David Driscoll’s Letter to Rolling Stone
Dear Will Dana,
I understand that you have the freedom to write whatever you want, but don’t you have any standards of journalism and fair reporting? The article entitled “Yoga Cult” in your February issue was not only severely biased against Dahn Yoga, it was filled with inaccuracies, slander, and outright lies. What kind of fact checking is required by your editorial team? Are you in the business of investigating issues or are you simply a puppet, repeating the story from only one side?
I’m not excited about bashing two former friends, but in your report you repeat word for word the stories from Amy and Ricardo. I’m writing to tell you that those stories are not true.
Amy Shipley and Ricardo Barba were not the victims of any mind-control or subversive indoctrination. They both chose to be active in Dahn Yoga in order to fix problems that already existed in their lives and ultimately to contribute positively to the world. Amy was a recovering drug addict who had self-esteem problems stemming from being abused by family members when she was a child. Amy was intelligent but tricky, and irresponsible. She abused herself and sought the same kind of treatment from others. Ricardo was unfocused and arrogant, failing to show up to work for regular shifts and talking instead of doing anything while on the job. He was involved with many different women at the same time he was supposedly with Amy. Amy was hurt by his cheating and many times she expressed the desire to move on without him.
Amy was the kind of person who would say or do anything to get by. Before Amy or I had even become involved with Dahn Yoga, I happened to share an apartment with her as a temporary roommate in Chicago. At the time Amy was working part-time jobs and deciding what to do with her life. She was dating an older man and getting money from him. At the same time she was seeing another man. She was not doing drugs heavily when I knew her, but she told me about almost dying from an overdose a few years before when she was in high school. At the end of our time as roommates she decided to travel to Central America and she left without paying her rent. I didn’t hear from her for a few years after that, I expected never to see her again.
But then one night she showed up at a Halloween party we were having, dressed as Marilyn Monroe. I was shocked, but pleasantly surprised to see her. We ended up hanging out and she became a regular member at the Dahn Center.
To make a long story short, Amy spoke intelligently and passionately about her desire to become a Dahn master and continued taking trainings. When she started teaching class I could feel the bottled up emotions and self-doubt inside her. But she kept saying “This is what I want, I can do it!” So she kept teaching, taking trainings, taking more responsibility. She would guide other people with such intense passion. Sometimes I wanted to tell her ‘slow down’ but that was Amy, always going 100 mph. And she did well, becoming more confident and sincere, teaching class better, until finally she became a Master instructor.
Being a Dahn Yoga instructor is not the easiest job in the world, but it’s also not the hardest. I would routinely take breaks during the day or on weekends, see friends, go on dates. Amy did too, but she harbored such intense guilt and self-criticism. Guilt and self-criticism are not the kinds of feelings promoted by Dahn Yoga, contrary to what the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit. Those are the kinds of feelings that one may get after being sexually abused by your relatives and verbally abused by your father, as Amy was. Wherever she went, she brought that kind of self-abuse with her.
Suddenly one day I heard that Amy left and went with some obsessive anti-Dahn guy named Andrew. Amy told me all about Andrew before she left, how he was attracted to her, called her, even planned to come take her away, and kept harassing her with stories of Dahn Yoga being a cult. Amy told me that she knew it was all bullshit and he just wanted to have her. But then she left, and soon enough she was saying the same things. I know Ricardo was hurt by Amy’s decision to leave with another man.
I can’t blame Amy too much even though she betrayed those of us who she worked with. I don’t think she ever really understood why she felt so guilty, and if she did it’s long since been obscured by a philosophy of victimization instilled by Lucie Vogel, Steve Hassan and other anti-Dahn organizers. The repeating of her twisted story in your magazine seems downright malicious. I’m not sure what the reporter’s motivation was, but I think your magazine should be more responsible about what actually gets put in print.