An easy way to explain the history of the Ishaya order is to first acknowledge two distinct groups each with a different basic function.
The Ancient Ishayas
The first group is a very ancient group of enlightened monks who have been preserving the teaching of Ascension for about 2,000 years. Their existence is shrouded in mystery and cannot be proven to satisfaction. They claim to have been founded by the Apostle John who after writing the book of Revelations traveled to the Himalayan Mountains following with a group of his students. Following instructions from Christ whom they call Isha, John found and met with the masters who taught Jesus. It was there that he established a monastery and has been guiding the teaching and the evolution of humanity ever since. It was foreseen that what was taught at that time would become distorted and of little use for helping people evolve. His mission was to preserve the teachings of Ascension until the time was right to release them again into the world.
(MSI the modern day founder of Ascension was fully aware of how incredible his story sounded and never required us to believe anything that he said. He would say, “Ascension works whether you believe in it or not.” There is no way to prove the existence of the Ishayas, as of now no one has found the Ishaya Monastery, at least no one who has returned to talk about it. It is said that the Himalayan Mountains harbors many monasteries that are filled with enlightened beings. They are evolved enough that if you walked by their monastery and they did not want you to see it, you would not see it.
This story can be very frustrating to many people who find it hard to accept such a story without question. Ultimately, there is nothing we can say to make you believe, nor do we want to try and make you believe it. In my opinion, any thinking person will naturally question it. Before having my own inner knowing I, like many other teachers and students of Ascension, came to terms with the idea that it could have been a total lie. We looked at our lives and judged MSI and Ascension by its fruit. My life has been totally transformed for the better I have more peace, love and happiness in my life then I ever imagined and it continues to grow.
I am grateful for the story of the Ancient Ishayas because it is what initially attracted me (and many others) to Ascension. Now that I have benefited so abundantly from the teachings I have very little use for the story, true or false. This is why I say there are two groups of Ishayas the ancient Ishayas which remain to be seen by the public and the Modern-day Ishayas which were founded by MSI.)
MSI (short for Maharishi Sadashiva Isham) from the United States is the one who introduced the teachings of Ascension to the world. MSI was, from an early age, drawn to spirituality. He met his Teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1970 and at 20 years old became a TM (Transcendental Meditation) teacher. He remained a TM teacher living in Iowa until 1987 when his life “fell apart”. He lost his business and was divorced within a three month period. Disenchanted with the rules surrounding TM and taking his current life situation as a sign to do something different he went on a spiritual quest.
This quest led him to India where he claims to have met an Ishaya monk who as it turned out, was looking for him. This Ishaya took MSI back to the monastery, high in the Himalayan Mountains, where he learned about the Ishayas and gained a high level of enlightenment. He was told of his mission to go back out in the world to share what he had learned. After about 18 months at the monastery, MSI returned to the United States to share Ascension with all who would listen.
He first settled in North Carolina where after some time he gathered a few people who wanted to learn more than the initial techniques. He then conducted the first Ascension Teacher Training course. The small group of people traveled westward and finally ended up in Seattle, Washington. This is where I joined the story.
When I learned to Ascend in 1995 there were three other teachers besides MSI. MSI had just published four of his books and had gathered a group of about 35 students who were ready to attend a Consciousness Training course that was to be held in Fiji. I was in Hawaii at the time and decided that I wanted to dive deeper into these teachings so I traveled to Seattle to “check things out.”
I first wanted to make sure that it was not a cult. Once I was sure that MSI was not interested in taking from anyone I decided to go to the Consciousness Training course in Fiji. There were other factors that influenced this decision. Not only did I feel that MSI was not interested in taking from anyone, I also noticed that he had a level of peace and clarity that I had never experienced before. I wanted to learn from him, I wanted to know what he knew, I wanted the secret to his peace. As I got to know him more I found him filled with compassion, joy and love.
In December of 1995 we all went to Fiji for 6 months when we returned we were teachers of Ascension and Ishaya monks. We soon found a 40 acre property in North Carolina and with 30 teachers we quickly grew to about 200 people living, teaching and growing together on this property that we called the Academy.
For several years we all lived at the Academy and traveled to teach courses in different parts of the world only to return again to the support of the group. Over time the need arouse to have teachers who lived in the communities and so we formed centers in places other than North Carolina. MSI dropped his body in August of 1997 since then many teachers have started centers and academies of their own. Now there are many centers and teachers all over the world, all with their different flavors and approaches to evolving.
Although our opinions may differ concerning what the easiest and most efficient way to evolve is, (an ancient argument amongst Teachers and Sages from all times) we all agree that the underlying Truth is that we are all made up of Consciousness or Spirit. At that level of Reality we can see the Truth that we are all Eternally ONE. With this realization comes the knowledge that we are already FREE and that suffering is our own creation (based on faulty programming) which we can end at any moment. Realizing this for ourselves and then helping others to realize this directly as their own experience and more importantly, learning to maintain that awareness in every moment is what the Ishayas are committed to.