In his new book Nothing Is Impossible, Christopher Reeve offers inspiration and hope, but the Hollywood icon also demonstrates his enduring sense of humor.

In a chapter titled Religion, Reeve tells the story of his involvement with Scientology during 1975.

The saga begins outside a supermarket where the actor runs into a Scientologist promoting a “free personality test.” Reeve obliges him and takes the test, curious to find out its results.

The next day in the “plush…inner sanctum of…[Scientology’s] headquarters…suitable for the president or CEO of a major corporation” he is told the bad news. Scientologists warn Reeve that he is carrying “heavy ‘baggage'” and suffers from a litany of personal problems.

But of course they can provide the needed “‘training'” to help him, which they say he should begin immediately.

So the future Superman takes Scientology courses hoping one day he will “go Clear,” which is Scientology jargon for reaching a supposed advanced state of consciousness made possible through their training.

Reeve writes about an exercise called “‘TRO’ (Training Routine Zero)” and explains, “The objective was to empty our minds of extraneous thoughts (‘clutter’)” And “whenever our own clutter tried to come back in, we were…to acknowledge its return and then command it to go away.”

Doesn’t this sound like “brainwashing“?

The actor tells readers that TRO only cost him “a few hundred dollars.” But after that came “auditing,” which he describes as “outrageously expensive.” And Reeve says Scientology wanted “$3,000 in advance” for that service, which was billed at a “$100 an hour in 1975.”

He explains that the “auditor” used an “E-Meter,” which is “a simple box with a window that contained a fluctuating needle and a card with numbers from one to ten. Two wires running out of the box…were attached to tin cans,” which he was asked to hold.

Apparently it didn’t take x-ray vision for Reeve to conclude that the “E-meter was basically a crude lie detector.”

What Reeve subsequently details sounds like an interrogation. The actor was asked to “recall the use of…illegal substances…painkillers…anything stronger than aspirin.” He says, “My drug rundown used up for or five sessions.”

But Reeve had “growing skepticism about Scientology.” So he decided to run his own test.

He told the auditor a long story supposedly about a past life, but he made it all up, based upon a Greek myth.

However, the auditor didn’t detect anything, even with the help of the trusty “E-Meter.”

It was then that the “Man of Steel” decided he was done with Scientology. Reeve writes, “The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication completely devalued my belief in the process.”

Summing up a religious critique the actor says, “My problem has always been with religious dogma intended to manipulate behavior.”

Elsewhere in the book Reeve recounts exposure to Transcendental Meditation, a run-in with a devotee of Baba Muktanananda, an awareness weekend seminar, Deepak Chopra, “Harmonic Convergence” and “rebirthing.”

But Christopher Reeve never became another movie star devoted to some guru or “cult.” And it’s refreshing to find a celebrity that isn’t another annoying Hollywood cliché, constantly promoting some leader, special mentor or weird group.

Even after life dealt Reeve a tough hand in 1995 through a freak accident that paralyzed his body, he still didn’t grasp for some self-serving, comforting or convenient belief system.

Instead, the actor says God wants us to “do our best” and simply “discern the truth.” And Reeve cites a guiding principle espoused by the pragmatic Abraham Lincoln, “When I do good I feel good. When I do bad I feel bad. And that’s my religion.”

It seems Scientology has more to learn from Superman than he ever could have taken in from its endless courses and “auditing.”

Maybe this movie star should teach some Hollywood Scientologists like Tom Cruise and John Travolta?

Given his current circumstances many might think Christopher Reeve is bitter. But the actor centers much of his life and faith upon the value of hope.

He concludes at the end of his book, “When we have hope, we discover powers, within ourselves we may have never known—the power to make sacrifices, to endure, to heal, and to love. Once we choose hope, everything is possible.”

In its “Roll Call” of those who died during 2002 Associated Press describes a purported “cult leader” accused of “brainwashing” and sexual exploitation as simply a “guru who advocated respect for all faiths through his motto “Truth is One, Paths are Many,” reports Fox News.

However, the late “guru” Satchidananda, who died this past August, actually recruited people for his own “path,” which largely consisted of honoring, obeying and serving his own needs.

Yogaville, the ashram in rural Virginia Satchidananda founded, was a place used to contain the guru’s most devoted followers and generate revenue. It has now become something of a shrine to his ego as well.

Associated Press seems to have done little more than run an ashram press release. Fox likewise posted the report apparently without any meaningful background research.

But many articles have been previously published about Satchidananda, which reflect the guru’s deeply troubled history and a litany of allegations about abuse and sordid sex scandals.

It is true that the good are listed along with the bad on the Associated Press 2002 “Roll Call.” You will find mob bosses Joseph Bonnano and John Gotti along with the Queen Mother of Great Britain and slain journalist Daniel Pearl listed together.

However, perhaps it would have been better to provide a more accurate description of the boss of Yogaville, rather than just echo the perception of his devoted followers.

Swami Satchidananda was once a popular guru with a flock of notable fans. His historic admirers included singer-songwriter Carole King, actors Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern, diet Doctor Dean Ornish and artist Peter Max.

However, some say that Satchidananda created a “cult,” and scandal seemed to plague the controversial leader until his death earlier this year.

The ashram community in Virginia left behind by Satchidananda is called “Yogaville.”

The heirs to the guru’s legacy decided to file an action against a family, for using Internet domain names as a means to share critical information about the guru and his group on the Worldwide Web.

The Chengs, who lost family member Catherine to “Yogaville” three years ago, want to warn others about the perils of the controversial group, which they consider a “destructive cult.” So the New York family bought up domain names such as “” and “Integral” to help people find an archive with critical information about the group.

The Satchidananda ashram then responded first with threats and later with a legal complaint, apparently designed to suppress the family’s efforts. The group hoped to ultimately confiscate the disputed domain names.

Yogaville claimed the Chengs somehow were using the domain names for an “illegitimate purpose” and invoked trademark protection.

However, the National Arbitration Forum didn’t see it that way.

In a unanimous decision the forum denied all of Yogaville’s claims and concluded, “It is crystal clear that Respondent is using the disputed domain names for legitimate noncommercial or fair use.”

One panelist of the National Arbitration Forum said he would have found Yogaville guilty of “Reverse Domain Name Hijacking,” if the Chengs had counter-claimed. He described the ashram’s purchase of various and similar domain names as a “bad faith effort to use the Policy as a crude club to suppress legitimate, protected, First Amendment speech.”

This resounding “slap down” victory for the Chengs sets an important precedent regarding free expression on the Internet.

Thanks to the complete failure of Yogaville’s complaint, other groups and/or organizations will now find such claims of trademark infringement an increasingly difficult strategy to employ as a scheme to block easy access to critical information on the Internet.

Once Christy Turlington appeared to be primarily concerned with her modeling career, but now it seems the “Supermodel” has become increasingly focused on other pursuits—such as her practice of yoga.

In her new book “Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice” Turlington touts her yoga lifestyle. She has also launched a yoga clothing line.

The message seems to be—if want to look like Christy, do yoga like Christy. And for a nation increasingly inhabited by overweight people, the United States seems posed to embrace such advice.

However, there is more to Turlington’s book than just that.

Most Americans who initially become involved in yoga simply want to get in shape. But Turlington’s book isn’t just about healthy exercise; it’s also concerned with reshaping your mind or consciousness. And the fashion diva’s thinking seems to have been influenced by some pretty controversial “gurus.”

Christy Turlington’s personal odyssey in yoga apparently has included a few groups called “cults.”

The Supermodel cites 3HO, “Siddha Meditation” and “Integral Yoga International” (IYI) positively within “Living Yoga.” However, these three groups share more than the practice of yoga in common. All three have been called “cults” and have a history of abuse claims made by former members, which has included sexual exploitation.

“Yogi Bhajan” who founded and still leads 3HO, settled a lawsuit with a former secretary rather than go to court over her abuse claims. Supposedly celibate “Swami Satchidananda,” the now deceased creator of IYI, weathered a sex scandal in the early 90s. And some of Siddha’s late leader Muktananda’s former disciples also reported that he sexually abused them.

Christy Turlington’s latest teacher is Eddie Stern who runs a yoga studio in lower Manhattan. He isn’t a “cult leader,” but has generated some complaints and concern.

Ms. Turlington seems to have come through all these groups unscathed. But despite their histories, she offers no warnings or even a footnote within her book to would-be yoga buffs.

The Publisher’s Weekly review at says Christy Turlington’s book goes “beyond getting a nice butt” and that “there’s a lot to digest” within its pages. Maybe that’s an understatement.

Yoga still means firming up, not flipping out to most people. And readers might just choke on some of the groups and gurus Turlington includes in her eclectic yoga buffet.

One Turlington admirer at posted, “I look at Christy as a true role model.” Perhaps as a celebrity role model Turlington should be more prudent about who and what she promotes publicly.

Satchidananda, the founder of “Yogaville” may have died in August, but his die-hard followers want to keep his memory alive. They staged a “remembrance weekend” to honor the man many say developed a “cult” following.

In a rededication ceremony a crane was used to pour water from “holy rivers” over the multi-million dollar edifice known as the “Lotus Shrine,” which the late guru had built within his ashram compound known as “Yogaville,” reported the Daily Progress of Charlottesville.

However, what the local Virginia newspaper failed to report was the devastation caused by Satchidananda to many members and families during the guru’s reign over his “spritual” kingdom that began in the 1960s.

The man his ardent disciples called “Sri Swami Satchidananda Maharaj” and wish the world to remember as a selfless and celibate “spiritual leader” was actually a faker, sexual predator and liar, according to some former members. Apparently, the swami wasn’t so celibate with his female secretaries and traveling companions.

When a sex scandal broke about Satchidananda in the early 90s many members left, while others deeply invested in the group through years of devotion seemingly chose denial instead. As the ever “spiritual” swami said, “Don’t judge me, I am your guru. If you choose to believe it you can leave right now. Or, if you have faith, you can stay and continue in my service.”

Many cults die with their founders. However, when there is a large residue of assets such as property, businesses and cash the incentive is there to carry on. Satchidananda left behind such a tangible “legacy.”

The guru’s remaining devotees seem intent upon maintaining that “legacy.” And it appears that Yogaville, like the deceased “swami,” has developed its own history of abuse allegations.

But no matter how much “holy” water Satchidananda’s followers pour out at Yogaville nothing is likely to wash away the allegations of abuse, which taint both its former leader and the ashram.

The burgeoning growth industry of self-improvement within the United States continues to include exotic spiritual mentors. And India has been a fount for a litany of purported “gurus,” “swamis,” “yogis” and other would-be “god-men” that have enthralled Americans.

But in India such supposedly “spiritual” types are increasingly seen as simply tricksters or confidence men. And the police in Bombay are busting them, reports Reuters.

One Indian official who has exposed more than a few explained, “[Our] campaign is meant to be an eye-opener. We want to put a complete stop to those posing as god-men.”

But in the United States the First Amendment precludes putting a “complete stop” to any “religious” endeavor. So many of the “god-men” of India have immigrated to a more open market. After all, why work Bombay when you can come to America and make the big bucks?

Since the sixties a virtual wave of Indian gurus has washed upon the shores of North America. And seemingly gullible Americans have proven over and over again that they are willing to buy the wares of these “god-men” and a few “god-women” too.

The list of such spiritual entrepreneurs keeps growing.

There was Swami Satchidananda (now deceased), Guru Sri Chinmoy (still carrying on in Queens New York), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (perhaps the richest guru on earth), Guru Maharaji (a boy wonder), Swami Prabhupada (deceased founder of “Krishna Consciousness”), Sai Baba, Swami Muktananda (deceased founder of Siddha), Yogi Bhajan of 3HO, Swami Rama and let’s not forget the notorious Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who was deported before he died.

A new female “guru” is breaking into the American market named “Chalanda Sai Ma.” She is apparently a former pupil of Sai Baba and others, but is now touring solo.

Of course the United States appears to have plenty of homegrown flim flam, which includes an assortment of psychics, faith healers, mediums and even snake handlers. And American authorities are often far less vigilant than their Indian counterparts, when it comes to protecting the public.

Still, despite easily accessible homegrown holy men, there seems to be something about flowing saffron robes, mantras and exotic India that exicites the imagination of many within the US spiritual marketplace. Many “god-men” seem to know how to tap into that market, or that is, turn on the tap to cash in.

The historic success of Indian gurus in the US seems to have inspired a growing list of American wannabes that have taken on Indian names and titles.

Frank Jones from Brooklyn is now “god-man Adi Da,” Fred Lenz was called “Zen Master Rama,” a former New York housewife Joyce Green calls herself “Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati,” Mike Shoemaker became “Swami Chetananada” and Donald Waters became “Swami Kriyananda,” just to name a few.

Some of the “god-men” have turned out to have feet of clay. There have been several scandals and a few lawsuits regarding sexual misconduct and other allegations.

The old consumer adage “buyer beware” seems to be equally appropriate advice within the spiritual marketplace.

One Indian activist intent upon exposing “god-men” as simply con-men said, “It’s easy money — without any investment. As long as fear exists among people such god-men will thrive.”

For many yoga enthusiasts the practice is simply good exercise. But it seems for some it’s all about profits, ego and power. Some yoga schools and related businesses apparently are more concerned with maintaining their franchise and market share than the bodies of their clients, reports Business 2.0.

The article takes readers on a tour of prominent yoga entrepreneurs, who appear to be the antithesis of what you would expect, much more about the bottom line than something transcendent.

The yoga notables covered include seemingly status-driven celebrity name-dropper Bikram Choudhury, who likes flashy watches and John Abbot former banker and now the owner of “Yoga Journal” magazine, who seems intensely focused on his market share.

The article is an interesting look at how yoga has become little more than a business to make money for many of its advocates.

But another aspect of the yoga business is the use of the now popular and fashionable practice to proselytize. That is, some groups called “cults” or “cult-like” draw in adherents through an apparent kind of “bait and switch” process. These groups seem to feed off yoga as a vehicle to bring people into their subculture and/or mindset. And this process can be intensified through the use of “meditation,” often more like hypnotic trance induction, which makes students more malleable.

Yoga practitioners involved in this process may eventually become more than just exercise buffs. They can become devotees of some charismatic leader and/or sect.

This recruitment process is not uncommon. After all, yoga’s actual roots are religious not secular. Anyone interested in taking classes should check out the background of their school before becoming involved, to make sure it doesn’t have a hidden agenda.

Some groups, which have raised concerns are 3HO led by “Yogi Bhajan,” Integral Yoga International (IYI) and “Yogaville” founded by Swami Satchidananda, Dahn Hak Tao “Healing Society” led by “Master Lee” and a Patanjali Yoga Shala studio in Manhattan run by teacher Eddie Stern.

Swami Satchidananda died over this past weekend in India from natural causes. The guru, who was 87, suffered from high blood pressure and died in intensive care due to internal bleeding. An American citizen, his body is being flown back to the United States for internment within a prepared tomb at his ashram in Virginia.

Satchidananda came from India to the United States in the 60s. He eventually established his first yoga school in New York during 1966. The guru became a US citizen ten years later. The chain of schools he founded would later be known as “Integral Yoga International” (IYI).

Various celebrities were once involved with Satchidananda at one time or another, such as actors Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, artist Peter Max, diet doctor Dean Ornish and singer-songwriter Carole King. It was his devotee “Karuna” (Carole King) in 1978 who gave Satchidananda hundreds of acres in western Connecticut, which he sold in 1979 to buy land near Buckingham, Virginia that was used to create his own ashram called “Yogaville.” Yogaville became a compound for the swami’s most devoted followers and eventually the site of the so-called “Lotus Shrine” dedicated in 1986.

However, contrary to the swami’s supposed status as a celibate “Hindu monk”and despite the requirement that many of his devotees not marry and refrain from sex, Satchidananda was plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct. In 1991 numerous female followers stated that he had used his role as their spiritual mentor to exploit them sexually. One of Satchidananda’s former personal secretaries and an alleged victim said, “I feel betrayed.”

After the allegations became public many devotees abandoned Satchidananda and hundreds of students left IYI schools, but the swami never admitted any wrongdoing. He instead said, “Don’t judge me, I am your guru. If you choose to believe it you can leave right now. Or, if you have faith, you can stay and continue in my service.”

Another scandal more recently rocked IYI and Yogaville in 1999. A young woman attending a “30 day program” at the ashram suddenly quit law school, dropped her fiancée and married a monk there; who was 30 years, her senior. The woman’s distraught family said she was “brainwashed.” That family later detailed their allegations publicly.

According to the guru’s ardent followers Satchidananda was “one of the most revered living Yoga Masters of our time.” However, for many he was simply a “cult leader” who left behind a legacy of personal pain. His death will no doubt create a vacuum within IYI and Yogaville. Like many cult figures Satchidananda drew followers through his personal charisma, IYI and Yogaville were largely defined by his personality.

Satchidananda also drew in millions of dollars during his long career as a guru, which was used to create a tangible legacy that includes real estate holdings and other assets. This residue of accumulated material wealth will no doubt prompt someone to eventually fill the organizational vacuum created by his death.