Good Lord, John Friend Needs a New Agent /// JF Teams Up With Mark Gafni

Let’s set aside all the “is it wrong to sleep with your teacher?” ho-hum, as well as all that “Boo hoo my business coach/yoga teacher Daddy-fill-in lied to me” crapola and talk about something that’s actually astounding.

The other day a Babarazzi (Ms Recluse) happened upon a talk titled: “Unique Self Dialogue: With John Friend and Marc Gafni.” This same Babarazzi passed along the goods while nearly shitting herself with laughter.


For those who don’t know, Marc Gafni is a spiritual teacher guy who over the years has been maligned by a handful of significant people due to accusations regarding his sleeping around with the lady-folk (and those a bit too young to be dubbed “lady-folk”). Ahem….

“I was a stupid kid and we were in love,” [Gafni] said. “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”

At the time she was fourteen thirteen he was nineteen. Ehh…. almost legit, young buck.

Gafni’s basically one of the major poster boys for “creepy teacher who gazes too long into your eyes (read: ‘soul’),” and is so dastardly he actually had the Israeli po-po on his ass after being accused of sexual misconduct by three women. In truth, there’s so much I could say on the controversies (plural) surrounding this guy regarding his relationship to female comrades, Ken “The Great Reductionist” Wilber, Integral Life, and the rest it would require a book-length work. So I’ll just leave it at that.

But, what’s the deal with John Friend hooking up with him?!?!?

See, Gafni has been through this whole “Whoops, I had sex with the wrong cholita” situation before and knows how to handle allegations of sexual badness. He knows that the first thing you do when ladies are accusing you of sexual abuse is get some other ladies to speak up for you! Better yet, if you still have friends of the fairer sex, perhaps you can quickly throw a workshop together and title it “Integral Journey of Love” or “Sex, Spirit, and Shadow,” like right around the same time a scandal breaks!

  • Scandal: May 2006
  • “Integral Journey of Love” workshop: November 2008 [After taking a two-year speaking break]


  • Scandal: September 2011
  • “Sex, Spirit, Shadow” workshop: September 2011 [No speaking break this time]


Let’s face it. John Friend needs a new agent and someone a bit more versed in the PR department. I mean, the one thing you don’t want to do after you’ve been accused of sexual misconduct and had your entire spiritual empire dismantled by a bunch of wanna-be-famous tag-a-longs is shack up with a guy who’s had to go on record as saying:

“I don’t work with kids, I don’t counsel men or women, and I don’t meet alone with women,” [Gafni] said, anxious to be rid of the old allegations. “How do I make it be over?”

Yes, John Friend did align himself with lady Desi Springer’s “The Roots” yoga system when he came out of the quiet. And, yes, that was a dope move straight from the Gafni handbook. But to then jump into the Gafni camp? Won’t that undo all his not-so-hard work?

Anyway, perhaps you’re wondering how the actual dialogue is. Well, John doesn’t say much. Gafni does most of the talking, which is good, ’cause I can actually deal with a lot of what he says. The man’s been tagging much boom-boom for a reason, seen?

But, seriously, John Friend. Unlike the rest of your sheepy sheep we always knew your were a bit of a dork, what with your mats and hyper “biz” mentality. But, you gotta get it together, man! You’re like a Boston Marathon joke said too soon. Take a break. Grow a beard. The ladies will return.

It always does.


  1. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    You know who doesn’t need a new agent? Sally Kempton, the writer of the “Wisdom” column for Yoga Journal. As the former Swami Durgananda, she was in the inner circle of the sexually scandalized Baba Muktananda. Later in life, she goes on to defend Marc Gafni and of course she was one of JF’s designated teachers under the Anusara School. Of course she is on the same illustrious faculty as Gafni and Friend responsible for this event.

    • Think Again

      Don’t miss her new column in this month’s Yoga Journal, in which she (Sally Kempton) offers sage advice from a distance about how to maintain healthy teacher-student relationships, and warns about charismatic teachers who may not be in private what they appear to be in public!

  2. Personally, I think John Friend is better off getting advice and teaming up with Dan Savage of “Savage Love” fame if he wants a real image redo. At least that would be more entertaining…
    Wilbur endorses Gafni???? Whoa! I never liked Wilbur when he started touting the likes of Francis Fukuyama and having read “Grace and Grit” how he hit his then sick wife and called her a dumb useless bitch. This just seals it.

    • I totally agree about the Dan Savage advice. He could have been like, “Check it. I’m a heterosexual man who loves the yoni. I put a clause in the Anusara bylaws to support this, and all should be good. Get over it!” But instead we have this weak “soft spiritual” approach. Such a let down.

      As for Wilber…. Ech… His followers need to stop shaving their heads. They all got this whack ass five o’clock shadow on the dome! At least Wilber seems to break out the bic.

  3. Wow.

    Good find.

    Also, is this the right moment to pretend you are a woman?

  4. Garuda

    Breaking News……………WATER SEEKS IT”S OWN LEVEL……………..details at 11

  5. Yoga Whelp

    “She was 14 going on 35 and I never forced her.” — Marc Gafni
    “She was 35 going on 14 and I never forced her.” — John Friend

  6. I still think yoga rocks.

    Just read up on Gafni and can not understand why someone would want to be associated with him especially if that person has had similar troubles in the past. As if his market needs another reminder? Gafni sounds like a stone cold predator and Friend seems no different. Very disappointed to hear about Kempton’s lack of discrimination.

    My takeaway is “stay away from gurus and holy people”.

    • “As if his market needs another reminder?”
      “Market” is the key word here. There’s a shitload of money to be made by people’s spiritual yearnings and confusion, lack of direction etc. And it would seem a lot of action to nab as well. And you can get both if the circumstances are right as these two seem to attest.

  7. Yoga Whelp

    I’m kinda hoping that Pee Wee Herman announces that he’s caught the yoga bug, too.

  8. Beanie Boy

    There’s more updates on the pathetic Gafni drama at this blog.
    Sounds True kicked him out. Integral Institute kicked him out. The Jewish world kicked him out. Nobody with any integrity will have anything to do with him, hence him having to settle for téte â tétes with other disgraced predators. Hello, John Friend!

    • Yoga Whelp

      Here’s MG’s video on a “new evolutionary model of teacher-student relationships.” I think you can see the seeds of the problem right here. He says throw out the guru model of a single authoritative source of wisdom, but also throw out its antithesis: that everyone is the same and we don’t need people of “attainment” in our midst.

      The alternative is apparently “dual relationships” in which you can teach and learn even with the very same person. (Or who knows, maybe with a 14 year old, who, after all, could just be the embodiment of Shakti, or your long lost soul mate in an earlier life). MG admits that a “dual relationship” might not be “appropriate” in a therapeutic environment — with all that messy “transference” and all — and yes, it’s consider verboten in the psychology literature. But shucks he really thinks it could work in a spiritual free-for-all setting; as long as the people involved were “mature.”

      Mature enough not to tell their Mommies or call the cops, I guess.

      • voxygen

        This is so bad and so familiar it’s hilarious – let’s set up a false dichotomy and make the two alternatives as unpleasant as possible. Then, invent some bogus “third way” with new jargon that justifies doing whatever you feel like doing, especially if you can hold the seat of the teacher and your student at the same time. And then make it all about the student being “advanced enough” to handle your radical new approach. Why do people still fall for this shit?

      • He reminds me of a used car salesman or my vacuum repair guy. Speaks fast, very glib, quick rationizations, fast sell. I don’t need to read shit from this guy, his body language, gesturing and showcasing tells the whole story.

    • voxygen

      Thank you for that link, BB – I applaud Tami Simon for speaking out.

  9. Yoga Jew

    “At the time she was fourteen he was nineteen.”

    According to the girl’s first person account, she was only thirteen. But who’s keeping track?

  10. the moment already came

    1) John Friend looks like a weird, exploding baby in that pic on the homepage.

    2) Marc has apparently chosen to style his hair in the general shape and demeanor of a penis. Good move, Marc. Well played.

    3) Thinking beyond these two men and their penile exploits, it occurs to me that saying no to a spiritual “leader” seems to be a particularly rough thing for many people to do. And I wonder whether that has to do in part with the notion that a spiritual leader is an alleged conduit to divinity. Moreover, that if you say no to a spiritual leader it can feel like you’re saying no to God.

    Which makes me wonder: why aren’t we allowed to say no to God every once in a while? Would it be easier for folks to say go fuck yourself to these losers if we hadn’t jam-packed the whole damned history of the whole damned world with a mythology that makes a well-placed no in the face of God out to be a real bummer? Where are Prometheus and Lucifer when we need them?

    • Chai Fan

      I’m wondering- can we just ban that John Friend “exploding baby” pic from existence please? I never want to to see it again.

  11. Yoginiwini

    I saw “Dr.” Gafni a while back at some expo or something. Did not understand the appeal AT ALL – his energy was just creepy. Underneath all his manic blathering, I sensed him as being full of shame and desperately needy for attention.

    Then again, anyone who insists on being called “Dr.” who isn’t in the medical field may as well be carrying a sign that says, “This inappropriate title is a lame coverup for my deep insecurity.”

    I hope he gets help for his obvious sex addiction, and that women are smart enough (educate yourselves, people!) to stay far far away.

  12. Holly Epstein

    I would like to suggest to those who are interested in thoughtfully and most accurately discerning what lies at the crux of this issue beneath the usual nonsense about sex (ho hum), do so by reading “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout. “Dr” Gafni is a combination of the three characters. The creepiest one being the guy who doesn’t want his kid and uses him to gain sympathy for himself. This is what Dr. Gafni did with Caplan’s baby. It’s what he did with her too. He picked her as a knee jerk reaction to another woman, who he had used up entirely – sexually and financially, and who he claimed (as part of his grandiose insistence of how others are always out to get him) was ‘another crazy one’ who was trying to ‘bring him down.’ He told many around him that he had made a mistake in picking Caplan, and in getting her pregnant on the second date, as she undiscerningly jumped into bed with him with one thing on her mind that had been on her mind for forty years: BABY. He spoke to many of how he didn’t want to be in the relationship, but said it would look very bad publicly for him if he left before her baby came. So he’d wait it out a year and get her to be the one to leave so it would look like it was her idea, and therefore he’d get to appear to be a great guy, which to narcissists is everything, and maintain an image that he would have stayed had she not left him… So he could pretend that he hadn’t actually been saying from the beginning that he wanted her gone. Otherwise, if he was actually honest with her about the fact that he did not want to be there, he explained to others around him, her feminine shadow might explode and bring down World Spirituality, especially considering all those years of her being disappointed and humiliated by the multitude of Zen boyfriends who couldn’t commit. Besides, just as she desperately wanted a baby from him, he desperately needed a chapter “written” by her so he could use her credibility as his fig leaf to hide behind. The chapter was actually written by Gafni and Kempton, and Mariana ‘put her spin’ on it. By the way, this is how the Catalyst article that Gafni waves around as “proof” of his “innocence” was written as well. He wrote it. Those with their names on it ‘put their spin’ on it as they bought Gafni’s so-called ‘epic battle’ description hook, line, and sinker. (Epic battle… another usefully grandiose mis-representation and distortion of perception used commonly by the sociopath to portray himself as the maligned victim of evildoers as a way of covering over his own evil tracks of abuse and denying any responsibility whatsoever. “I didn’t actually do anything, ever. Not once in my life. I’ve been enlightened since I was born. It’s just that I am such a great figure in history that everyone else is so jealous of my success.” Yeah. Right. That must be it. Thank you, Gafni, for enlightening us all through the distorted prisms of your own uniquely pathological mis-perception identification complexes. How do you stay on top of all of those lies and distortions? I guess if you believe the truth of your lies, it must not be as difficult compared to the rest of us who have something called a conscience, which makes it very hard to lie.

    So Gafni had to stick around to make sure that this plan for playing hide-behind-the-new-woman’s-reputation-in-order-to-make-his-marginally-better-by-association would not backfire in any way – and it most certainly would if she blew up upon finding out he never wanted to be with her in the first place and had been trying to get rid of her all along.

    Gafni lies straight to the faces of anyone he’s talking to when it will allow him to make them believe whatever he needs them to believe, for the sake of his motives and agendas of getting what he wants. He talks in all kinds of beautiful and convincingly emphatic, brilliant language and concepts. And when it comes to words about holiness and conscience and integrity, these are his favorite ones to pontificate upon as cover for the fact that he has none of these in any authentic way, but talks their game so brilliantly as to convince himself and you that his capacity to talk about these things adamantly will fool you into believing that these are genuine in him. And if these are genuine in you, he will be drawn to you as he sucks them out of you for his own benefit. You are now part of feeding his image. Like so many references in his work, Gafni is a vacuous pit of emptiness feeding off of those who can be his narcissistic supply.

    He is now working at Castlewood trauma and treatment center, of all places, painting himself as a some kind of unique self healer. Read about Doreen Littlefield, the psychologist in Stout’s book, and you will get an extremely accurate portrayal of the kind of gaslighting techniques and twisted mind games Dr. Gafni is also fond of playing to manipulate and double bind specially targeted victims, doing so in isolation when no one else is watching, to the point of breaking them psychologically as he then threatens them with blackmail using all the people they know in common against her, while he one by one starts calling them and maliciously fabricates stories about her “craziness”, thereby securing their loyalty and ensuring that as he has said such awful and distorted things, that they will believe him since, after all, he’s a spiritual (abomination of a) teacher, and he couldn’t be lying, could he? The fact is, Yes, he could be lying and probably is. The sad thing is, few of these formerly decent and ethical people – before they met Gafni – would be motivated now, as a result of being in Gafni’s orbit, to talk with other “parties” to find out the truth of their stories. Ironic and not surprising that the “holy Rabbi” who is prone to bouts of fake crying to gain pity, who then swings into rages insistently about the ethical and moral obligation we have of “talking to all sides,” is the one making sure that no one around him will ever, ever talk to anyone who might reveal any side of himself he doesn’t want you to see.

    In the world of the narcissist sociopath, there is only one side: his.

    The sociopath masquerading as a spiritual teacher will make sure that the soul print story of his specially chosen target is destroyed by him. It contains too much evidence of the unique frequency and fingerprint of his sociopathic darkness. As for the infinite dignity and adequacy of her story, he will even scream at her that she is a whore and tell her that no one will ever believe her. Oh, but that’s right…. He is so holy! Yes this is a holy Rabi who goes around blackmailing people everywhere: women, men, even Ken Wilber I have heard.

    But this poor Rabbi, who defames Christ by comparing himself to him and claims that, like him, others are trying to “murder his life force” and bring him down too, uses the grandiosity move and the pity ploy as decoy all at once so that those around him will say, “I’m so sorry you’re going through that, Marc” as he delights in how he’s baited and hooked them using the feigned crisis of the situation he has just invented to ensure that even greater bonds of loyalty are NLP’d into their minds. Such brilliant manipulation, and often committed inside the Holy of Holies itself, even! Ah, yes, for the sociopath, it is all about the love of the game of what they can get away with next. The love of the game is much too fun for him.

    After all the trauma he has caused others, it would certainly be appropriate, and at least the beginnings of attempting to even feign some semblance of maturity and personal responsibility for Gafni to apologize for the abuses he has promulgated and perpetuated.. It would take a very “evolved” teacher to be able to handle it. He’d have to grow up to say, a six-year old’s capacity to say, “I see what I did. It was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

    Don’t hold your breath that Gafni will be able to evolve to this level in this lifetime.

    John Friend would be well advised to stay away from Gafni.

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    • Yoga Whelp

      Thanks for posting this, and for referencing the Stout book, which highlights female sociopaths and spiritual vampires in the “helping” professions.

      The truth is, there are plenty of women out there who are drawn to the Gafnis of the world, and who have their own emotional and sexual snare games to boot. I am always the bad guy for calling women — especially in yoga — out on this score.

      The neo-Victorian brand of feminism that so many still subscribe to demands that we see males as rapacious predatory beasts and females as their delicate, innocent victims. It just ain’t so, not anymore at least. In fact, I would argue that this brand of pseudo-feminism has itself become an ideology of power behind which many females with deep pathologies operate — and try to cover their tracks.

      Gafni, of course, has plenty of adult female partners, including Diane Hamilton, who appears on the poster with him here. Some are enablers, some are into polyamory, some are both and some are just plain predators themselves, Go to You Tube and check out Diane Hamilton’s videos with him. They are quite the pair of narcissistic playmates. It might be cute, if they weren’t both so scary.

      I am the first to make fun of Jumpin’ Johnny Friend’s Tickle-Me-Elmo Club but what’s really appalling is how many of his one-time Anusara proteges and bed mates are still running around, proud heirs to his legacy and still largely out to fill the vacuum left by his departure, and suffering from the same disease. Do I really have to name names?

      In a yoga movement that is now 85%-90% female, still beating up on “Daddy” is no longer just passe — it’s absurd. We need an entirely new paradigm, or simply one that understands that the problem is pathology not gender, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely whatever your genitals look like. You’ve come a long way, baby. Own it.

  13. The P

    ^^Real Housewives of New Age Spirituality County

  14. julia

    Holly –

    Thanks for your comments. I think Gafni’s days are almost over. He has lost all credibility in the Jewish world and has alienated just about everyone in the New Age community as well. His latest book is going nowhere and he tries to make his “Unique Self” idea (recycled “Soul Prints” b.s.) fit along with anyone who will add him as a guest to their seminars – Unique Self and dating, Unique Self and capitalism, etc. – he’s grasping at any straw that will bring him an ounce of recognition. I would feel embarrassed for him except he has earned every bit of public humiliation that comes his way. It appears that his most recent devotee and defender, Joe Perez, whom he recruited in the wake of the Integral debacle left him earlier this year, too. Gafni is going down for the third time and this time he will be staying down.

    As you pointed out, he is a narcissistic sociopath. I guess he just can’t stop. Even though it takes him to his own eventual destruction.

    • Downward Dog

      “Gafni is going down for the third time and this time he will be staying down.”

      Third time? Maybe the third time in the past decade, but he’s had plenty more scandals than that over the years. And since narcissistic sociopaths are biologically incapable of change, odds are good there will be more to come. Or at least as long as he can still attract victims naive enough to get trapped in his web. There might be a few left somewhere in Outer Mongolia.

  15. Wondering

    Good thing there is omega n kripalu for endless presentation opportunities. There appears to be no end to what is presentable at these retreats…the almighty dollar hand in hand with the almighty ego.

  16. milktoast hombre

    Methinks it’s called “Chutzpah”…Anyway, this article–and the comments–are an absolute hoot! Unfortunately, both Johnny and Marc are up to far darker shit than manipulating women into giving it up…

  17. Ura Felchmeister

    This is a great article. Exposes a couple of the true douchebags in the so called yoga/spirituality world. Hey can you do one exposing Kaminoff and his partner Nardini. Talk about narcissistic sociopaths…They aren’t even trying to hide it. Dark manipulative satanic shit goin’ down there. Anyway, just giving you the heads up on the next scandal coming down the pike. By the way, any word on when Yoga Journal will be filing for chapter 11?

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