File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Clockin' Dollars and Hands Where They Don't Belong
A reader turned us on to a fine piece of investigative journalism about Korean guru Ilchi Lee's Dahn Hak, aka Dahn Yoga in the States, an org that's chock full of the usual culty nastiness in which lives are wrecked while the cash gets clocked:
Shipley, now 25, is one of 27 former Dahn practitioners who filed suit in Arizona in May claiming the group subjected them to psychological manipulation and fraudulently induced them to spend thousands of dollars on Dahn yoga classes and retreats in Sedona, Ariz. and other places. The punishing techniques, they say, included forced isolation from friends and families, exercises like bowing 3,000 times all night long without breaks, disciplining members by sticking their heads in the toilet and making them lick other members' feet, and having them hold certain poses, like the push-up position, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. On top of those charges, the suit alleges that Ilchi Lee, the 57-year-old Korean founder of Dahn and its spiritual leader, sexually preyed on young female disciples.Dahn makes its money the traditional way, squeezing it out of hapless initiates with "money training," ridiculous quackery and straight-up pseudo-science:
Dahn centers sell a variety of products it deems healing-related. Nina Miller, a plaintiff in the Arizona suit, is seeking reimbursement for the $1,800 she spent on a gold painted "Okum turtle"--an item purportedly made from "living metallic materials" that "optimizes harmony within the body." For $450 Dahn sells a kit that includes a Brain Respiration Quotient, a transmitter that uses light and sound to supposedly stimulate the brain, and Power Brains, a brain-shaped handheld vibrator that is said to increase awareness during meditation.And guess where all the money goes:
Testimonials on the company's Web site claim brain wave vibration has lowered high blood pressure, corrected lazy eyes and healed the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. But the company cannot point to any independent peer-reviewed studies vouching for its effectiveness. Brian Cummings, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, says calling it pseudoscience would be generous. "Exercising, stretching and meditating may be beneficial to health. But there is no science behind the claim that vibrations in the body alter brain activity in a meaningful way," says Cummings.
Dahn claims that founder Ilchi Lee is no longer directly involved in the company but instead runs a consulting firm, BR Consulting, which owns the intellectual property used by Dahn Yoga. (Lee is seeking to dismiss the suit against him on this basis as well.) But according to the plaintiffs, Ilchi Lee controls them all. They claim Dahn's profits are transferred to Lee and used to fund a lifestyle that includes a horse ranch in Arizona, high stakes gambling, a yacht and a private jet. forbes confirmed that BR Consulting owns the jet, the horse ranch and some residential properties.In the end, you'll take it in the end for the guru and like it. This is the operating principle of almost every bit-time guru's satsang. Lee is no exception, and apparently, despite all the bad press he's generating in the States, there's still a full, rich market of the disaffected from which he can continue to steal.