Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sai Baba's Stateside Support

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

The Hindustan Times is practically wetting themselves over a Sai Baba revival meeting held by devotees in Atlanta last week. A lot of hubbub over a two-hour meeting if you asked us. But a visible Sai Baba presence in the U.S. is a rarity, and we imagine his promoters would like to see more of it.

But there are those pesky allegations of sexual misconduct in the way—an intractable problem that Amma doesn't seem to have. What's a kid-diddling guru to do? Having a couple of prominent head shrinkers witnessing for you is a good place to start. Psychologist Dr. Philip Gosselin and psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Sandweis are both longtime devotees of Sai Baba's with a lot of accolades attached to their names, according to the paper. And apparently, they are unwilling or unable to believe that their guru may be in need of their services as they both testified to his supposed spiritual greatness.

Critical thinking flies right out the window like ether fumes in a meth lab when there's any supposed "divinity" involved. Sai Baba's sway seems uncanny, having academics in his back pocket. But rather than there being anything actually real about his divinity, it's merely the need of his Saibabatons to feel special that seems to be at work here. It's a mechanism we've observed around other bigtime gurus. Being with God and thinking that God likes you is the ultimate recognition and personal verification. Sai Baba has been able to work this dynamic, finding people who want to believe in his divinity and then giving it to them in the form of sucking up to them. How can one refuse a fawning deity?

Fortunately, the U.S. is already inundated with divine beings competing for that small slice of the religious community that accepts them. And as unlikely as it seems to us, even if Sai Baba has never diddled a single teen's ding-dong, the fact that people said he did probably scotches any shot at gaining traction here. We are living in the tabloid era now, and all the divinity in the universe isn't going to save anybody from that.

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