Autobiography of a Schism

  • James R. Lewis University of Tromsø, Norway


In my youth, I was a member of Yogi Bhajan’s Healthy Happy Holy Organisation (3HO), a new religious movement that blends kundalini yoga with Sikhism. In the process of leaving that organisation, I formed a short-lived splinter group – the Spiritual Dawn Community – that lasted less than a year. In the present article, I recount the narrative of this splintering, and then reflect on the split in terms of different theoretical discussions of schisms and apostasy. Though prior theorizing provides certain insights, no analyst has thus far adequately captured the dynamic and fluid situation that leads up to a schism. From the perspective of someone who has experienced the schismatic process from the inside, it is clear that there are any number of different points at which a schism could have been prevented – even in cases where the split appears to have been inevitable.


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