Isha, Ishaya

Isha, Ishaya

One of the hazards of a public forum like a blog is that some articles bring out the disappointed and the angry. People with a story to tell/vent about this or that teacher or system. But sometimes the backstory can bring out interesting insights. But you have to look under the drama.

I’ve mentioned one such drama here prior with the Beatles in India.

Recent articles on Isha have drawn a bit of similar. One question I was curious about was Isha’s own spiritual history. She mentioned using the facets for her own process but is vague about their source. What she does teach though is obviously effective.

Awhile back, a friend of mine started hanging with someone into “Ishaya”, taught by a fellow known as Maharishi Sadashiva Isham or MSI. MSI was originally known as Robert Vaughn Abrams and was a TM teacher who lived in Iowa at their larger centre.

The story is that when his life fell apart in 1988, he traveled to India and met an old order of monks called Ishayas who taught him the Keys, what Isha calls the Facets. MSI eventually built a group in N. Carolina and made teachers called Ishayas.

They say that the Indian sage Shankara founded the teaching from a rediscovery. When Jesus was traveling in Egypt some 500 years later, he met traveling monks from Shankara’s tradition and went to India to study with them. He later taught the Keys to the apostles as a higher teaching. After the crucifixion, apostle John went to India and established the Ishaya order to maintain the teaching. (not clear why if there already was an Ishaya order)

This says that the Ishaya teaching was rooted in both the Christian and Hindu traditions. There’s no real way of verifying these ideas. I’ve seen other documentation that Jesus traveled to Egypt and India and it is highly likely he would have been exposed to Shankara’s teaching there. My own practice is derived from the Shankara tradition but is unlike Ishaya’s, although one site does compare meditation and the facets. And the Shankara tradition certainly includes a number of techniques. Certainly interesting, but who knows?

MSI died in August of ’97 and it appears the Ishayas broke into sub-groups.

Isha herself was apparently an Ishaya known as Sakti Ishaya or Sakti Ishaya Maharishi. She migrated to South America, first in Venezuela, and eventually in Uruguay. There are several books published in this name as co-author.

At some point, she evidently broke away from the group and began teaching solo. This is not at all uncommon. The star student comes to feel constrained by the organization and steps out from the shadow. Deepak Chopra has a similar history. MSI  broke away from his original teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

From what I’ve seen, she made no attempt to differentiate the technique from what the Ishaya’s teach. Just slight word changes like Key and Facet. For whatever reason she simply saw fit to teach independently.

Some of the Ishaya’s still refer to her as one of their teachers but Isha does not mention them. Given the response I got from someone who called themselves an Ishaya, they have some healing to do. I can see why she might not wish an association in the meantime.

Several people I know that use Isha’s facets found this history very interesting as it explained the power behind them. I find the journey of a teaching quite fascinating, whatever truth it may or may not reveal. It reflects the journey of consciousness in knowing itself.

Last Updated on July 23, 2020 by Davidya

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  1. Davidya

    I find the process of awakening and the variations in experience fascinating. Many don’t share it. A few I’ve read say things like “I did TM, psychotherapy, EST, EFT, etc so I don’t know what it was.” (techniques are not for awakening so it’s not really the right outlook)

    As some of the ‘alternate’ gospels have illustrated, the life of Jesus was probably quite different than we typically understand. I remember reading of a team of archeologists finding very old copies of the gospels written on leaves in India. They told a different story, including Jesus’s time in India. Given that the traditional Bible only covers a few years of his life, one certainly can wonder what happened to the rest of it and where his awakening story is. (he is not described as a pre-awake avatar but as a man who became)

    As for gossip, I do try to avoid such. Gossip is just stories that obscure the truth rather than reveal it. But it would not be hard for some of the above to be discovered such – current gossip or old stories that became myth. Ah well. We live in a story – how is that different from living in gossip? (laughs)

    now about this “queen”… 😉

  2. Davidya

    Worth mentioning that Isha has shifted names recently, now calling herself Isha Judd rather than just Isha. Shes changed her blog and Youtube channel accordingly.

    In looking at this, I also notice this is not the first time. She has an earlier Youtube channel from 2007 called Shankaraisha.

    Interesting she is now using a western name. Not sure if this is her birth surname as this name has been removed from Wikipedia.

  3. Davidya

    You may wish to go deeper into your practice. It’s unbecoming to publicly spam anger and resentment on every reference you find to her. Calling people names illustrates your own heart development.

    If you actually read the blog posts, you would find I talk about how the Ishayas broke apart and at some point, Isha split away from the group. This is not uncommon and as I mention, MSI did the same thing.

    I would also consider it respectful of the teaching that she has keep it intact. I’ve met her a couple of times and she is doing good work. I would not say it’s the highest teaching, but it is helping a lot of westerners connect with the heart.

  4. J

    Truly it is common for groups to break apart and some members create their own teaching. It is a bit curious, however, to give no credit nor acknowledgment to the origin or inspiration of a newly created or altered technique.

  5. Davidya

    True, but many don’t. Deepak Chopra gives credit to his background but not his primary teacher for many years.

    Personally I find her continued attempts to distance herself from her history and “market” herself a little pointless. That can be alienating as a new teacher I know has recently discovered.

    It was not hard to find the above and more online. Changing her name and pushing English speakers off her web site won’t hide any of that. But we all have our journeys to make. And as I’ve said, she is helping many people. That’s more important than any name.

  6. Davidya

    Again, you may wish to look more deeply into your feelings. My posts on Isha have attracted some angry Ishaya people. This is a heart centered practice. The best test of that is how we respond and judge others. Who is the wolf then?

    And BTW – she wears leather. 😉

  7. Davidya

    As I mentioned in a prior comment, “This is a heart centered practice. The best test of that is how we respond and judge others.” I find it a useful exercise to know a persons background as it gives a sense of where they come from, how their path has unfolded, and why they have the approach they do.

    I don’t find it useful to spread malicious comments. You may say you express no acrimony, merely fact. But suggesting such things is not exactly polite. Is this something you know first hand? And what of MSI? Did he credit his early teacher?

    I’ve not been impressed by the Ishaya’s who have commented on this blog.

  8. CelticNik

    People, people, people, what does it matter. Take it at face value – regardless of where she came from or how she got here or what she wears or has for breakfast, Isha Judd is devoting her life to doing excellent work. She has new listeners probably every day. Peace, light and love to all 🙂

  9. knowing one

    Isha aka sakti ishaya aka heather Judd is a fraud who took the ishaya techniques changed a few words to try and make it about her. She is not enlightened, she is self promoting and an extremely large ego. I have seen her be verbally and physically abusive to those closest to her. What she shows the world is a sham. People need to stop looking for false messaihs and start going inward to find the truth.

  10. Davidya

    You don’t reflect your name very well. And I have to wonder how much people like yourself actually practice the keys, that you come here and express such anger. You should take your own advice and find some emotional healing.

    To repeat for the third time here: “This is a heart centered practice. The best test of that is how we respond and judge others.”

    Isha’s new book on illusory beliefs you may find constructive, Love Has Wings.

  11. Davidya

    to “El Mugroso”
    if you bothered to look at other comments, you’d know I’m not really interested in your personal agenda. You may not approve of her methods or use of a “stage name” but there’s no conspiracy here.
    You’d be better served healing your anger. I find it more useful to point out the good teachers than rant about those you disagree with. That just brings them attention. How often have you found venting on others inclines them to listen to you?

  12. This site lists the 4 keys. This suggests Isha has fixed them where the original teachings were more customized.
    This site suggests there are 27 keys and lists their qualities. 7 spheres suggests 7 courses. I didn’t find this site when I did the research before.

    The blend of terminology I find odd – TM interpretations of stages mixed in with terms like Ascension.

  13. One of the background stories (they vary some)

    One of the more recent active groups

    As other articles on this blog indicate, I think culturing gratitude and the heart is an excellent practice. However I don’t consider this “effortless meditation” as presented on their site. As noted, a true meditation gives you regular experience of source/presence/ samadhi. We could say heart practices cultures sattva while meditation cultures Atman.

  14. Being also familiar with the Yoga Sutra, browsing the 27 keys, I’m reminded of book 3.

    Given that MSI would have learned the TM-Sidhi program and also translated the Yoga Sutra, I would suggest they had at least a strong influence on deriving the keys. It may even have been their source.

    I’d bet if I took the time I could align every key to a sutra.

    We could debate who it was that developed this – MSI, Jesus or Shankara (per their story) but it’s a useful observation.

  15. Further, Jesus and Shankara would have both been exposed to the Yoga Sutra, so even if MSI derived the keys from the text, the story then makes a bit more sense. All he would have needed to pick up from India was the approach. It also suggests why there as no reason to refer back to the original Ishaya order in India.

    Speculation on my part but it makes better sense than the story as they present it.

  16. Hi Orion
    Quite the father you had. Someone who reads this may pass your link on.

    I’ve found it a good sign of healing when someone is willing to acknowledge their history. I used Chopra as an example in the article. In an interview with Oprah more recently, he talked about some of that history indicating good healing.

    However, as I’ve noted in comments above, some of the Ishayas have been hostile with her so she may remain reticent.

    The book American Veda speaks of the wave of eastern teachers and ideas to N. America. Many of us became keeners with this teacher or that but became disillusioned by the teacher, the organization, or the high goals we failed to reach – back then. But it did get us on a path that has flowered further along – if we didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    The next generation has had a different approach and are more practical. Good luck on your own journey.

  17. Hello Davidya,

    I’ve been a teacher of the Ishayas’ Ascension for about 14 years and have fairly good info on most of the topics above. I have to get back to some writing projects right now, but I can say that the Ascension techniques, including the “super duper” advanced ones don’t line up too much with the sutras used in the TM-Sidhi program. I was actually expecting them to, but they don’t. The Isha Keys aren’t a particularly good representation of the practice. Ascension is an off-the-charts easy way of accessing Samadhi- right down into Pure Consciousness. At least that is what it did for me, my peers, and the folks that I’ve had the pleasure to teach! 🙂 I’ve taught a good amount of longterm dedicated TMers who report to being kind of “stuck in Cosmic Consciousness- we use the term Perpetual Consciousness”. Ascension has been especially effective at helping them advance further.

  18. Joan

    I spent 6 months in Manzanillo, Mexico practicing the Isha Judd system and experienced countless hours of her instruction in a group setting. It was a very powerful and beautiful experience on multiple levels. I also witnessed Isha abusing and humiliating her own teachers on several occasions in what appeared to be an utter lack of self control. I would also hear her talk about the transformational impact of her 6 month experience but with no acknowledgment of the origins of her own awakening. I’m grateful for the experience but also left with many questions.

    1. Hi Joan
      Spiritual teaching is a rather fraught profession. There can be a clear awakening and great insights. Yet our humanity, sprouted karma, and blind spots remain. Power dynamics can be difficult and personal issues can play out on students. I wrote an article on the topic recently:

      Teaching traditions had built-in mechanisms, like ensuring teachers were more ready before launching. But they became stagnant and rigid. Now we have many largely independent teachers so there is less protection. Students have to take more care.

      The Ishaya group lost its leader and broke apart. That’s also been a common path in groups. The key is take what’s valuable and leave the rest.

    2. Hello Joan,

      I’m an independent teacher of the Ishayas’ Ascension, meaning not currently attached into any particular sub-group, and a bit of a historian and record keeper of Ascension’s history (perhaps partly because folks including Isha Judd have been involved in straight up lying for years). I would love to be of help to you and would be happy to exchange emails and be in contact with you if you were so inclined. I did my Teacher Training in Oregon back in 2003-04.


      A bit about me can be found on my website-

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