On Connective Disconnect

Nicole Hartley Bradford
5 min readOct 12, 2020


The woman I called “Guruji” from 1996 until… I dont quite know when, has died.

I wonder if she would want people to say that she has “passed.” That’s the term I remember her insisting on us using, rather than “died.” I remember feeling angry about the use of that term, though I can only clearly see that I felt that way, now. I felt angry because my dear father had died, (a few years before I encountered her), and the excruciating pain of his loss meant, for me, that it was NOT “passing” that he had done. Calling it “passing” somehow created a context in which I had to hide my grief, which was so strong in me. I had such desire to feel it, honour it, and have others Be With me while this happened. None of this was avaialable to me while I was in her world.

This speaks to how it came to be that, despite countless days and hours happlily learning many important things “at her feet,” literally and metaphorically, I made my way out of her world.

I did this after being told too many times, when other emotions arose, that “my ego had come up” and that I needed to see to this by going away… to meditate. While I understand that disconnection is reconciled by reconnection, and that one way to reconnect is alone, internally, I also assert, (which I couldn’t do, then), that connection can also be reconciled by… connection.

Since leaving her world, I have worked hard to reconcile myself with that disconnective impulse, which I now think of as “spiritual bypassing,” in myself and in others. I define spiritual bypassing as a scenario in which a perceived authority, such as a “more spritirual person” (or internal part of myself) disconnects from another “less spiritual person,” (or part of myself) as an unconscious strategy for avoiding their own emotional pain. I have learned from my own experience of being that “authority,” in some scenarios, that sometimes there can also be a numbness to my feelings, while I reactively do or say what has been done or said to me in the past, which is to say, some version of “go away.”

It is easy to judge disconnective actions and words as “unspiritual” or “irresponsible.” Today, I see them simply, gloriously as HUMAN: we do it because hurting, emotionally, HURTS, and we are very new at handling triggers to our emotions effectively. In a convoluted way, this disconnective behaviour comes from the deep human need to be connected, and it’s as if we can try to bring connection about by leaving the other person responsible for their own connecting, even if what happens between us is not connection.

This woman, Guruji’s effect in my life has been extraordinary. Through her I experienced myself, on many occasions, as a Being full of life force; life force that I could amplify, move around in me and share with others. I experienced my body, in flow, under the subtle influences of this life force, which occurred to me as an experience of remembering something that had given me joy as a child, which I had hitherto lost. Through her I found a husband, a step dad for my two sons, the father of my two daughters, and experienced all that this has implied. Through her I experienced many other kinds of attentive interest from mother figures and spiritual family, including through the mother-in-law I gained, and I had the experience of easing my own mother’s angst about me.

Through all of this, I eventually found my life’s calling.

The tendrils of her effects reach deep, deep, deep, into the lives of my husband’s family, especially; and it is plain to me, today, to see that there has been, to my surprise, more connectivity than separation, after all, despite there being yet so much disconnect, most notable between he and I. We separated in 2011.

Many of Guruji’s former devotees have declared her a fraud, while others continue in devotion. (I wonder if anyone has said to another, “your ego came up”…?) There have been deep and painful separations.

From my perspective, today, after I happened to have had an Emotional Healing Process whereby I reconnected with my ability to HAVE desire (the root of all ego?!), I can’t help but see us ALL as a glorious interwoven tapestry of humans, more or less connected, experiencing benefit and detriment.

It is all so…ALIVE.

I maintain that the human tendancy to shut down, push away and cause disconnect in the face of unpleasant feelings remains a human “fault.” I also maintain that since we learned to do this, by example, during our innocent years, I don’t think of it as OUR fault. Yet there is responsibility to be taken, if beneficial reconnection is to occur. If not by me, then by who? If not by you, then by who?

This moring I reached out to my ex-mother-in-law, who was one of Guruji’s foremost disciples. Guruji’s death, I am guessing, may have impacted her, beneficially or detrimentally, and I have a desire (which I am honouring) to Be With her, as whatever ripple-effects occur. I also reached out to my wasband (past tense for husband). For the first time since our courtship almost 20 years ago, I have the desire to tell him, “I want to be your friend.”

Was this woman an authentic Guru? A “dispeller of darkness”? A connector of spiritual family, worthy of devotion by a worldwide following? Was she a fraud, a perpetrator of harm, a selfish narcissist, a severer of connection?

My guess is yes, to ALL of the above, just as I am, in moments, each of these things, which will inevitably add up, upon my death, to a balance… which may be more or less connective.

Whatever the true balance of it all, this woman lived, and now she is dead. Her legacy continues for a time. Which of the effects continue in my life are, largely, up to me.

May I affect the lives of others in ways that empower responsibility, connection, possibility, transformation, mutual benefit and high level fun. Despite the fact that my “ego” will come up, and that I may thus perpetuate, at times, disconnect, may I hold faith that reconnection is always possible. Despite that some may continue to perceive me as a severer of connection, may I make the most of this life, this one glorious life, according to my calling and my desire.

Jai, Guru!



Nicole Hartley Bradford

Nicole is a catalyst on the “Help Gaia’s Risky Human Experiment Succeed” Team.