I offer my review to add a bit of balance and perhaps a bit deeper look into the Temple of the Way of Light. I offer my perspective as someone who has experience with many of the Temple’s offerings (the 12 day retreat, monthlong, three week, and integration coaching) and as someone who is trained as a psychotherapist utilizing modalities such as somatic psychotherapy (often used in the treatment of trauma), depth psychology (Jung), mindfulness, the Work of Byron Katie, and numerous other east / west practices. I also offer my perspective as someone who has experienced other retreat centers, who has sat in more than 50 ayahuasca ceremonies, and who has worked and dieted plants (aka isolation plant dietas) with respected Ayahuasqueros in the Shipibo tradition and a Tobaquero.
What I can share about the Temple:
From a medicine and healing perspective, the Temple does a good job of maintaining a safe healing environment and highly skillful healers for deep healing experiences. This said, although I have not personally experienced this, I have heard from two other guests who now work at other centers in Peru and an apprenticing medicine healer that they experienced the dark side of the shamanic world while at the Temple. There is an underculture to shamanic work that is not apparent to the layman but that people who spend time in the medicine world come to know of — a world where shamans psychically attack other shamans out of jealousy or other dark motives. I have heard that there were incidences of this at the Temple yet I haven’t personally experienced this there. On a whole, I believe the Temple does a good job of maintaining a safe environment and the balance of masculine and feminine healers is somewhat unique to the Temple.
As for the accommodations and food, I will leave that for others to comment on. My primary concern is the safety and well-being of guests and to me the safety of the healing environment and the healers, and the knowledge, training, and experience of the facilitators and staff is most important.
I will say that in my several years of attending the Temple and communicating with the integration team and founder, Matthew, I did have some experiences that brought concern and warrant noting.
Ayahuasca and integration coaching are yet unregulated fields. I.e. in the field of psychotherapy and coaching there are ethics that form the basis of the work. For example, all therapists and many coaches undergo training on the ethics of confidentiality. They understand that confidentiality is the foundation of building relationships founded on trust and they understand that a breech in client confidentiality is not only serious grounds for disciplinary action but also potentially harmful to the wellbeing of a client and certainly harmful to the client / therapist or coach relationship. That said, during my relationship with the Temple, they breeched confidentiality. None of the facilitators in the duration that I had a relationship with the temple had therapy backgrounds, and indeed the head of Integration Dr, Tanya Mate (daughter in law to Dr. Gabor Mate) is not a therapist and has no formal therapeutic background nor do the founders. Nevertheless, it seemed that within the organization they speak of confidentiality but were not actually aware of what that means. Indeed, on two separate visits to the temple one facilitator spoke ill of a prior high profile guest thereby breaking the prior guest’s confidentiality. I too had a personal experience in which the Temple breeched my confidentiality and I brought this and other concerns to their attention. This is an important point as with healthcare there are HIPAA guidelines around how information must be held and stored and in the therapy realm there are ethical guidelines around how information is held and shared. Yet, at the Temple there seems to be a lack of understanding of what confidentiality entails and the practice of confidentiality. This is likely true of most retreat centers which have been established and staffed by unlicensed individuals who have had no formal training in the practice of holding confidentiality and the ramifications of what that means. Yet, I share this information because the Temple speaks of confidentiality and has guests agree to uphold confidentiality yet has in my experience failed to do so themselves and failed in my opinion to fully grasp the gravity of such an error.
I too would say that in my communications with the Temple, I have found what others have noted that the founder, Matthew, is a businessman and that he and the communication of the Temple hasn’t always been transparent and forthright. At an extreme, I might say it has bordered on false advertising and dishonesty. For example, the temple promoted a “new” two week program and marketed it on their website as such. In reality, guests including myself arrived to discover that they were merely joining a monthlong program half way through that the Temple was not able to fully sell out. There was no actual difference in program between the month and the two week only in duration. There were many complaints from the participants as the joining half way through created a disjointed experience for both the monthlong and two week participants.
Lastly, I will add that while it is easy while influenced by medicine to put the Temple staff on a pedestal (or conversely to project negatively onto them), they are indeed human beings capable of the same fallibility of all human beings — no better. No worse. Just human. To expect otherwise or to expect that the Temple will be above any unintentional hurt or pain in your journey may be a set up for disappointment. As, I believe that the Temple does their best yet at times that means they have and do too unintentionally harm as all humans do until they no longer do.