Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute

Massimo Introvigne

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MISA TIMELINE

1952 (March 12):  Gregorian (“Grieg”) Bivolaru was born in Tărtăşeşti, in the Romanian region of Muntenia.

1970:  Bivolaru started teaching yoga in Bucharest.

1971:  Bivolaru was put under surveillance by the Romanian political police, the Securitate, for his interest in yoga and esotericism.

1972:  Bivolaru received a warning from the Securitate.

1973-1974:  Bivolaru was repeatedly interrogated by the Securitate.

1982:  The Communist regime banned the practice of yoga in Romania.

1984:  Bivolaru was arrested because he continued to teach yoga. He escaped from the Securitate jail (a unique occurrence in Communist Romania) and was sentenced to one year in prison because of this evasion.

1986:  Bivolaru received another warning by the Securitate.

1989 (July 20):  Raids against yoga schools were conducted throughout Romania. Bivolaru was arrested again.

1989 (August 15):  After he resisted pressures to abandon his yoga activities, Bivolaru was declared mentally insane and forcefully committed to a psychiatric hospital, a common way to suppress political dissidents in Communist Romania.

1989 (December):  The Ceausescu Communist regime fell. Political prisoners, including Bivolaru, were released from jails and psychiatric hospitals.

1990 (January):  Bivolaru resumed his yoga courses and his school was registered as the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA).

1991-1993:  MISA expanded rapidly, with tens of thousands of members in Romania and chapters established in several foreign countries.

1993-1994:  Campaigns against Bivolaru as a “cult leader,” accused of using “dark magic” and other deviant practices, started in the Romanian media.

1997:  Romanian intelligence service, the former “Securitate,” started keeping MISA under surveillance, claiming it was a threat to national security.

1998:  MISA organized the first Yang Yogic Spiral event, attended by over 5,000 people.

2004 (May 18):  The Romanian police raided MISA ashrams throughout the country and arrested Bivolaru, accusing him of a sexual relation with a seventeen year-old MISA student, M.D.

2005:  Freed from jail while awaiting trial, Bivolaru escaped to Sweden. In December, the Swedish Supreme Court rejected a Romanian request for extradition, believing that his prosecution was based on his religious beliefs.

2005:  MISA organized in Bucharest the first congress of the European Federation of Yoga, on the theme “Unity in Diversity.”

2006:  Bivolaru was granted refugee status in Sweden on the basis of Article 1 of the Geneva Convention.

2008:  The book Repression of the Yoga Movement in the 1980s, by Romanian human rights activists and political scientist Gabriel Andreescu, was published in Romania by Polirom. It detailed the persecution of yoga movements and teachers, including Bivolaru, in Communist Romania.

2009:  Within MISA, the Charismatic Theophanic Movement was established with the aim of promoting an opening towards God according to each student’s individual beliefs, including Christianity.

2010:  The English edition of Bivolaru’s book The Secret Tantric Path of Love to Happiness and Fulfillment in a Couple Relationship was launched in London.

2010 (April 23):  In the Romanian case, Bivolaru was found not guilty in first degree.

2010 (August):  At the annual retreat organized by MISA in Costineşti, Romania, a new method of meditation, known as the “Supreme and Efficient Method,” was inaugurated.

2011 (March 14):  In the Romanian case, Bivolaru was found not guilty on appeal.

2012 (December 6):  The Italian police raided the homes of MISA students in Italy. No charges were filed.

2012:  Over fifty members of the European Parliament signed letters in support of MISA and Bivolaru that were sent to Romanian authorities. A conference on the abuses and irregularities of the judicial prosecution of Bivolaru in Romania was organized at the European Parliament.

2013:  The Romanian Supreme Court overturned the lower courts’ decision, found Bivolaru guilty of a sexual relation with a seventeen year-old girl, i.e. M.D., and sentenced him to a six year jail sentence.

2013:  Gabriel Andreescu published a new book, Scrutiny of a Savage Repression, denouncing the judicial and media campaign against MISA in Romania.

2014 (September 16):  The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that the Romanian government had violated the rights of MISA member Dana Ruxandra Atudorei, who at the age of nineteen had been forcibly interned in a psychiatric asylum.

2016 (February 26):  Bivolaru was arrested while traveling to France.

2016 (April 26):  ECHR decided that twenty-six members of MISA, who had been mistreated in the 2004 raid, were entitled to receive  €291,000 in damages from the Romanian government.

2016 (July 22):  Bivolaru was extradited from France and brought to a Romanian jail,  notwithstanding his status as a refugee in Sweden.

2016:  A group of artists who practice yoga as taught by MISA launched a project (not sponsored by MISA as such) that culminated in the movie Continuamente amando (Continuously Loving), a synthesis of ideas on love and sexuality upheld by MISA.

2017 (February 28):  In the decision Bivolaru vs. Romania, ECHR ordered Romania to pay Bivolaru Euro 6,980 for having been illegally detained in 2004.

2017 (September 13): Bivolaru was freed on parole.

FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY

Gregorian (“Grieg”) Bivolaru [Image at right] was born inMISA1Tărtăşeşti, in the Romanian region of Muntenia, on March 12, 1952. His official biographers claim that he started experiencing altered states of consciousness as a young boy. As a young man, Bivolaru developed an interest in Eastern spiritualities and yoga by reading texts by the well-known Romanian historian of religions Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) and even corresponding with him. Not many books on yoga were available in Communist Romania, but Bivolaru somewhat managed to read texts by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1887-1963), and Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886).

In 1970, at age eighteen, Bivolaru started teaching yoga in Bucharest. Yoga was regarded with hostility by the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu (1918-1989), and banned altogether in 1982. Bivolaru was arrested in 1982, then again in 1989, and ended up in the psychiatric hospital of Poiana Mare, which hosted several other political dissidents.

When the regime fell in December 1989, he was freed and started MISA2again teaching yoga. In 1990, he founded MISA, the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute. [Image at right] In the immediate post-Ceausescu years, the yoga taught by Bivolaru, which included a positive appreciation of sexuality as a way to the divine, appeared to many as a symbol of the new freedom. The success was spectacular. In a few years, there were in Romania forty ashrams of MISA, 750 full-time members, and a total membership around 40,000.

Eventually, from Romania the movement spread internationally. Sister yoga schools based on Bivolaru’s teachings were founded in Austria, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Bosnia, Slovenia, Norway, Cyprus, the United States, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, India, and Thailand. All these yoga schools belong to an organization called ATMAN, The International Federation of Yoga and Meditation.

From 1993 on, the local Romanian media attacked Bivolaru, labeling him as “the sex guru” and publishing lurid stories about his alleged sexual escapades with many female followers. Police and judicial intervention followed (as detailed in the section “Issues/Challenges”). Because of continuing harassment by the police, particularly, but not only, in Romania, MISA lost some members. It is, however, still very active and growing in several countries, with some 20,000 students and over 1,000 full-time members in MISA’s and ATMAN’s communities. Each year MISA organizes in Romania two meetings in Herculane in May and in Costineşti in August. Each has an average attendance of 5,000. Meetings are also organized in other countries.

DOCTRINES/BELIEFS

The sources of MISA’s teachings are multiple: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Western Esotericism, and esoteric Christianity. MISA does not suggest that its students, who in their majority have been raised as Christians, abandon Christianity to embrace an alternative religious worldview. In 1997, a survey by sociologist Carmen Mărcuş revealed that 62.5 percent of MISA students in Romania continued to regard themselves as “open” to the local Orthodox Church (Mărcuş 1997:139). In 2009, Bivolaru founded within MISA the Mişcarea Charismatică Teofanică (Theophanic Charismatic Movement), aimed at promoting an opening up to the Divine according to each believer’s individual religious or spiritual beliefs, including the Christian ones.

MISA teaches a variety of paths and techniques, from the enneagram to alchemy to communication with angels, as part of an approach of “unity in diversity.” The various paths are unified by what the movement believes to be the essential principles of yoga. Each teaching is proposed apart from its historical and cultural context, in its essential “esoteric” core, which, according to MISA, is compatible with many other different paths. It is, however, clear both that the main source and inspiration of MISA is Tantrism and that we find in many ideas advanced by the movement echoes of the Kashmiri Tantric sage Abhinavagupta (ca. 950-1016). “Vira” and “Shakti” groups impart Tantric teachings respectively to men and women.

It is, of course, not true that Tantrism is only about sexuality. In fact, by reducing the complex Tantric worldview of the movement to the sole teachings about sexual relationships, media and opponents often offer a somewhat caricatural view of it. We should also remember that there is no scholarly consensus about the definition of Tantrism, with some claiming that “Tantrism” itself is an orientalist concept invented by Western scholars, while the Hindu and Buddhism traditions know only “Tantras,” i.e. books, traditions and techniques that are very different between each other and never formed a unified system. But even in aMISA3strict sense, and according to one among several competing definitions, Tantrism is about reaching enlightenment based on material or this-worldly realities, which are regarded as resources rather than obstacles. Sexuality is just one among these resources, but it is by no means the only one, and meditation [Image at right] and yoga exercises are equally important.

However, MISA’s sexual techniques have attracted the special attention of both scholars and critics. MISA’s main Tantric techniques are based on sexual continence, i.e. orgasm without ejaculation. The movement teaches that continence should not be confused with lack of desire or erotic pleasure. On the contrary, continence is strongly euphoric and regenerating. For men, continence offers the benefit of transmuting the sperm into energy. Something analogous, the movement maintains, is experienced also by women, spontaneously and almost effortlessly, as sexual energy flows upwards through the chakras. MISA also teaches that sexual continence is an integral part of a truly spiritual life, and the results (especially for men) are not immediate. In fact, it is argued that the awakening of the Kundalini Shakti, i.e. the mobilisation of the primal strong creative energy that is located at the base of the spine, is reached approximately after one year of continuous practice of continence and yoga (Bivolaru 2011). Continence is regarded as just a part of a complex of techniques including different yoga practices and intellectual efforts aimed at mastering an esoteric doctrine.

MISA uses several elements derived from a variety of Eastern and Western esoteric teachings, but does not believe that everything that goes under the name of esotericism is positive. The wide variety of topics discussed by MISA includes some that proved controversial. There is, for instance, a sustained anti-masonic discourse inside of MISA, and books by Bivolaru consistently expose Freemasonry and other organizations, such as the Illuminati, as the source of the Western World’s contemporary decadence and many evils. As the very covers of some MISA books show, traditional religious Roman Catholic and Orthodox criticism of Freemasonry remains a source, together with contemporary testimonies of hostile ex-Freemasons. Supporters of MISA sometimes describe these activities by Bivolaru in emphatic terms. “Freemasons, one of them claimed, consider Gregorian Bivolaru as a JAN VAN HELSING of Romania, who disturbs them more and more with his public disclosures of ‘terrifying’ secrets that only the top of Freemasons knows” (Yogi Blogger 2012).

The same wide variety of esoteric interests within MISA also came to include the topic of existence of extraterrestrial life. Just as Freemasons supposedly have contact with malefic extraterrestrials, several MISA students claim to be in touch with benevolent extraterrestrials, working together with the Supreme Galactic Council. Bivolaru suggested in a lecture in 2013 that benevolent extraterrestrials could have intervened to shatter into pieces a huge meteorite before it collapsed over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, an incident that would have had catastrophic effects for the whole Planet Earth (Matei 2013).

Danish scholar Sara Møldrup Thejls, in her seminal study of the movement, saw in MISA an example of “conspirituality,” the combination of conspiracy theories and New Age spirituality, and argued that “conspiracy theory is inherent esoteric in its epistemology,” so that it is not surprising to find it in esoteric movements (Møldrup Thejls 2015:72).

RITUALS/PRACTICES

Ritual practices of MISA include both daily rituals, where students learn how to practice different brands of yoga, and collective rituals that are organized during the annual meetings and other gatherings.MISA4One of the most spectacular is the Yang Yogic Spiral, where thousands of people hold hands and meditate in the open air. [Image at right] They are arranged according to their astrological signs and the Spiral is believed to enhance the beneficial effects of meditation.

At the annual retreat in Costineşti, in 2010, the “Supreme and Efficient Method,” a new form of collective meditation, was inaugurated. MISA believes that meditation practiced by many people together may cause important transformations at the level of the entire planet, and that such collective practices may have had an effect in preventing the Chelyabinsk meteorite incident.

What the movement calls “objective” art is yet another way of channeling divine energies through microcosmic material elements such as forms and colors. Along the same line, MISA also promotes music, dance and theater. According to Mihai Stoian, one of MISA’s leading yoga teachers, art is a direct method to awaken the soul (Stoian 2016). Artists connected with MISA such as Ines Honfi often produce yantras, i.e. Tantric diagrams with certain proportions and colors. They believe audiences resonate easily with these works of art, and their mind would slowly take the shape of yantra in meditation, being filled with the specific energies each work of art was encoded with.

Another MISA leading teacher, Nicolae Catrina, developed a “Yoga of Beauty” as a path to enlightenment through the contemplation of beauty. All genuine (objective) art can serve as the starting point for the Yoga of Beauty, whether it is explicitly “esoteric” or not. Catrina also emphasizes the importance of collective contemplation of art. When a group of initiates contemplate a work of art in a state of unison, each individual aesthetic experience is mirrored in the consciousness of all the others, generating a new field of global energy.

Sexuality also plays a part in MISA’s esoteric teachings. Director Carmen Enache, a MISA student, produced several erotic movies, with the purpose, she stated, of conveying a spiritual message through sexuality (Introvigne 2017). Some of them found their way to adult MISA5portals, while others, including 2016’s Continuamente amando (Continuoulsy Loving, originally released in Spanish), [Image at right] cannot be regarded as pornographic in any sensible meaning of the word. Enache insists, however, that even her early, sexually explicit productions were part of sacred eroticism and “objective art” (Bella Maestrina 2003). Unlike common adult movies, they taught Tantric practices such as continence, i.e. orgasm without emission of semen, and other forms of sexual magic, including some centered on the ritual use of urine.

More recently, individual members of MISA, inspired by their new perspective on art and eroticism, have created several projects, including theater, photography, and a website called Extasia. This perspective has also been presented at international erotic festivals and salons. However, when one reads all the material, it becomes clear that the center of the project is a very explicit denunciation of the separation of body and spirit, and of eroticism and spirituality, as a dramatic “wound” that needs to be healed, allowing women to get in touch again with their “inner goddess” (see the Artextasia website).

Critics call these erotic productions simply pornographic, and evenMISA6accuse of obscenity the milder theatrical shows in MISA retreats. [Image at right] Obviously, the difference is not always easy to tell, but MISA’s members insist that objective criteria exist. While legitimate erotic art celebrates the beauty of the body and sexuality, “obscene art” shows the disgusting and the revolting. In some articles, MISA suggests that there is a connection between obscene or lower forms of art and concepts promoted by the Illuminati and Freemasonry, which the movement regards as sinister groups working today against spirituality (see Yogaesoteric n.d.).

Two discrediting views often repeated in the media should be corrected. The first is that MISA as a movement produces erotic artifacts, including photographs and movies. These are in fact private initiatives of students, who express MISA’s worldview in different individual ways. The second is that sexuality is the main subject of MISA’s courses. In fact, courses on sexuality represent a small percentage of MISA’s total activities, teachings, and publications. MISA’s complete curriculum includes 2,100 courses, of which less than 100 refer to sexuality. Even the Tantra curriculum includes 600 courses, of which some seventy refer to sexuality, intimacy, or couple relationships.

ORGANIZATION/LEADERSHIP

From 1990 to 1995, MISA was led by Gregorian Bivolaru, as secretary and founder, assisted by a council of twenty-six senior students. He left this official position in 1995, but he continues to be regarded as the movement’s mentor and an important advisor on all MISA activities. He is deeply respected in the movement and regarded as a high authority on questions of doctrine.

Bivolaru is still consulted today, although his situation in Romania, where his legal problems continue, remains uncertain. The daily management of MISA is left to some of the oldest and most trusted students of Bivolaru, including Nicolae Catrina and Mihai Stoian.

MISA and its sister organizations (among which the Danish branch, NATHA, appears to be particularly important and to support other national branches throughout the world) operate through local centers, where students can receive the teachings and practice several yoga techniques. They can also attend retreats and seminars, as well as the annual conventions. Students normally pay a fee, which is used for the international expansion of MISA and for supporting full-time members.

As happened in similar groups, there have been teachers who have tried to continue to impart Bivolaru’s or similar teachings independently, without contributing any fee to MISA or ATMAN. Some of them tried to protect themselves by cooperating with the attacks against MISA by the anti-cult movements.

One dissident who has been able to organize an international network, based on teachings borrowed from MISA (although he occasionally denies it), is Narcis Tarcau (b. 1962). He founded Agama Yoga in 2002, which is currently headquartered in Thailand, where he offers retreats under the name of Swami Vivekananda Saraswati. He also cooperated with anti-cult campaigns against MISA.

ISSUES/CHALLENGES

MISA’s teachings about sexuality play a central role in the anti-cult narrative depicting the movement as a “sex cult.” There also have been  accusations that MISA has organized prostitution rings in various countries. These accusations have not been proved. In fact, even in the Romanian court cases, biased as they might have been against MISA, Bivolaru and other leaders have finally been judged as not guilty with respect to these specific charges.

As mentioned earlier, Bivolaru has faced legal problems since his early career as a yoga teacher and was repeatedly arrested in Communist Romania. After the fall of the regime, however, hostility against “cults” did not subside either in the Romanian media or in the attitudes of local law enforcement. MISA became the target of large media campaigns, where it was initially accused of being a paramilitary organization, a “cult” manipulating its members, and possibly a drug trafficking organization.

Only in the late 1990s was MISA particularly targeted because of its attitude towards sexuality. Throughout Romania, from the early 1990s. MISA yoga sessions were interrupted, yoga practitioners were interrogated by the police, and some were fired from their jobs. Romanian intelligence kept MISA under surveillance since 1997, claiming it was a threat to national security.

Official and media hostility to MISA culminated in the raids of March 18, 2004, nicknamed by the Romanian police “Operation Christ.” Gendarmes and military in the special forces, masked and armed with machine guns and Makarov pistols, accompanied by prosecutors and TV cameramen, smashed the doors and entered sixteen MISA ashrams throughout Romania simultaneously at seven A.M. The main TV channels echoed the official press release, announcing that “today at 7:00 a.m., police conducted the largest operation against drugs and human trafficking in the history of post-Revolution Romania.” In fact, no drugs were found, nor were charges for drug trafficking filed, and the raid in general did not find much of significance for prosecuting MISA.

In fact, attempts at prosecuting MISA students in subsequent years invariably failed. There was one exception. Among those taken to the police for interrogation in 2004 was seventeen year-old M.D. Submitted to prolonged interrogations, the young girl ended up signing a statement alleging that Bivolaru had sex with her. Once released from the custody of the police, M.D. immediately recanted and claimed in several interviews with the media that her “confession” had been extorted under duress. It is also important to note that the legal age of consent for sexual relationships in Romania is fifteen. The law, however, incriminates teachers who have sex with their students. Prosecutors constructed the relation between M.D. and Bivolaru as one between student and teacher, although both denied that this was the case, and evidence was filed showing that she never participated in classes taught personally by Bivolaru.

Bivolaru was arrested, at first for illegal crossing of the border (even if he was not under any interdiction for crossing the border), and charged with seven different crimes. These included human trafficking (based on the charge that members of MISA worked for the movement without an adequate salary), trafficking of minors, and sexual relationships with different minors, including M.D. The legal aftermath of the 2004 raid took place in five different jurisdictions: Romania, Sweden, France, Italy, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

In Romania, the prosecutor’s case against Bivolaru with respect of the alleged sexual improprieties quickly collapsed, and he was found not guilty both in first degree and on appeal. The prosecutor, however, appealed to the Supreme Court, which on June 14, 2013 reversed the first and second degree verdicts with respect only to the alleged sexual relationship with M.D. For this offense, Bivolaru received an unusually heavy six-year jail sentence. He complained that documents where M.D. repeatedly denied any sexual relation with him were not admitted, and he was not heard through international rogatory commission as he had requested.

Bivolaru, in fact, was not in Romania in 2013. Freed from jail while awaiting trial, in 2005 he had decided to flee his native country and escape to Sweden, where he was arrested again following a request from the Romanian authorities. However, in December 2005 the Swedish Supreme Court  rejected a Romanian request from extradition and ordered the immediate release of Bivolaru, believing that his prosecution was motivated by his religious ideas. In 2006, Bivolaru obtained the status of refugee in Sweden.

In 2016, however, Bivolaru was arrested while he was traveling in France (a country not particularly hospitable to groups deemed to be “cults,” for visiting a book fair, after Romania had obtained his inclusion on the list of Europol’s most wanted fugitives. On Europol’s Web site Bivolaru was described by Romanian authorities as guilty of “sexual exploitation of minors and child pornography,” while in fact he was sentenced in 2013 only for the alleged sexual relationship with M.D. A legal battle for extradition followed, and French authorities decided in first degree and appeal that Bivolaru should be extradited to Romania, notwithstanding his status of political refugee in Sweden. On July 22, 2016 Bivolaru was brought to Romania. He was freed on parole on September 13, 2017.

In addition to serving his 2013 sentence, he has been investigated for his escape from Romania in 2005, and the case for human trafficking has been reopened. In turn, Bivolaru applied for a revision of the Supreme Court decision of 2013 in the M.D. case, based on the fact the Court initially agreed to hear him in Sweden through a rogatory commission but then issued its decision without waiting for Sweden to allow him to be interrogated. This request for revision was denied in February 2017.

The Romanian police also kept providing information, both directly and through the international network of anti-cult movements, to authorities in other countries where MISA is active. Based on this information, at dawn on December 6, 2012, the police broke into the private houses of twenty-five Italian citizens and foreign residents in Italy. Some were students of MISA while others were just relatives and friends. Hundreds of documents were seized, including yoga courses materials, computers, cell phones, videos, and personal journals. The decree authorizing the seizure mentioned possible charges of criminal conspiracy, prostitution, pornography, enslavement, and sexual violence. No evidence in support of these allegations has been presented publicly  nor have charges been filed at the date of this writing.

Finally, MISA students who believed they had been abused during the 2004 raid took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Before their case was decided, ECHR had already rendered a decision favorable to a student of MISA, Dana Ruxandra Atudorei, who at the age of nineteen had been forcibly confined in a psychiatric asylum because of her participation in the movement’s activities. On September 16, 2014, in the case Atudorei v. Romania, ECHR decided that her human rights had been violated. This was a prelude to the landmark ECHR decision Amarandei and others v. Romania of April 26, 2016, where twenty-six members of MISA who had been mistreated in the 2004 raid obtained €291,000 in damages from the Romanian government. The decision was important since it stated that the raid was based on insufficient evidence and that the excessive use of physical and psychological violence violated the complainants’ human rights and dignity. Finally, on February 28, 2017, in the decision Bivolaru vs. Romania, ECHR ordered Romania to pay Bivolaru Euro 6,980 for having been illegally detained in 2004.

From the movement’s own point of view, the campaign against Bivolaru also has included pressures from Masonic and other occult organizations disturbed by his criticism. MISA has published anonymous letters sent to Bivolaru prior to his arrest and extradition in 2016, promising help if he would stop his criticism of Freemasonry and the “new world order,” and threatening him with imprisonment if he didn’t, together with evidence that the letters (whose source is, of course, unknown) were in fact received. Italian scholar Raffaella Di Marzio also reported that MISA notes “the importance of Jacques de Molay (1243-1314), the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar” for Freemasonry, De Molay was burned at stake on March 18, 1314. “The raid against the MISA centers in Romania, which was the beginning of the whole international judicial prosecution, nicknamed ‘Operation Christ’ (in itself an unusual name in a Christian country), took place on March 18, 2004. The extradition hearing of Bivolaru in France took place on March 18, 2016, in a court located in the same Île de la Cité in Paris where de Molay was burned at stake on March 18, 1314.” Di Marzio notes that “in both cases, students of MISA claim, the police and judicial activities were slightly delayed at the last minute, as if somebody was interested in having them exactly on March 18. Sometimes, such coincidences are significant. Sometimes, obviously, they are just coincidences. But the whole story adds further spice to an intricate web of relationships between the law, the anti-cult movements, and esotericism” (Di Marzio 2017).

The campaign against MISA shows a combination of different elements. Romanian society is undergoing a difficult process of modernization, complicated by a demographic, economic, and social crisis. The saga of MISA confirms that Romania has not completely come to terms with its Communist past. There are, of course, competing projects for governing this transition. The Orthodox Church believes that it will be able to maintain its traditional role through an alliance with the State. In turn, the State mediates between different notions of rationality, science, and progress, and different forces. Few of them seem to welcome the ambitious project of MISA, a very visible group that does not accept remaining marginal and offers remedies to the Romanian crisis based on an esoteric vision of yoga, where doctrines about the body and its energetic structures, including sexuality, are proposed based on what is presented as the ancient wisdom of tantric yoga.

IMAGES

Image #1: Gregorian Bivolaru.
Image #2: The symbol of MISA.
Image #3: Tantric meditation.
Image #4: Yang Yogic Spiral.
Image #5: Initiation scene from the movie Continuamente amando.
Image #6: Performance during a yoga retreat.

REFERENCES

Bella Maestrina (pseud. of Carmen Enache, dir.). 2003. The Making of Ecstasy Water II. Documentary movie. Budapest: Karessa Universal.

Bivolaru, Gregorian. 2011. The Secret Tantric Path of Love to Happiness and Fulfillment in a Couple Relationship, 2nd ed. Copenhagen: Natha Publishing House.

Di Marzio, Raffaella. 2017. “MISA, the Anti-Cult Movement and the Courts: The Legal Repression of an Esoteric Movement.” A paper presented at the 2017 bi-annual meeting of ESSWE (European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism), Erfurt, Germany, 1-3 June 2017.

Introvigne, Massimo. 2017. “Sex, Movies, and Deviance: The Strange Case of Carmen Enache.” A paper presented at the 2017 bi-annual meeting of ESSWE (European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism), Erfurt, Germany, 1-3 June 2017.

Mărcuş, Carmen. 1997. “Efectele psiho-sociale ale practicii yoga.” Pp. 131-140 in Revista de Cercetări Sociale, 3.

Matei, Rafael 2013. “Unda de şoc determinată de meteorul din Rusia a fost atât de puternică încât a înconjurat Pământul de două ori”. 18 July 2013. Accessed from http://www.yogaesoteric.net/content.aspx?lang=RO&item=7622 on March 20, 2017.

Stoian, Mihai. 2016. “Art as a Direct Method to Awaken the Soul.” DVD. Copenhagen: Natha.

Thejls, Sara Møldrup. 2015. “MISA and Natha: The Peculiar Story of a Romanian Tantric Yoga School.” Pp. 62-76 in James R. Lewis and Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen (eds.), Handbook of Nordic New Religions, Leiden and Boston: Brill.

Yogaesoteric. n.d. “Incredibil, profund revoltător, dar adevărat: Iată care este ‘arta’ abjectă pe care o promovează francmasonii!” Accessed from http://www.yogaesoteric.net/content.aspx?lang=RO&item=3336 on March 20, 2017.

Yogi Blogger, “Gregorian Bivolaru, un Jan van Helsing al României,” January 18, 2012. Accessed from http://misa-yoga.blogspot.com/2012/01/gregorian-bivolaru-un-jan-van-helsing.html on March 20, 2017.

Post Date:
1 June 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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