By Danion Vasile
I am giving this talk because I feel compelled to give witness to the way in which Christ calls to Him those who have been deluded by different religions or by unorthodox spiritual practices. The topic, From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life, relates past and present – since before turning to Christ, the Son of God, and to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, I was a worshipper of Kali, the Goddess of Death.
I would like to start by saying that the things I am going to speak about will seem incredible to some of you. I understand scepticism and I am not trying to convince the sceptics of the validity of what I am going to say; I know that my story will sound like a work of fiction to them, like Orthodox science fiction, in fact, but I also know that there are people out there who will see with their souls and will believe that what I am about to say has actually happened to me. Now, almost fifteen years after I had converted to Orthodoxy, I feel as if I had been born and raised in the Orthodox Church. It is more and more difficult to me to remember the yoga practice I was so keen on and the paranormal forces I used to possess, or the tantric sexual debauchery I used to live in…
Many years have passed since I started writing and speaking against yoga practices, against occultism and the other ramifications of the New Age Movement. Why have I been doing it? Because I know that millions of souls have fallen prey to this delusion, because I know that these souls need Christ’s truth, and because I know how difficult it is to walk along a spiritual path at whose end it is the devil that awaits for you, not God.
It is a lack of humility to speak about one’s life, I know. Yet I shall not speak to you about the good deeds I have done, but about my evil deeds and about the way in which Christ came into my life and gently led me to the light of the truth…
I was born on August 15, 1974, on the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. As a child I was not close to the church. Although I was baptized when I was a baby, just like most Romanian babies, during the communist regime very few people attended church regularly – and although some of them believed in God they did not provide a religious education to their children.
I remember entering a Catholic Church when I was little; there, on the inside walls I saw scenes from the Passion of Christ. That night I dreamed that Christ was taken to Golgotha and He fell under the weight of the cross. I wanted to pick up His cross… Although the dream moved me, I cannot honestly say that it was the beginning of a commitment to the Christian faith for me. However, I was particularly attracted by a crucifix in our home, which I was told had been brought from Greece, that is, from Mount Athos, by my great-grandparents. I used to look at it and I remember being impressed by Christ’s suffering, but I still did not think about leading a Christian life.
Shortly after I turned thirteen I started my sexual life. My father insisted on it; he kept saying that I was not worthy of being his son if I did not – so I did… To this day, I remember that I used to spend hours on end trying to talk a girl into going to bed with me. Twenty years ago kids led a much purer life than they do nowadays and it was much more difficult to persuade someone to sin.
Right before I turned fourteen my mother committed suicide by throwing herself out the window. She fell approximately six feet away from the spot where my sister happened to be standing; my sister, who was eleven at the time, suffered a terrible shock. My mother’s death made me look for an answer to the question,
”What happens to us after death?”
I had occasionally tried yoga exercises before that tragic incident, but after it, I took to yoga with more dedication. My father brought home yoga books and books of Oriental philosophy for me to read. I tried to control my heartbeat to the point of stopping it altogether, but I could not do it. I also tried astral voyages and levitation exercises, but I was not good at it. I had even come up with a new spiritualistic technique in my attempts to contact my dead mother, without realizing that instead of talking to her or to other spirits I was talking to demons. It became obvious that I could not do things like that by myself: I needed a guru.
It was when I paid a visit to a young woman who was older than me and who had paranormal forces that I decided to give my undivided attention to spiritual quests. For a long time that young woman had been telling fortune from cards with extraordinary precision. She had been doing it until she started having dreams about dilapidated churches and about a voice, which was asking her, “God or the devil?” Nevertheless, she still did not go to church even though she did quit telling fortune from cards.
While I was talking to her, I told an innocent lie. At that moment, I felt a physical force coming out of her and pushing me away… I felt like jumping out the window to get rid of that unseen pressure. The young woman went to another room and I calmed down. When she came back, I told her that I had been lying to her about something and she said that was the reason why panic had seized me. I said I wanted to have such powers too and she suggested I take up yoga. She recommended the yoga courses taught by Gregorian Bivolaru, the most renowned and controversial Romanian guru of our day.
In 2004, the Romanian authorities took legal action against Bivolaru, accusing him of ”white slave trade and law transgressions associated to organized crime” and in 2005 he left the country illegally and sought political asylum in Sweden; the Supreme Court in Stockholm considered that he was persecuted for his religious beliefs and that the charges brought against him had to do with religious persecution and refused to extradite him. Now, after I had known him and the way in which he used to subjugate our souls, I would compare him to Jim Jones, who talked hundreds of disciples into committing suicide in Guyana, in 1978. Bivolaru did not determine anyone to commit suicide – not yet, anyway, but I would have done it if he, who was my guru, had asked me to; I would have committed suicide without thinking twice because I would have been convinced that if my guru was asking me to do it, it meant that suicide would benefit me spiritually.
In 1990, at the time that I joined Bivolaru’s group and started yoga classes with him, less than a year had passed since Ceausescu’s dictatorial regime had been abolished and we were finally enjoying religious freedom in Romania. Ceausescu had persecuted the Church and all spiritual groups for years on end. That was why those who had been imprisoned during those harsh times became very popular after 1989 – and Gregorian Bivolaru was one of them. He had been arrested and put in jail on the charge of spreading pornographic materials, but his disciples declared that those accusations were only a pretext and that the true reason for his incarceration were his yoga teachings. It was a plausible defense, taking into consideration the fact that many priests had been jailed for life by the communist regime on the accusation that they had been affiliated to a political group of Nazi orientation…
I had just started school when I turned to yoga; I was in the tenth grade and I believed that everything I was told was the Truth; I certainly believed that Bivolaru was a great spirit, maybe even the new Messiah. We were told that just as Christ had been the master of the spiritual Age of Pisces, even so the Age of Aquarius or the New Age had a Messiah who was about to come in order to take the world to the heights of holiness.
In those days there circulated some prophecies in our country spread by different Christian denominations claiming that Bucharest would be the New Jerusalem and Romania would become the spiritual centre of the planet. I strongly believed that was so – since I was convinced of the great importance of the meditation techniques taught by Bivolaru. I was convinced that he was familiar with the shortest path to spiritual liberation and to the cessation of the reincarnation cycle. Just like all New Age masters, Bivolaru was preaching belief in reincarnation and held that tantra yoga was the most efficient path to perfection. What is tantra yoga? It is sexual yoga. By mental concentration, yogis claim that they transmute sexual energies into spiritual energies. They engage in sexual acts, but not for the mere pleasure of it – because in tantra yoga orgasm is seen as a waste of energy, whereas a sexual act without orgasm is considered a means of spiritual progress.
Being a high school student, I was glad that many college students and intellectuals were attending yoga courses. For me, it was solid proof that I was on the right path. Nowadays, looking back on it after so many years, I realize that some of them were coming just for the sake of sex… It is easier to take up yoga and have as many sexual partners as you wish than to spend your money paying for it in a brothel. At that time, however, I did not see things that way…
Bivolaru was considered the Great Master… For instance, he taught us how to float in the air: it was a technique that had to be practised for four months and then we would just float… Although we were not interested in acquiring paranormal forces, some of us did acquire them and it was no wonder that we did. A young man managed to fly from the ground, where he was sitting in a meditating position, high up, close to the ceiling, placing objects on top of the cupboard. Other people acquired paranormal forces called ”sidhis”… Following many yoga exercises, I, for one, felt that I had become as large as the room I was in and that the four walls of that room were pressing on my energy field.
Little did I know that it was all a sensation induced by the devil…