals. Brown’s exercise will help you “restore emotional balance into the quality of [your] life experience,” while Teal’s process promises to help you
understand the very meaning of your existence. However, with the exception of Step 3, which Teal glosses over, and Step 5, which she omits completely, these exercises are nearly identical.

Here is a breakdown of the process in Michael Brown’s book:

  1.  How Does it Always Turn Out?
    “The object of Step One is to access a word or a phrase that describes the common denominator to the way all our intimate relationships have generally ended or soured.” (242)
  2. How Am I Feeling?
    The object of Step Two is to find a word or a phrase that describes the common negative emotional outcome of our failed attempts at intimate relationships. This common emotional signature is the key to uncovering the theme of the way all our intimate relationships end. This theme will be ‘our negative pattern’, and this pattern will be our unconscious definition of love.” (243)
  3. How Do I Share This With My Family?
    “If we can see our negative emotional pattern manifesting in some form in the life experiences of our immediate family, then we know that we are on the right track. The reason for this is that our unconscious definition of love is not something that is exclusive to us. It is something we inherited from our parents and that they inherited from theirs.” (244)
  4. What is the Opposite of My Unconscious Definition?
    “Step four is simple but often challenging. It requires that we now take that one word or phrase that describes our unconscious definition of love and ask ourselves what its opposite is.” (244)
  5. Giving is Receiving.
    “This fifth step calls upon us to give the very thing that we seek to receive.” (246)

Here is a summary of the process in Teal’s video:

  1. “Once we feel our mind quieting, then we survey all of our previous significant relationships, the ones where you really felt like there was love there. Now I want you to think about these relationships going south…Dive into the experience of these relationships beginning to sour, failing, and ending.”
  2. And I want you to ask yourself this question: ‘What did I feel after they ended?’ Notice that no matter the circumstances or who you were with, the feeling is exactly the same…Then [after being present with the emotion for some times] I want you to ask yourself, ‘How do I feel?’”
  3. “Now, with the knowledge of this negative core imprint, I want you to look back consciously at your life. See how it is the most familiar frequency you’ve experienced in this life…”
  4. 
“…and use that to become aware of it’s opposite.” Teal suggests using a thesaurus to “pinpoint the [word] which feels like the opposite vibration of your core imprint. This opposite Vibration is in fact, your Life’s Purpose.”

In-to-me-see and Real-eyes-ation

This is one of Teal’s “original” quotes:

These images are from chapter one of Alchemy of the Heart by Michael Brown:

This is from Teal’s article called “The ‘Please Love Me’ Dynamic“:

This is taken from Donna Baker Church’s review of Alchemy of the Heart, which was featured on Namaste Publishing’s official website until very recently:

I don’t have a copy of Alchemy of the Heart just yet, but this quote from Church’s review is strong evidence that Teal copied her play on the word “intimacy” from Brown’s book.

“Ask Teal” vs. The Presence Process

Breathing

Teal Swan:

Teal tells Blake to close his eyes and “continuously breathe.” She demonstrates. “We want no unnecessary pauses between breaths. This allows our consciousness to come to the present moment.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 14:36)

Michael Brown:

“We begin the Presence Process with “consciously connected breathing,” which “assist[s] us to consistently gather and maintain present moment awareness…” (133)

“We connect our breathing naturally. In other words, we breathe in and out without pausing between our breaths.” (134)

What Distracts Us from the Now

Teal Swan:

This means you can’t ever be in the Present Moment. You can’t ever be fully present with yourself in the here and now, because the past trauma continues to come up again and again in order to reintegrate itself. It’s asking you to become whole.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 7:19)

Michael Brown:

“This Process has repeatedly demonstrated to me that it is our deeply suppressed emotional issues that unconsciously distract us from the present moment of our life experience…In essence, The Presence Process is a pathway that empowers us to release and integrate these emotional blockages.” (8)

What Brings Us Back

Teal Swan:

The alternative is to completely embrace your emotions and your feelings, no matter how painful or uncomfortable they may be. The alternative is to completely be present with and to sit with your emotions. It’s to learn from them—to hear what they want you to hear, to see what they want you to see.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 9:00)

Michael Brown:

“We are being invited to overcome a powerful reactive reflex to instinctively run from our physical, mental, and emotional pain and discomfort. Instead, we are being asked to embrace it with our full attention and with our most compassionate intention, to keep our breathing connected, and to gaze deeply into it. Instead of running from it, we are being encouraged to face it and to willingly seek out its center so that we can open ourselves up to insight.” (168)

Emotional Development 

Teal Swan:

“Oftentimes…the memory happened at such a young age that we did not have our cognitive understanding yet. Our brain was not fully formed. We were in the Emotional Self instead of the Mental Self, because the Mental Self begins to kick in around 8 years old.” Teal explains that “you may not get ‘solid’ images in association with a memory” from so early in life, that you may only have emotions to work with. (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 11:45)

Michael Brown:

Our earliest memories are only available to us as emotional signatures.” (149)

The purely emotional experience that begins for us the moment we leave the womb begins tapering off and in many cases ceases its development when we reach the age of seven…This is why we start our schooling around the age of seven, because this time in our life marks the point at which we exit our emotional body development, our childhood, to place a greater focus on our mental body development.” (42)

Brown’s process teaches “how to metaphorically return to the first Seven-Year Cycle that made up our childhood with an intention of bringing balance by integrating experiences that were first imprinted into our emotional body…” (48)

Reflections

Teal Swan:

Anytime you experience something as upsetting or uncomfortable, it is a triggered memory. You are not, in fact, living anything new in your life. You are experiencing nothing but reflections from your childhood. There is no exceptions to this rule.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 32:27)

Michael Brown:

Whenever anything happens that upsets us emotionally, whether it appears to us as an event or as another person’s behavior, we are seeing a reflection of our pastUnfortunately, there is no exception to this rule.” (148)

Teal Swan:

“…the surface events which cause the conflict in our lives are not just triggers. They are messengers that are enabling us to be conscious of something that is buried and suppressed deeply within us.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 3:47)

Michael Brown:

“…throughout this journey our Inner Presence will set us up (upset us) by deliberately sending outer ‘messengers’ (reflections of our past) to assist us to recall the unintegrated childhood memories that we have long since suppressed. Our Inner Presence does this because the use of reflections (or messengers) is the only way for us to ‘see’ our deeply suppressed past in a way that we can consciously work with it.” (149-150)

Mirrors

Teal Swan:

…it’s the same as trying to change the reflection that’s in the mirror by trying to clean the mirror as much as you can. It doesn’t address the causation of the issue, which is your own pain.” (“Parenting 2.0,” 3:54)

Michael Brown:

We are not going to clean the mirror in an attempt to remove the blemishes from the face of our life experience. We are going to use the mirror, or our experience of the world, as a means to see our blemishes more clearly.” (Brown 68)

Parenting

Teal Swan:

“If you parent in the same way that your parents parented you, which is the way you’ll parent unless you become more conscious, there is no progression of consciousness. It is a state of endedness. The #1 most important thing we can to for our children is to integrate our own emotional childhood pain. If not, we will pass this wound to our children…” (“Parenting 2.0,” 2:27)

Michael Brown:

“…when we have children, unless we have already resolved our own childhood traumas, all our unconscious and unintegrated emotional issues are subsequently imprinted upon them. I told him that until our children are able to integrate what we unconsciously offload upon them, they cannot begin to live their own life experiences. I told him that all troubled children are reflections of their troubled parents.” (307)

Temporary Fixes

Teal Swan:

“When we want to feel better we try to change the surface circumstances of our experience. We end the relationship, we move to a different city, we put ourselves on a diet, we sign up to a gym, we take a medication. But by doing this, and only this, by looking for and taking a physical action to feel better, we can never escape the original conflict for long. It simply resurfaces in the new relationship, in the new city, regardless of how our diet changes, or how much we exercise, or what medication we take. We perpetuate drama in our lives if the changes that we make change the surface symptom of our problems instead of the deep causation of our pain.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 4:03)

Michael Brown:

“‘Getting the message’ changes everything because by doing so we realize that the emotional reactions we feel as a consequence of being triggered have nothing to do with our life as an adult. They are the unintegrated emotions that we have been suppressing for years…They deliberately come to our attention as external circumstances and the behavior of others so that we have the opportunity to see, acknowledge, and integrate them. Until we allow ourselves the opportunity to consciously integrate them, they will diligently keep reoccurring in our adult experience in some form or another—often in a manner that seemingly sets out to sabotage our best intentions.” (161)

Cause and Effect

Teal Swan:

Everything in your life is a byproduct, an effect, of the causality of your childhood trauma.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 15:22)

Michael Brown:

“It is crucial at this point in The Presence Process that we understand that an unbalanced adult experience is ‘an effect’, not a cause of anything. It is crucial that we understand this because it is futile tampering with an effect of anything, as it is only at the point of cause that any real change can be initiated. The only value of our adult symptoms of imbalance is that we can use them as clues to successfully navigate our awareness to their childhood causes.” (177)

Shooting the Messenger

Teal Swan:

“The reason that we are so reactive…is because we are unwilling to fully be with our Emotional Body, to be with our feeling impressions, and to reintegrate them. So don’t shoot the messenger. These experiences…are messengers from our subconscious.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 32:45)

Michael Brown:

As we move through our daily life experience, we are now asked…to watch for ‘the messengers‘: those people or circumstances that push our buttons. DO NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER!” (154)

Healing

Teal Swan:

“The minute you decide that you need to heal something about your emotions, you have now made an enemy of your emotions…The minute you say, “I need to heal,” this implies you have to change or fix something about yourself…” (“How to Heal the Emotional Body,” 8:03)

Michael Brown:

[M]y intention to attempt to heal myself was completely misguided…[T]his natural breathing technique enabled me to integrate that there was a distinct difference between my Self and my experience…I could clearly see that it was my life experience that had become acutely unbalanced and in urgent need of adjusting—not me.” (4)

Trust

Teal Swan:

“The most crucial part of doing this process is to trust the process fully, because that’s to trust Yourself to know what it needs to do to reintegrate (which it does).” (How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 11:35)

Michael Brown:

“In all circumstances we are encouraged to trust the process. No one has ever been hurt by breathing normally and naturally.” (136) (Brown repeats this phrase several times throughout the book.)

Rescuing Our Inner Children

Lastly, I want to share an excerpt from The Presence Process on rescuing the child-self. I could have identified a similar quote of Teal’s to compare with this passage. In fact, I could have found a hundred of them. But anyone remotely familiar with Teal’s recent teachings will see the connection.

DURING OUR JOURNEY through The Presence Process, there have already been and are going to be numerous moments when we feel anything but present. During these moments of distraction, we may feel irritable, anxious, annoyed, or even full of fear, rage, and grief. These are the moments
when we are being called upon to consciously attend to our child self.
These are the moments in which we must strive to remember that the states of imbalance that we are feeling have nothing to do with what is happening right now. They are a call for assistance from a very emotional child-like part of our self that is trapped in a mental concept that we have called “the past”

We find a quiet and comfortable space or wait until we have an opportunity to be alone and undisturbed. We then close our eyes and imagine our adult self (the person we are now) standing in front of our child self. We then mentally picture the child that we once were going through the exact same level of emotional imbalance that we are presently feeling in our adult experience. This seemingly imagined scenario is quite real because the feelings that presently drive us to distraction are really the surfacing of suppressed memories echoing from our childhood experiences. Symptoms are echoes. Phonetically the word “symptom” when spoken out loud can be heard as “some time”. This is what a symptom is: a piece of our unintegrated timeline.

Once we have this imagined scenario in mind, it is then up to us to respond compassionately to our child self as a loving and devoted parent would. We must allow and even encourage our child self in this imagined scenario to express its feelings without any censorship or judgment on our behalf. We must metaphorically take it in our arms and unconditionally love and comfort it. We must do whatever it takes—for heaven’s sake. Through this imagined nurturing of our child self, we automatically activate our inner parent and access a state of being called compassion. As its loving parent, we must ask our child self what happened and why it is feeling troubled? We must confidently and sincerely assure it that we will take care of it from this moment onwards and that we will give it all the unconditional love it deserves. Most of all, we must assure our child self that we lived on well beyond the fear it is experiencing. We must tell it about our adult life and invite it to once again become a conscious participant in what we are experiencing from day to day. In this way, we allow it to escape its imprisonment in this mental concept of “the past” and to enter the very real experience of our present circumstances. (180-1, emphasis added)

The Bigger Picture
As I mentioned, I feel that I’ve only skimmed the surface here. My research wasn’t extensive. I tried to be concise with my writing. And yet, this post is seven pages long. If, somehow, you still aren’t convinced, I invite you to read Michael Brown’s work, listen to his teachings, and decide for yourself.

So, what does this mean? Not only has Teal heavily copied the work of another spiritual teacher, but she has corrupted it in such a way that puts vulnerable people at risk for retraumatization, false memory syndrome, and, by her own admission, “self-injury and, potentially, suicide.” (Skip to 1:49:50 to hear that for yourself.) I wrote “An Open Letter to Teal Tribe” knowing that the Completion Process was a bastardization of another author’s work. For those of you who thought my accusations were unfair, I hope that this post has helped you understand my concern by further demonstrating Teal’s recklessness and irresponsibility.

In chapter one of The Completion Process Teal writes that the technique enables us to “restore our integrity.” Of course, Teal means that we can mend and unify our emotional selves. But I wrote this post because I am interested in restoring a different sort of integrity. If you are a fan of Teal’s, I urge you to support Michael Brown’s work. If you aren’t sure what to think of all this, consider testing out his teachings and learning from him before pre-ordering The Completion Process.

I don’t expect perfection from Teal, or any other person, for that matter. But Teal describes herself as a spiritual leader, an exemplar of authenticity and transparency, a woman who is courageous, honest, and real. I believed in and supported this version of Teal for years, but now I am not so sure that she ever existed. Teal, I want to invite you to prove your courage and authenticity. I want to ask you to explain yourself to the fans who have eagerly pre-ordered your book, the facilitators you’ve trained, and Mr. Brown himself.