On January 1, 2012, Jo Ann and Alan Chinn left our Sangha with no warning, sending one or more emails to all Sangha members they were leaving due to personal reasons which were unstated.
I have heard this has had a ripple effect throughout our Sangha, as people wondered what has happened and have only heard from Jo Ann for her reasons if she is asked.
So, I want to set the record straight.
Jo Ann and Alan joined our Sangha during the middle of 2010, and rapidly took over the task of building an online Satsang from Janet Beier and Chris (Harrison).
Both felt pushed aside because Jo Ann had the time and energy and technological experience to make it happen immediately, and I let her do it. Also, Matthew Brown, who was working on other projects, found she had taken those over too. Again, Jo Ann’s dedication, energy, and full-time focus allowed her to accomplish miracles in a short time.
However, I then learned that Jo Ann was spending many hours every week “working” with our Sangha members as a quasi therapist using Byron Katies’ “The Work,” as well as Levinson’s “The Release Technique,” to help people overcome whatever problems they had, while Alan was doing “energy” work with those who had illness or pain.
I did not know this. Apparently many people in our Sangha thought these were my teachings as Jo Ann was at the center of everything done on the Internet. In fact, our Sangha was as much hers as mine, since she built it and maintained complete control over every aspect.
Then during approximately early January of 2011, I confronted her on her teaching The Work and the Release Technique to our membership as these methods are completely alien to the teachings of Robert Adams and Jean Dunn (Nisargadatta), my two teachers.
Ultimately there was a rupture, which involved another Sangha member, and they left.
I am not organized and I am lazy. I let people run the show who get things done, which alienates the people closest to me, who really come for the teachings. This is my personality defect. I like to let things unfold rather than take charge, therefore it appears others are in charge, and those others are always take-charge personalities who have their own separate agendas from that of spreading Robert’s and Nisargadatta’s teachings.
On December 31, 2011, I heard that Jo Ann was widely touting a book by Peter Dziubian called Consciousness is Everything, telling me and others than in reading it she had made more progress than in many months with me.
In fact, during this time, both Alan and Jo Ann were warning some of my students not to get too close to me for unstated reasons. I heard about this, and thought it was because they did not want others to get close to me who were not also close to them. In fact, Alan stated directly to me that I was too much favoring certain students and he felt left out.
As Joan Burtner said:
“This also explains why Alan turned more and more against me as I got closer to you. He began to make nasty comments to me in front of others. As this was happening I began to feel a sense of coldness from Jo-Ann as well. I wasn't their 'project', couldn't be controlled so it all began to turn nasty.
“Which also explains the often subtle warnings they would give to me about 'not getting too close' to you. This happened often. If they couldn't control whoever got close to you, they found a reason to turn them away or chase them away.
“So, when you began to give them less and less attention and they found out how much time you were spending with me they almost immediately turned me away. But their turning me away didn't make me leave and this was threatening to their need for 'control'. OMG, this is exactly what happened. ”
Joan was not the only person they chased away. They chased away Chris, calling him insane and exuding “dark energies,” Janet, who they deemed as a dangerous manipulator, and even they tried with Mathew Brown, who refused to budge. They also attacked Ruby as having “dark energies,” as well as others. When both Rajiv and I said no one should be excluded from Satsang because of “dark energies,” the Chinns gave in.
I also found out that for months prior to her leaving, Jo Ann had been spending a lot of time with John Grenafege on skype, as well as with many other people in our Sangha discussing Peter’s book. Jo Ann represented John as a “deeply enlightened dear friend,” who had been in hibernation after an awakening he had 3 years ago, and now wanted to come out into the world and teach. Jo Ann never told me why she thought John was deeply enlightened, except that he appeared to favor this book by Dziubian. This I heard from another three other Sangha members just before January 1, and since.
This book they were recommending by Dziubian is pure neo-Advaita, exactly the kind of teaching and philosophy that I had been talking against for over two years, as it presents a totally conceptual view about consciousness, just words and concepts and definitions, such that after people read it, they feel as if they really understand the nature of Consciousness and their own true nature, but they really lack an experience of awakening.
Categorically, you cannot “get” awakening from a book. You get concepts that convince your mind that you know that which cannot be known. As Hui Neng said, “The only truth is that there is no truth; beware even of this truth.” In other words, concepts can never provide an awakening. U.G. Krishnamurti said all concepts have to be shrugged off, and Robert said much the same to me. For Robert, one goes in surrender to the guru to receive teachings, not with a book of concepts about consciousness.
Despite my constant warnings against such teachings, Jo Ann was pushing this book and these teachings within our Sahgha.
I sent an email to Jo Ann on January 1, 2012 stating these kinds of teachings were dangerous because they put concepts before experience, and can delay one’s awakening for a long time. I stated that because of her high visibility in the Sangha, people assume that much of what she is saying is authorized by me, or that she has an elevated understanding because she is at the center of everything in our Sangha.
To which she replied she was not going to stop reading the book, nor stop talking to whomever she wants, when she wants about anything she wants.
Jo Ann writes:
You are reading from the Tiger's Cave, which makes absolutely no sense to me, and telling me how good it is.
But when I find a book that does make a great deal sense to me and is having a profound impact, you quickly discount it as neo-advaitan???
I'll not bother you any more about this book, but I sure as hell am going to keep reading it!
Jo Ann’s inability to understand the teachings in the Tiger’s Cave indicates she had not yet gone deep. Those teachings require a subtle and nuanced understanding, living from the heart and not the head.
In other words, Jo Ann had found teachings she could understand and with which she felt “progress,” as opposed to the teachings I was presenting, which took concepts away, making one more open, vulnerable, and in one’s heart. Jo Ann did not want vulnerability, she wanted something her mind could grasp and which she could teach.
The next day I, and several others, received an email from her saying she was leaving, calling me a liar several times, as well as a manipulator.
After that, a whole bunch of people left without even a note, and I assume either because Jo Ann spread negativity gossip about me, or just because they suffered shock from the sudden break up.
Subsequent to their leaving, I have had people from all over the world tell me Jo Ann had been promoting these teachings, and her “Dear enlightened friend, John Grenafege” in intense Skype sessions lasting many hours, and had been doing so for months. I knew nothing of this.
I have recently heard from three different sources, one in Australia, another on the East Coast of the US, and another in Great Brtiain that the Chinns plan on starting a new satsang with John Grenafege. My speculation, if this is true, is that John will be easier to control. He has no nearby family or loved ones as opposed to many dedicated students who have opposed the Chinns grip on Satsang.
I had let the Chinns become the center of our Sangha rather than the teachings or my own contribution. They interacted with everyone on an intense basis, with far more contact than I had with you. They had their own Satsang within our larger Sangha, and they were even warning people not to get too close to me.
This is my failure in every way. I failed to take more direct control of day to day operations. I failed to spend as much time with my students as the Chinns did. I failed to present the teachings better, and I failed to warn people more about the dangers of reading too many books, especially neo advaita books.
Online Satsangs will return soon if the demand is there for them. Few have contacted me directly that they are wanted or needed. Usually fewer than 15 or 20 people ever showed up for online Satsangs.
I am continuing to work with Rajiv and some other students to establish an ashram. An ashram setting provides for the kind of constant contact an ashram affords, that the synergistic energy for breakthroughs develops.
If anyone is interested in starting something in Los Angeles, please contact me.
Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Great Love,
Below is a review of Dziubian’s book by Joan Burtner. This is included as a warning. This book can convince you that you are awakened and slow real progress of opening your heart; so read it at your own risk. I am taking this step as it appears that the Chinns have told many people in our Sangha about it, and this cannot go unopposed.
About a year ago I read a book by Peter Francis Dziuban, titled Consciousness Is All. The purpose of this writing is not to make a critique of this particular book in any detailed way, but to simply point out the overall conceptual nature of the book; conceptual, meaning that it is heavily laden with definitions and meanings of words and meanings about those words ad Infinitum. It is a theoretical, conceptual masterpiece to be sure.
The purpose of the book, at least from my perspective, is not to invite the reader to ‘look within’ to discover their own nature, experientially, but rather to inform or rather precondition the reader’s mind as to what he or she would find if and when they did look. Even when the reader is directed to notice his or her own experience, the author goes on to postulate the outcome of that investigation. Thus the investigation is already polluted by the mind. And mind, through the power of words has the potential to create certain experiences.
In Silence of the Heart, Robert Adams said this about Consciousness. “Everything is Consciousness – everything. When you ask, ‘What is Consciousness?’ there is no valid answer. When someone asks me to write a book or give a lecture, then I have to explainConsciousness in about fifty different words, and each word has another fifty words to explain that, then those words have another fifty words. So your volume of the book is written. What does it say? “Everything is Consciousness.” I could have written one page. And in the middle of that page I would say, “Everything is Consciousness,’ and the rest would be blank. This is the reason I do not write books, because there is nothing to say. See how confusing it is? You read so many books during the week. Usually you do not remember what you read, and if you do, it’s intellectual. You are using somebody else’s words and not having your own experience.”
And yet, Peter manages to write a 327 page book about what Consciousness is. It’s mental madness, but this is just my opinion. Here is but one tiny example of this mental madness. “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Hint: “Answer not a fool according to his folly.” The real issue is not whether or not such an event occurs. The issue isentirely a matter of identification. The issue is whether the one to whom the question is asked, identifies as Present Consciousness, Infinite Being’s pure Isness – or with finite senses and time, is-not-ness. In Truth, there is no choice; the Absolute Present One being All, leaves no finite time-sense to identify with or as. Who is the only One present, existent, aware, alive? Changelessly Present Consciousness. It completely precludes such a finite time-event of a tree falling, and any questions being asked about it in Reality. To attempt to answer the question on its terms would imply there is time. There isn’t. That’s the answer.”
For a few months after reading this book, there was a sort of intellectual bliss as my mind reveled in its ability to give an explanation about what someone else said about the nature of Consciousness, at least what I could mentally grasp. I took great delight in being able to hold my own amongst my peers as we mentally masturbated as a group. But the intellectual bliss wore off and the deep longing that had been numbed by it resurfaced. There were no life changing experiences to speak of.
I often hear New Agers and Neo-Advaitans speak of how it is easier to awaken now than it ever has been. I cannot say. Maybe it’s easier than ever to ‘imagine’ that one is awakened due to the abundance of material in the spiritual market place that makes such hype out of initial experiences. These initial awakening experiences seem to be redefining freedom as a whole. Robert Adams said, that there was probably never more than a handful of truly liberated beings on the earth at any one time.