Guruphiliac: December 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sri Sri's Crayola Diplomacy

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Like a child playing connect-the-dots with a crayon, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar thinks he's bringing peace to the various ethnic conflicts of South Asia:
[Sri Sri] Ravi Shankar said it would be a 'great disappointment' to the youths of India's northeast if the games were not held in a peaceful environment.

Stating that games and sports helped to keep people healthy and free from depression, he said: 'Holding the games without the cooperation of ULFA will create fear and anxiety among participants and deprive the already marginalized people of the region a sporting mega event.'

Ravi Shankar also urged ULFA leaders to adopt democratic and non-violent means to resolve their problems.
We've been known to have a flair for the obvious, but even we blanch in the face of the mighty Sri Sri's command of the redundant overstatement.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Joy To The World, Maharishi-Style

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

As if it's going to make a fly's fart worth of a difference, the Maharishi is gifting a dozen lucky countries with their own Vedic geek squads:
In Maharishi's aspiration to bless the world from the ancient Indian heritage—the Vedic Heritage—this Christmas he has planned for the immediate arrival of Vedic Pandits in twelve countries:

1. Latvia 2. Finland 3. Switzerland 4. Bosnia Herzegovina 5. Norway 6. Denmark 7. Ireland 8. Bulgaria 9. Netherland Antilles 10. Guyana 11. Trinidad and Tobago 12. Paraguay
And in a parallel development, a couple of his rich patsies are offering scholarships to learn the fine art of ass-bouncing:
Full scholarships continue to be available from the Howard and Alice Settle Foundation to individuals who would like to learn Yogic Flying and who will commit to join the Invincible America Course for one year.
So that's morons chanting ancient gibberish like it was rocket science and ninnies thinking their bruised butts are creating an effect other than the soreness in their asses.

Those are gifts that keep on giving... material for this blog. Unfortunately, that's just about all they're worth outside the continuing self-aggrandizement of a delusional and exceptionally grandiose old nutbag.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Little Piggy Face Of Oneness

File under: Satscams and Gurus Clockin' Dollars

Kingpin delusion dealer Kalki "The Kracki" Bhagavan steps up the supply to his addicts:
Dear Oneness Deeksha Givers,


It gives me utmost joy to inform you of the most recent divine phenomenon that has taken birth here in the Oneness University. This phenomenon, aptly named the ‘Oneness Blessing’ issues forth from the Srimurthi (portrait) of Sri Amma Bhagavan, which is impregnated with their divine consciousness. Sri Amma Bhagavan have now taken a very special sankalpa (intent) that their Srimurthi transfer a powerful blessing to people that would awaken them to Oneness.

In accordance with their divine will, Deeksha givers pray and gently touch the Srimurthi either at the feet or hands of Sri Amma Bhagavan and ask for a ‘Oneness Blessing.’ In most cases the blessing is experienced as powerful electric shocks that almost knock down the person or as strong vibrations flowing through the body. The blessing could also be experienced in several other ways like a physical deeksha process (much the same as what is generally felt after receiving a strong Deeksha). In almost all the cases so far, receiving the ‘Oneness Blessing’ from Sri Amma Bhagavan has immediately produced a shift in consciousness culminating in an altered state that is more or less permanent. Other results include mystical insights and a continuous ongoing Deeksha process within that takes you higher and higher towards love and joy.

We dasas would therefore humbly recommend that all Oneness Deeksha givers receive this great blessing directly from Sri Amma Bhagavan in your own homes daily. The blessing could ideally be taken four times a day i.e. 6:30 a.m., 12:00 noon, 6:30 p.m. and 12:00 midnight. The reason we are fixing up these timings is that when all deeksha givers pray and receive the blessing at the same time in their respective countries, the blessing comes forth very powerfully, since it becomes like a collective phenomenon that is happening at that time. This would also profoundly affect your own countries in a big way. The effects of receiving the ‘Oneness Blessing’ at the same time is clearly seen in the case of Indian Deeksha givers already. In case of being unable to receive the blessing all four times a day, please join whenever possible; at least two times a day.

At these times of the day, you could sit before the portrait of Sri Amma Bhagavan and invoke their divine presence. Having invoked their presence, you could develop a personal communion with them in your hearts and ask Sri Amma Bhagavan to give you the Oneness Blessing and awaken you to Oneness. In case you are experiencing some emotional disturbances some day owing to the charge in your emotions, you could pray that the charge in the emotion be removed and that you are awakened to Oneness.

Having prayed thus, gently touch the feet or the hands of Sri Amma Bhagavan and wait for some time with your hands on the srimurthi for the blessing to flow through (about a minute or more). You could first touch Sri Amma and then move on to touch Sri Bhagavan or vice-versa or you could choose to place your hands on both of their feet/hands simultaneously; please follow whatever comes to you naturally. Having received the blessing thus, you could thank Sri Amma Bhagavan and if possible move into shavasan and relax for some time. This blessing would come forth from all the portraits of Sri Amma Bhagavan, including the Sri Amma Bhagavan medallions/pendants.

We would be very happy to receive a feedback of your experiences with the ‘Oneness Blessing’
Because involving you in giving us feedback strengthens the delusions we are planting in your mind. We'd also be very happy to receive your dollars for our Hollywood feature film studio, err... efforts to spread our love all over the planet.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Maharishi's Greed Puts Hole In Town

File under: The Siddhi of PR

The greedy Maharishi wants a cool 10 million for the hotel on Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford, Connecticut:
Today, its owner is marketing the vacant, decaying structure as worth $10 million - but there are no takers. Hartford's mayor says the building should be torn down.

The 12-story hotel, empty for a dozen years, has been a troubling obstacle for those who see the building as part of a crucial gateway to the city. The sale price set by the Maharishi School of Vedic Sciences Inc., its owner since 1995, has been too high to make any redevelopment, hotel or otherwise, financially possible, observers say.
A real estate developer trying to get the project off the ground came away with this impression:
"The Maharishi is impossible to deal with," said David Ong, president of Acquest Realty Advisors Inc., of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which wanted to resurrect the building as a hotel in 2000. "We were never able to make a deal that made economic sense."

"At the end of the day," Ong said, "they are land speculators."
And they've already lost millions on quite a few other land deals, so the money-mad Maharishi is holding on with his manicured fingernails to any chance to recoup. The real losers: the people of Hartford, who the Maharishi doesn't give an apparent damn about outside of their utility as potential marks in his land scams.

Have a merry TM™ Christmas, Hartford!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lama Film Is Lame

File under: Gurus on the Screen

The Berkeley Daily Planet wasn't very impressed with Leslie Ann Patten's Words of My Perfect Teacher:
There are few things more nauseating than self-satisfied white westerners opining on the virtues of eastern religions and philosophies. Too often the opiner has been disproportionately impressed by a dollar-book summary of a major religion’s tenets and has taken that grain of truth and blown it up into a mountain of simplistic misinterpretations. Words of My Perfect Teacher suffers greatly from this malaise.

Reviewer Justin DeFreitas even frames the whole space-daddy phenomenon for us:
One of the first and seemingly most obvious of his teachings is the danger of idolatry, of looking upon a teacher as an infallible and unfailingly wise creature who can bestow wisdom upon his disciples like a gift. Perhaps we’re seeing these students at too early a stage in their studies, but this is one lesson they seem to have trouble learning. Throughout the film they persist in this indulgence, viewing Khyentse Norbu as an all-knowing, all-seeing master of their fates. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a glance from Khyentse Norbu is just a glance, and sometimes a guru who appears lost in an airport is truly just a man lost in an airport. No matter, Khyentse Norbu’s disciples prefer to treat him like a human Rorschach test, taking his every glance and gesture as a great lesson to be learned and every all-too-human error as a mysterious and profound teaching moment—though they can never quite convey to us precisely what they have learned.
A tip of the turban for Justin's insightful employment of sorely-needed critical thinking. It's a dead-on rendering of everything wrong with gurudom. Good gurus seem to attract it as much as the bad, all this in spite of their best efforts to mitigate the space-daddy effect. The bad gurus just grow it like a fungus in the minds of their marks, effectively putting a layer of mystifanatical nonsense between them and the spiritual understanding they believe they're paying for.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ramdev Gets Rapped By Health Dept.

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Good old rancorous Swami Ramdev is getting heat from India's Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss:
The Health Ministry is proposing amendments to the Drugs and Magical Remedies Act which makes it illegal to advertise for invalidated cures by allopathic or alternatives. The Ministry believes that claims made by various yoga gurus are not backed by authentic medical history, investigations and proofs.
Oops! No more cancer and AIDS miracle cure claims. It sounds like the Swami needs to find a higher-grade of bull balls for his next batch of "medicines."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Varieties Of Space-Daddies

File under: Gurubusting

We've told you before, and this won't be the last time you'll hear it from us: the commenters here rock! There is just so much good information in the comments sections of this blog that it makes us positively giddy. (The 10" of snow on the ground at Guruphiliac HQ may have something to do with that as well.)

Today, David "The Blade" drops his science about space-daddies and mommies, a term we coined to describe the make-it-all-ok with a [insert your guru's shtick here, be it a look, gaze, glance, hug, squeeze or whatever other nonsense they've come up with]-type gurus that are making the rounds in the world today:
The Blade's Space-Daddy/Mommy Glossary with Examples

Space-Daddy Explicator:
Makes it pretty clear that he is to be your space-daddy, and if you know what's good for you, you'll be his little chela.

Examples: Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, Sai Baba, Sri Chinmoy, ...

Space-Daddy Silent Cultivator:
Never claims space-daddihood explicitly, but cultivates it through his organisation

Example: Maharishi, [Ed.note: And Sri Sri!]

Space-Daddy Repudiator-Cultivator:
Explicitly tells you not to make him a space-daddy, then makes himself a space-daddy by cultivating it through his life and organization, just like the silent cultivator.

Example: J. Krishnamurti, [Ed.note: And Swami Nithyananda.]

The above show people whom I believe fit decisively into those three categories. Other people skirt the categories, in certain aspects or times behaving as if they belong to one category, then moving into another category in another aspect or time.

Most space-daddies these days (except the extreme explicators) have some element of 'repudiation'. If you are getting into the game, this is important to know because many people think that when they hear a little repudiation of space-daddihood from their space-daddy, that he isn't a space-daddy. Don't be overly impressed when you hear something like 'You mustn't put me up on a pedestal. You must think for yourself'. Or credit being given to your own nervous system or Guru Dev. Think again! Think like a woman thinks when she hears 'I don't go after women for their bodies'.

The lower down they are in those categories, the deeper is the denial of the followers that the person they are following a space-daddy.
Now we have a taxonomy of space-daddies & mommies. As soon as we read the description of the space-daddy repudiator-cultivator, Swami Nithyananda's noble, yet somewhat comically stereotypical Hindu visage jumped into view. A perfect example of what "The Blade" has shared with us today.

So today the turban comes off so we can take the dust of the feet of "The Blade".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Vishwananda Hasn't Charmed Everyone

File under: Gurubusting

While we may have been mildly charmed when Swami Vishwananda came to town, this guy is apparently miffed by the Swami's claim that he is the reincarnation of Paramhamsa Yogananda:
It's an interesting fact how Vishwananda is falling in[to] the trap of proclaiming himself [to be] Yogananda reincarnated while [Yogananda's gurus] give proof [that] Yogananda commercializ[ed] the Kriya discipline, [having] made three unauthorized big changes and thus became the champion and the leader of the modified Kriya.
We like it, criticizing a guru based on what he allegedly did in a past life. This could open up a whole new avenue for us...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sri Sri's PR Machine: Pimping & Recruiting

An example of AoL flackery employed as hard news, this time at (including a few interpolations by us):
Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who arrived in the country yesterday, seems to have the answer to many questions on life and the concept of inner peace.
All answers are available for sale at your nearest AoL center.
He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which is said to be the world's largest NGO, with representation in 156 countries.
Matched only in size by our guru's lust for fame.
"What you cannot win with a stick, you can win with love," he told the Sunday Nation. "What you cannot win with guns, you can win through love."
And what you can't win through love can be bought at an AoL center near you.
"The most powerful thing in the world is love - for we can win the hearts of people through love."
My love of name and fame is all that is behind these ridiculously simplistic platitudes.
"This is exactly why the Art of Living courses are important to every individual, regardless of their background or religious affiliation," a devotee, Begun Rishi Nityapragya, told the Sunday Nation before the guru's arrival.
Everyone is a potential mark to us.
"(Ours) is not a religion or a cult."
Ours is a multinational business operating under cover of NGO status.
"In fact, if you are a Christian, it makes you an even better Christian; and if you are a Muslim, you become a more devout Muslim."
Poorer, too.
In a flowing robe, long hair and a flowing beard and with disarming warmth and an almost permanent smile, Rishi had a lot of praise for the Art of Living courses.
Watch me play God as I sell you my snake oil.

We tip our turban to the AoL flacks, who seem to be quite adept at planting their fictions in the news as the news. We see a bright future for all of them as government bullshitters spinmeisters one day.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cohen's Best Come Back To Haunt Him

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Gurus Clockin' Dollars

Several people have steered us toward the What Enlightenment? blog and the latest brouhaha over enlightened asshole Andrew Cohen's penchant for chiseling:
The author of this piece, Jane O'Neil, is a former close student of Andrew Cohen. It was her devotion to him and her contribution of $2 Million that made possible the purchase of Foxhollow, Cohen's residence and the headquarters of EnlightenNext in Lenox, Massachusetts. After she left the group, Andrew Cohen betrayed his promise to her to keep her contribution confidential by publicly discussing it while severely disparaging her for leaving him.
Then, the former editor of Cohen's own magazine sprinkles sulfuric acid on the wound:
The principal factor in my own decision to undertake a real reckoning with the facts and implications of my involvement with Andrew was the ever-expanding reservoir of evidence (in my own often repressed experience) that his conduct and underlying motivations are in reality far different from his own understanding of them, and that his capacity to comprehend their probable origins and tangible effects is, shall we say, less than adequate.

A wonderful opportunity has presented itself to Andrew Cohen. If he can realize that the strife is of his own making rather than only being the fault of what he imagines to be his former students' inadequacies, he would be vaulted much closer to actually being qualified to wear the mantle he snaked by misinterpreting a few misunderstood words by his guru.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Vishwananda's Low-Key Style Surprises

File under: Satsang Report

A few weeks back we went to see Swami Vishwananda, who some claim to be the reincarnation of Paramhamsa Yogananda. He's also alleged to be a former acolyte of Sai Baba and an up-and-coming space-daddy in the States. We expected this review to be like snagging trout in a puddle, but it turns out that the Swami is actually quite low-key. We even found him endearing at times. Who'da thunk that? It certainly caught us by surprise.

But there were still plenty of the elements – like miracle-mongering – to reveal the affair to be a space-daddy baby recruitment drive. (We were tipped off as soon as we saw that the ushers were wearing the white, loose-fitting clothing favored by space-daddy babies.)

The event was well-attended by Santa Fe's 40+ New Age™ consumer crowd, filling the medium-sized ex-Catholic chapel that's now a meeting hall adjacent to a museum. Missing were the younger yoga crowd, many of them Ammabots and not permeable to alternate space-parenting. After lots of singing, a short talk that was very soft on content, and then more singing, Swami Vishwananda began to receive people into his well-practiced, beneficent gaze.

We didn't wait for the darshan as it looked like it was going to be hours until they got to our row. One of the white-garbed ones, an attractive and seemingly sharp devotee from Los Angeles, offered to help us cut in line when we asked her about the swami's entourage (including band, he rolls about 30 deep), but we decided to take a pass and headed home.

All in all, not so horrible, yet not so great. We'll give Vishwananda two out of five turbans.

The Sweet: The kirtan band. With guitar and bass, they were sporting a shade of rock, but augmented by good traditional instrumentation and skilled South-Asian musicians (from the U.K.), with one of them being a dead-ringer for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The lead singer tried to whip the crowd into a devotional fervor, at first with not much success. But then, things seemed to pick up of their own accord. We have to admit being swept up a little bit ourselves at times. And at one point, they were sounding like David Bowie's band playing "Memory of a Free Festival" from Space Oddity, the one record we'd take on a desert isle.

Also mostly good was the Swami himself. There were a number of things we liked about his self-presentation. Like when he walked into the room, it was with little fanfare. He just strode right up the middle of the room in a purple long-shirt and sat on the floor in front of the stage. This is certainly noteworthy, as most of the space-daddies like to place themselves on a dais of some kind, above the poor saps who've come to see them. This actually presented a problem for those of us in the back who wanted to gaze upon the man, but Swami Vishwananda seemed to care about people seeing him as a person as much as a God. We were quite impressed with this gesture.

Swami likes to sing, and did so in a slightly-off key but endearing way that even seemed to get through the tarry-inkiness of our heart. We don't normally go in for the kirtan thing, but the fact of the swami's singing combined with the expert accompaniment resulted in a pleasant experience for us.

The Sad: The Swami's speech. It pretty much blew. It could be somewhat due to ESL issues, but the content wasn't anything more than the pabulum-like platitudes that are a space-daddy's stock-in-trade. He tried to empathize the idea of "conquering the mind," but this only reveals his own ignorance of identity dynamics and any real understanding of what's going on in the shakti-lusting heads of the space-daddy babies around him. But the pretty smile obliterates any need to actually know anything, and so the Swami blunders on, lighting the way with his teeth.

Also not good was the organization of the darshan itself. Higher-ups and friends got preference, and they were taking hours. Us local shlubs had to wait, and it was going to be a long time before they got to the pews in the rear. The white-garbed folk were offering cuts to those who asked, but that's just extending their institutional selfishness rather than coming up with a better solution to the problem.

The Fugly: The Swami's MC. First he comes on and starts name-dropping for the V.I.P.s in the room, mostly just higher-ups in their org. Then, he starts selling the books, pictures and DVDs for sale in the foyer. But when the clown opens up on the crowd with some bald-faced miracle-mongering, we knew the psych-ops had begun and our opinion of the Swami began to drop precipitously. It was only his low-key presentation and the estimable musical entertainment he provided that saved him from a total trashing here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Blade Hits The Bone

File under: Gurubusting

Just in case some of y'all haven't figured it out yet, this blog has an incredible complement of gurubusting pundits who post in the comments and on the discussion board. This morning, "David The Blade" cuts to the quick and drops some serious knowledge about the guru/chela dynamic:
In the typical guru-culture, a magical view of the guru's power is cultivated. It is AMAZING on the one hand, and very much seen as the guru him(r)self on the other. The truth is that it isn't that amazing, and the state of the 'chela' plays a huge part in it. It's ordinary, human internal processes that the guru may play a part in catalyzing. The kinds of experiment that Stuart proposes would prove that the chela's belief and expectation is playing an enormous part in this phenomenon that is called 'guru shakti'. The experiments will not be done (or made well-known) because the typical guru culture is not interested in this fact, because the very knowledge of that fact shifts the power in a way that is not wanted in that, excuse me, somewhat parent-child or even narcissistic-codependent way of life.
Stuart Resnick's experiment was as follows:
Set up a screen, so that such people can't tell whether or not [the guru is] behind it. See if they still feel strangely stimulated when they only think [the guru] might be there, as they do when [this guru is] actually there. Can they tell the difference between [the guru's] presence or absence if they can't see or hear or smell [him/her]?

So simple, huh? Doesn't require million dollar grants or white lab coats. A space-daddy/mommy like Gurumayi etc could set up this experiment so easily, and settle once and for all whether there's any truth to the devotee's claim that they can feel the guru's energy.

Yet strangely, the gurus never allow this simple experiment. Reasonable people can draw conclusions.
Reasonable people. Our collection of these is eminent. It's a value-add that makes this blog so much more than we'd ever be able to provide on our own.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Poor Kids Set To Walk: Sri Sri Is Building A University

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

He may not be the science graduate he claims to be, but Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Orissa in India for the construction of a new university:
The curricula of the university, to be named Sri Sri University of Art of Living, will be a blend of both traditional and modern.

Traditional subjects such as Ayurveda, yoga and spirituality will be taught along with emergent disciplines such as Basic Science, Medicine, Management, Information Technology, Media Studies, Biotechnology, Engineering, Aviation and Law.
We suggest adding the courses Avatardation 101, Satscamming 201 and Self-Aggrandizement 301 for those aspiring to follow in the footsteps of their university's namesake.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The LAT Looks At Guru "Magic"

File under: The Siddhi of PR

A few days back, the Los Angeles Times published an article which included an interview with Paul Ekman, who was apparently quite an asshole until he shook hands with the Dalai Lama:
The UC San Francisco psychology professor was as gnarly as an old oak, with a face hard-chiseled by a lifelong struggle with impulsive anger.

All that changed one spring day in 2000 after a brief exchange with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"He held my hands while we talked," Ekman recalled, "and I was filled with a sense of goodness and a unique total body sensation that I have no words to describe."
It's called being at the right place at the right time with the right person. The Governator's wife, Maria Shriver, has a better handle on the phenomenon:
"I think the Dalai Lama would say look within because it's in you, not someone else. It all comes down to whether you're open to being touched in your heart."
That's more like it. Paul was ready to pop, and the Dalai Lama gave his insides the excuse to do so. Just because Paul doesn't yet understand what happened doesn't mean he's not ultimately responsible for his own transformation.

It seems to be a human trait, that when one imagines they are in the presence of greatness, the space-daddy receptor gene kicks in. After that, all bets are off, because it's in the power of one's own mind where the real magic has always been.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Taking Money From The Poor: The AoL Way

A reader relates a sales pitch given while taking a course at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living org:
My AOL teacher once told me about a poor boy in Pune who desparately wanted to do the course. He did not have any money and saved for the course by walking 10 miles everyday to his school instead of taking a bus. The anecdote was meant to motivate us who were well-to-do by comparison but were cribbing about [the] Rs.1500 course fee.

During the entire course I could think of only two things: [the] passion and commitment of the boy to do the course and [the]meanness of [the] AOL teacher who had the heart to extract money from such a boy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mafu? More Like Phooey

File under: Wackadoo Gurus

Today, our new friend Cosmic Connie alerted us to the existence of Mafu, "an enlightened Master" who gets channelled by Swami Paramananda Saraswatti, aka ammagi. The cute amalgamation of the names "amma" and "magi" says all you need to know about this swami, who's hitting every New Age™ selling point there is while she attempts to pay lip service to Vedanta as well. That's sort of like taking a fat, juicy tenderloin steak into a vegan/raw foods establishment and asking to use their kitchen to make your dinner.

I suppose we could go on and on about how much of a nincompoop we find this person to be, but Connie has already got it covered:
It seems that originally the Swami was named Penny Torres, and she was once a mere housewife in Oregon. Who knows what profound hungers and longings caused her to embark upon the road not taken? (Well, actually, it’s the road frequently taken these days. And come to think of it, it’s not even the road that gets taken. It’s the people who give money to channelers.)

Perhaps Penny was motivated by the astonishing success story of another blonde channeling superstar, J.Z. Knight, famous oracle of the Ascended Master Ramtha®...

My guess is that Penny Torres knew a good thing when she saw it, and voila! Mafu was manifested. She gathered up a few folks who weren’t so crazy about J.Z. anymore, and a brand new cult…oh, I mean spiritual movement…was born. Judging from the fact that Penny/Swami/Mafu has conducted Darshans in such far-flung places as Maui (of course) and Australia, it would appear that she/he/it/they are making a pretty penny, so to speak, off of hungry seekers.
Make it completely unbelievable, and they will believe. This maxim of the New Age™ guru biz is a depressingly-telling characteristic of Vedic-based spiritual culture in the West. It allows for the existence and seemingly impossible success of the likes of Mafu and her blondie swami, both of whom surely have Shankara rolling in his grave.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Where Did Ching Hai Fly?

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Folks in Thailand are wondering where "Supreme Master" Ching Hai went. She was supposed to attend the closing ceremonies of her own conference at the Ambassador City Hotel in Jomtien, Thailand, but at the appointed time was a no-show, disappointing many of her devotees who no doubt had paid thousands of dollars to see her.

Cha-Ching Ching is a very popular sound and light pusher along the lines of the Sant Mat "masters." She had once tried to position herself as the enlightened Madonna of Asia, complete with cheesy video song performances. Noted for her expensive tastes in fashion and lifestyle, we'll note her for the usual guru propaganda which seeks to paint her as a veritable Quan Yin walking the Earth:
So it was inevitable that one day She would find the Master She had incessantly yearned for. That Master was the great Master Khuda Ji, who lived in seclusion deep in the Himalayas. Master Khuda Ji was four hundred and fifty years old when He initiated Supreme Master Ching Hai into the ancient art of meditation on the heavenly Sound and divine Light. He had remained patiently in His Himalayan abode waiting for Her. She would be His first and only disciple.
Another self-aggrandizing narcissist on a mission to pimp herself as a living deity, bringing home big bucks for her effort as the rich fight for some time (and photo ops) by her side. You can find worse gurus than Cha-Ching Ching in the world, but not by much.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Even Crazier Than Cooper

File under: Satscams

A former member of the Austin, TX deeksha scene describes exactly what "really" happens at Kalki Bhagavan's 21-day instant "enlightenment" seminars:
Dear Deeksha Receivers,

With this notice we are withdrawing from the deeksha community. For the sake of our spiritual integrity, we must go on record and declare ourselves to be completely disassociated from Bagahvan and all his activities. We have asked Sri Rani to take us off the deeksha givers list.

We now believe that Bagahvan's mission is to prevent man's ascension, not to facilitate it. While I was there for the 21 day retreat, one of the dasas told a story to the men's group about another dasa. He said that Bagahvan put a cap on his growth in consciousness because the dasa would be of more use to Bagahvan at that level. I heard this as a huge red flag at the time. This was one of the reasons that we always said a lot of other prayers before invoking deeksha. We wanted to do everything we could to see to it that we did no harm.

Later we learned that there was a shadow energy attached to the deeksha energy that did not belong. This was confirmed by a healer we respect and trust. Together we removed the shadow energy and for awhile believed that we were able to give deeksha without the shadow. That was the only way we could have continued to be involved at all. We asked to be connected to the highest God Source of the deeksha energy and that the truth of the deeksha energy be shown in its' original vibration. We thought we were as clean and safe as possible. Then problems began to develop. Working through spirit guides we learned that Bagahvan, despite what he says in public, really does want to be worshipped as God on earth. We were told that if you go through the 21 day program and do not accept Bagahvan as God on earth, you may start to have problems. Those individuals entering the 21 day program already at a very high level are at the greatest risk of interference.

For several years I have had my level of consciousness calibrated on the Dr. David Hawkins M.D. map of consciousness. Before going to India I decided to be calibrated so I would have a before and after calibration. I wanted to see what the effect of the 21 day retreat might be. I fully expected significant improvement. I was shocked to find that the calibration actually went down 10 points. When the healer was removing the shadow energy he found eight entities placed strategically for the purpose of limiting my consciousness. After the removal of the eight entities (all from India) my calibration returned to the higher level. Then I remembered the story about the dasa and realized that it was happening to some other participants as well. No one who's true mission it is to elevate the consciousness of mankind could ever limit the consciousness of a single human being. It is an abomination and the idea simply would never occur to him. There is no rationale or excuse that can explain it except that he is not what he says he is and is not really doing what he says he is doing.

We will continue to offer the Energy Transfer programs two nights a week and the Divine Spark Meditation on Sundays. We will continue to invoke the presence of God using the prayers we have used for several years now. We just won't be invoking deeksha anymore.
Meaning they'll just do some other made-up nonsense that looks just like deeksha, but with plenty of tinfoil hats around for protection against the Kracki's astral hit-squads.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why Ask Us When You've Got Sai Baba?

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

Today we received one of those "I lost everything, please help me" spams from "Raju frm [sic] India" with an interesting appeal at its close:
In the name of Sai Baba, pls. help me. I promise God (Baba) will help you.
This guy must lack access to the requisite pre-teen boys that would surely secure his grant from the Babaster himself. Besides, if we had $5000 lying around, we'd be in British Columbia flying to the top of snowy mountains in a helicopter.

Would anyone like to contribute to the Guruphiliac Canadian Mountain Holiday fund? We promise that Baba will help you, although we can't promise he won't help himself to your young male children as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

When A Baba Plays 'Daddy'

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

Guru Baba Balnath got caught with his hands in the cookie jar:
A court here Saturday remanded 'spiritual guru' Baba Balnath, arrested for the alleged sexual exploitation of girls in his orphanage, to 14 days judicial custody.

Three girls of the orphanage in Ghaziabad, in the outskirts of the national capital, had alleged before a TV news channel they were sexually exploited by Balnath.

The National Commission for Women said the charges were true.
No more sweets for you, naughty Baba!

Sri Sri Gets Pimped

File under: The Siddhi of PR

In last Friday's Washington Post, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gets a rave from a devotee we wouldn't mind meeting cute with. Too bad her head is definitely not in phase with her appearance:
I met "God" and "faith", neatly packaged into one man with flowing robes and long hair -- His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Please excuse us as we attempt to find out what happens when we look into the barrel of our handgun as we pull the trigger.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tilak Sells Nothing, And Yet Folks Are Still Buying

File under: Satscams

We were recently contacted by Connie Schmidt, a professional writer and critic of many things New Age™. Last week in her blog, Whirled Musings, she set her sights on Tilak, the Sri Lankan 'transmission' guru who was run out of New York City in the mid-90s after a critical article about him was published in New Yorker magazine.

Well... how soon they forget, because Tilak is back in business again in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and "blowing" up even bigger than before:
The big shtick seems to be his gift for blowing on people and making them see lights and colors. The cost of a Tilak "experience" varies, depending upon which Presentation, Retreat, Excursion, Portal or whatever is involved. (The Las Vegas workshop and birthday bash was listed at $875 a head, excluding air fare and accommodations.)
Ladies, take note. Tilak's other big shtick is making hay with multiple partners. He left a string of ladies behind in New York, and we hear he's rocking a new string in the West. But since he fits the image of the magic space daddy to a 'T', there's not much to stop him from fleecing many more needy seekers.

There's one born every minute... and Tilak knows this. So beware tall, dark men hiding miniature flashlights in their mouths who want to blow on you.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where I'mma Bhagocon Hides The Loot

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars and Satscams

Kalki Bhagavan and his name-stealing consort Amma are apparently quite the business-minded twosome, according to a comment made recently on this blog:
Great to see that someone understands that the Oneness Movement is fraud. You will be surprised to know that both Amma and Bhagavan are not as spiritual as you may expect. They are real business people and invest all the cash they receive from donations into their movies and music business in the U.S. and a software company also in the U.S.
We knew the Krackster was a failed businessman before he started up the satscam that now pulls in millions a month, but we didn't know he was also in the entertainment business here in the States.

We're putting the call out to anyone who can tell us exactly what the names of these businesses are and exactly what it is that they are selling. Tips will remain strictly confidential, so Dasas can rest assured that dropping the dime on their bosses will not get back to them via this blog.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Maharishi Effect

File under: Book Review

We were quite happy (about 6 months ago) to receive an advance copy of Geoff Gilpin's The Maharishi Effect to review for this blog. Unfortunately (and this may explain a lot to y'all), we only read books when we are flying on jet planes to distant locales, and we only get to fly a few times a year.

But since we flew to California for Thanksgiving this year, we finally had a chance to read the damn book. We came away quite happy to have shared a pleasant journey with a former/maybe-about-to-return adherent of the TM™ movement at their dilapidated little utopia known as Fairfield, Iowa.

It's basically the tale of an ex-TM™er exploring the questions he left behind when he left the movement. To do so, he moves back to Fairfield, meeting old friends who have realized varying degrees of success in their lives. Geoff is not at all unsympathetic to TM™ and it's leader, the Maharishi. In fact, he's rather leaning on their side for most of the book. But he does so with an unflinching eye for the decay (both physical and ideological) that has befallen the org in the time since he left, something a Kool-Aid drinking TM™er would never think of doing.

As to whether he gets his questions answered, that's hard to say. For a while we were worried Geoff was going to start drinking the Kool-Aid himself again, but his somewhat suffering wife seems to be just the anchor he needs to get in, figure it out and get out:
[Geoff] said, "But it seemed as real as anything. I had a direct experience of consciousness jumping from person to person through walls."

"That's what you believed at the time, You all took it for granted that things like that happen. You were expecting it and you got what you expected..." [Sarah said]

"I had it again when I was meditating... It was the deepest meditation I've had in ages. I don't know why it's better with the group..."

"Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. A placebo."

I gave Sarah a big grin. "That's why I married you..."
Smart man, smart woman. If you guys ever hit a rough patch, hit me up by email, Sarah.

Finally, at the end of the book Geoff breaks out the debunking, which is really nothing more than the application of common sense. All in all it's a sweet little read that moves quickly, doesn't bore, and provides a good insider's view of what goes on in Fairfield, and by extension, that mad little old coot's head. There are a few distracting bits about Geoff's work as a software writer/programmer, including some obvious product placement. He also kind of skips much discussion of the Madharishi's "peace palace" program, but we'll give it four out of five turbans anyway, mostly for its value as a source of information about the history of the TM™ movement and how it (doesn't quite) work today in Fairfield.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sri Sri Sucks Up Another Award

File under: The Siddhi of PR

He may not have been able to snag the Nobel Peace Prize this year, but that's not stopping Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from collecting yet another empty accolade in his quest for the perfection of his self-aggrandizement. This time it's an honorary PhD in Holistic Medicine from the Open International University for Complementary Medicine in Sri Lanka. Not surprisingly, the reasons he's getting the award are a bit shaky:
Ravi Shankar, who commands millions of followers worldwide, has added a holistic dimension to healthcare by reviving ancient healing techniques and practices and presented them in a way that is suitable for modern lifestyles.
It would more accurately read: by appropriating an obscure pranayam technique and then trying to pass it off as an original creation, even going so far as to greedily attempt to copyright it. That puts him on the same plane as "Bling-Bling" Bikram Choudhury here in the States, who recently attempted to copyright his sequence of common hatha yoga postures.

Sri Sri may be a bit more subtle about his bling than Bling-Bling, but both are men who lucked into a role as spiritual leader after recasting ancient and commonly-used practices as their own inspired handiwork. Now, they appear to be unstoppable juggernauts of self-glorification, due to the fact there's one born every minute – that is, needy seekers of confirmation in the form of an addiction to a make-it-alright-with-a-wave-of-his-hand space daddy.

Who knows? Maybe Bling-Bling will be able to bring peace to Sri Lanka. He sure couldn't do any worse than Sri Sri.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sai Baba Smackdown

File under: Satscams and Hands Where They Don't Belong

In what is quite unusual for the Indian press, a Hindustan Times columnist puts the smackdown on the Babaster:
The homosexual abuse allegations are now too numerous to dispute. (Enter ‘Sathya Sai Baba’ and ‘homosexuality’ on a Google search and you will get an astonishing 18,000 references.) I am prepared to believe that at least some of the young men who claim to have been fondled or otherwise assaulted by the Baba are liars.

But can every single person who claims to have been fondled be a liar? By now, the list of complainants runs into triple figures. And that’s just the Westerners. (The Indians seem less able to speak out against the Baba.) Surely, there is a case for the old boy to answer?

Bizarrely, none of the fondling-of-devotees stuff seems to perturb any of the Baba’s high-profile followers. And, when you ask the many senior politicians, who turn up at the Puttaparthi ashram to fling themselves at the Holy One’s feet, whether they are legitimising the Baba’s activities, the only responses you get follow predictable lines: “Even Jesus had to face criticism” etc etc.
As long as he's got millions thinking he's God, Sai Baba will have enough politicians in his back pocket to coverup many more misdeeds with young men. Like it or not, the world is probably going to have the Babaster's hands down its pants until he croaks, and nothing short of a young man exclusionary zone with a 1000-mile radius is going to keep privates private from his grabby mitts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Making Money Off Her Mac-Daddy

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong and Gurubusting

In what could be a first for the nonduality satsang world, Gangaji has built an entire weekend retreat around the fact that her husband/co-teacher has been a dog. Welcome to the Jewel in Disillusionment:
Most of the prolonged suffering of our lives directly relates to our resistance to disillusionment. From early childhood until death, we all experience wanting what we love to never end.

Perhaps the most painful disillusion of form is our idealized views of loved ones-our parents, our friends, our leaders, our teachers, and even our gods. To fully experience the pain generated when the idealized image of a beloved form dissolves, can be the gateway to liberation. To avoid fully experiencing this particular death leads to torment of self and other.
Color us impressed with Gangaji's nerve. But not surprisingly, some former devotees are taking a somewhat darker view of her efforts:
"Both Gangaji and Eli have shut down free and open dialogue about the scandal at the behest of their lawyers and now they ask us to pay them to discuss the pain they've caused. I assume that Gangaji because of the legal advice she's received will not openly discuss the scandal at the retreat but will once again play guru expecting us to open our souls to her at a sizeable cost. She clearly doesn't get it. When is she going to get off the pedestal and become human?"

"This event will be a way for G to find out who her die-hard loyalists are. They're the ones who will willingly pay to attend something like this. A group that is smaller and composed of die hard loyalists and where potential dissenters have chosen to exclude themselves out by refusing to pay to attend the upcoming retreat--that kind of group is much cozier."
The sweet lemonade of freedom, or acidic cult fermentation? Regardless of what you believe she's getting out of her lemons, Gangaji has got a lot of gall to even attempt to capitalize on her husband's perfidious activities.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gurus 101

File under: Reference

We were doing a little housekeeping on the discussion list and came across a link provided by longtime guru commentator, Jan Barendrecht. It's as much a guru 'bible' as anything we've ever found online. It's definitely somewhere to send people who don't quite know what you mean when you talk about gurus.

Update: A kind reader has pointed out that the Next Switch article is only a dated version of the Wikipedia article, which is an even better reference for those trying to understand the cultural extents of the phenomenon guru.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Flip-Flopping For Nithyananda

File under: Real True Gurus

Our friend Antarananda has put up with a good deal of crap from us. But rather than taking offense, he comes back with exactly why he's sticking with his guru... and to be perfectly honest, we don't blame him one bit. Here's the latest evidence that Swami Nithyananda may be a bit better than your average human divinity:
The idea of Guru and disciple is only a psychodrama. There is no specialty about the Guru nor is there anything less in the disciple. The fellow who understands he is playing a drama becomes God. Those who don't understand are stuck in one role or the other. Just because someone is a disciple, it is not that he cannot grow spiritually more than the Guru and that the Guru is always spiritually more qualified than the disciple. If the Guru is stuck in his role, he will be lower than the disciple who has not understood that he is playing a psychodrama. I have understood that I am playing a drama and so I am God. You have not understood that you are playing a drama and so you are not God.

All of us come from the same dimension. We are therefore the same. When we are born, our mind acts as a barrier in knowing what our source is; it fragments us between who we are and what our origin is. We are here for a purpose and get attached to that purpose, while forgetting what we are. The actor becomes the character and forgets who he really is. That is the psycho drama. The disciple can be the Guru if he realizes that he can be the Guru. The Master realizes that and is therefore the Master. The Master can therefore become a perfect disciple as well. The opaque glass that fragments us is Maya, and ego, ahankara. Our mental attitudes, vasana and samskara are what make us who we are, the characters we play in the drama.

So long as we are in touch with the original memory of who we are, we are above the attachment in this drama. We are clear we are playing a role and can drop that role. We are then man, god and Guru all rolled into one.

The only block to our awareness is this illusion, Maya. We are not aware we are playing a role in a drama. We are not in control.

Q) 'You spoke about psycho drama…'

A) 'All miracles that happen around me are because you expect them to happen. If I am really a Master every one should always feel I am a Master; that's not so. When I am traveling overseas, especially in the USA, the immigration officials treat me like a form of low life, not a Master at all. To them, I am no one special.

Your expectations are fulfilled through me, because you feel I am your Master. There is no Master, no disciple. It's all pure energy. One who understands that all this is drama is God. Otherwise you are trapped as a Guru or disciple; as disciple you are only cheating yourself; as a Guru, you are cheating others. You are committing murder; and are socially and politically dangerous.

He who wants to fulfill ego becomes a Guru. If you want to postpone enlightenment, you become a seeker, a disciple. A real seeker straight away sees this drama and is awakened.'

Q) 'How?'

A) 'You break away by understanding. If you ask how, you declare yourself to be a fool. You don't have to accept yourself as a fool. Just accept yourself. Awaken.

Only when you understand that it's all a psychodrama will you have respect for me, real love for me, gratitude towards me; till then it is hypocrisy. I do not believe any one who respects me without any benefit. I am frightened of such people. I do not believe people who believe me right away. I would rather they do not believe me By believing me no one is doing me a favor. They just want me to be responsible. They call me god; after a few days they will dethrone me.

Only when you understand this drama will you be liberated and have Guru Bhakti (the Divine Master-disciple relationship); all other belief that I am superior to you is nonsense. It's your projection; you are creating that drama. You and I are one and the same.

I have all the problems that you have; whatever makes you feel unenlightened; your greed, lust, fear, anger, pain etc. I have ALL in capital letters. The only difference is that I have accepted all of them. You have not. I do not think they are problems. I am not bothered. In cases where I have not accepted, I have accepted that I cannot accept. Liberate yourself from the Guru; only then Guru bhakti can happen.
This is exactly what we'd like to see all gurus do, deconstruct their own mystique as it condenses in the minds of their devotees, as it happens. If he could only lose the "presence" shtick as well.

He may be "that guy who looks like a prop at a convention in Vegas," according to one commenter, but regardless of his somewhat cliché fashion preferences, we sincerely hope he's one space-daddy who will finally break people of their space-daddy habits.

Monday, November 20, 2006

For The Millionth Time

File under: Satscams and Hands Where They Don't Belong

A timeless tale created in a classic form by the Mahashakti (as told by The Observer):
Soon Paul was dividing his time between his girlfriend and son and the foundation. Paul tried to persuade Lucy to join him, but she was wary of Patel. 'The first time I was invited to speak with him he kissed me full on the lips.

I thought, "You're no guru,"' Lucy says.
Read the whole thing. It's as good as a guru-gone-bad tale as there is.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cult Cops

File under: Satscams and Gurubusting

Today we've been informed we've been added to the blogroll of The Truth about Human Potential Seminars, a site which monitors and warns against Large Group Awareness Training situations. In other words, mind control cults.

While it's not quite the same arena we like to spar in, there is a good overlap 'twixt the two. So we're going to return the favor and add them to our links section.

In the meantime, those of you either afraid of being brainwashed or interested in brainwashing others can check out this handy list of how to pull it off, courtesy of the TaHPS folks:
• Isolate them in new surroundings apart from old friends or reference-points
• Provide them with instant acceptance from a seemingly loving group
• Keep them away from competing or critical ideas
• Provide an authority figure that everyone seems to acknowledge as having some special skill or awareness
• Provide a philosophy that seems logical and appears to answer all or the most important questions in life
• Structure all or most activities so that there is little time for privacy or independent action or thought
• Provide a sense of "us" versus "them"
• Promise instant or imminent solutions to deep or long-term problems
• Employ covert or disguised hypnotic techniques
So if your guru likes to talk in a sing-songy voice which goes up and down and varies in tempo, know that the bitch or bastard is trying to hypnotize you and get the hell out of there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jaxon-Bear Debacle Mainstreams

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

Today, the Gangaji/Eli Jaxon-Bear/ex-student sex scandal mainstreamed a bit by showing up at Rick Ross' Cult News website. While it references an article in the Ashland Daily Tidings that was published just as the scandal was breaking on October 14, its appearance is significant in that the story is now becoming interesting to an audience that's more than just current and former Gangaji and Eli Jaxon-Bear students.

We'll take this opportunity to direct you to the comments sections of the Jaxon-Bear items we've already published. They now contain a lot of good inside juiciness that is definitely worth something as a source of information about Gangaji and Jaxon-Bear in general.

If you asked us, we don't find the whole brouhaha too much of a problem. Just like the fallen-by-way-of-a-recent-sex-scandal Ramesh Balsekar, Jaxon-Bear is a human male and subject to the influence of hormones and need.

While it may call into question the depth of his enlightenment, it does not really make a case against his self-realization. As we like to say: realization comes, enlightenment follows. Believe it or not, Jaxon-Bear can behave like a dog and yet still live in the ongoing recognition of his nondual nature. The fact that he couldn't keep it in his pants is a damn good reason to not seek him out as a teacher, especially if you're an attractive woman, but it doesn't mean he lacks an essential experiential understanding of self-realization.

He's definitely not the first guru to let the "little head" get the better of him, and if we ever make it to the big-time, we guarantee that he won't be the last.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chopra To Cha-Ching! Again

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Gurus to the Stars

Already on the hook for dumbing down Vedic wisdom as a way to make a buck or two... billion, Deepak Chopra is about to enter a whole new dimension of media overexposure with his Virgin Comics, Inc. production of The Sadhu, starring one of Hollywood's most bankable action stars, Nicholas Cage.

When you think about it, Chopra has catapulted clear past the point of needing devotees, simply because he's already made a mountain of cash with his books and other endeavors, which probably only require him to show up, smile and spout a few platitudes about wellbeing and such. It's called having a good business sense, and Chopra has enough of it to get into bed with Virgin Corp. CEO Richard Branson, who probably doesn't get in bed with anyone for less than ten figures or so.

So the turban comes off for Deepak. The one thing we like about him is that he doesn't ever really seem to make it all about himself. This puts him way, WAY above Sri Sri, the Kracki, Sai Baba, Swami Ramdev, Ammachi and just about any other big-time guru out there.

But how he works out as a movie producer/screenwriter remains to be seen. While we're waiting to find out, we'll pray to the Mother Of All That Is Good that he not hire anyone like Brett Ratner or Jerry Bruckheimer to direct.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More Peace = Dumb Papers

FIle under: The Siddhi of PR

Two-time presidential loser and lapsed scientist John Hagelin has been claiming credit for the Maharishi's phalanx of ass-bouncing meditators for everything good in the world. The Dow is up, the Dems are in power, and Britney Spears is divorcing the lame dude. Now, add the dumbing down of major metropolitan newspapers. That's the only possible reason for this lame excuse for reporting:
Good vibrations are humming from Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, to points all over the world. Because Minneapolis is just 350 miles from the university, the good vibes have been getting here sooner than they've arrived in Washington or Baghdad.
Something must happen in transit between Fairfield and Baghdad, 'cause those "peace" vibes are obviously ending up as gnarly war vibes.

The fact that the Star Tribune of Minneapolis/St. Paul would publish something seemingly written by a junior high yearbook correspondent with a David Lynch poster on his bedroom wall makes it all too clear why newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur.

Update: Here's another piece of major American newspaper reportage that reads like a press release for the Happy-Go-Lucky-Wish-It-Well-With-Unicorns! club.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nithyananda On The Power Of His "Presence"

File under: Gurubusting

Our friend Antarananda loves him some Nithyananda. We really can't blame him, but we can blame Nithyananda for working the "guru's magic presence" ploy:
Q: Whenever I am in your presence all questions disappear and everything seems possible. But when I am away from you, all the familiar doubts creep in. Why does this happen and what can I do about it?

Nithyananda: If a question disappears on its own in my presence, then it is time to realize that it was not a true question at all; it was merely a play of the mind. When you are with me, the mind is no more in control - you simply flow into meditation. You become a loving, serene silence. In this state, only a question that is truly your question, one that is completely relevant to you, will still remain with you.

In my presence, you become so intensely aware, so completely present that there is no space for questions to arise. When you leave my presence, the mind is free to impose the past and the future upon your present - for what else are your questions but the play of the past and the future upon your present? Just like the ego, there is no point in fighting with or condemning the mind. It is a pointless struggle which you are sure to lose. Instead, it is enough to be aware that this is the very nature of the mind; it can be expected to behave in no other way. It is bound to bring in anxiety, confusion, doubt. Just to be conscious of this is enough.

Do not pass judgement on the mind - even to get angry with your mind is to lose your energy to it. As you witness the workings of the mind, you will slowly become aware that you are not the mind - you are more than the mind, you are the watcher. Once deprived of your energy, the mind cannot go on! In the place of the chaos of thoughts that you call your mind, a clear, intense consciousness will arise. At that moment, all questions dissolve and the mind is no more.

This is the experience you find yourself having in my presence. And what I have just told you is the way to make it stay with you always - even when you are not with me! It is a slow process - give it time. It will happen.
Perhaps folks are just so ga-ga for their magic space daddy that they get a little dense when he's around. The same thing happens around famous celebrities, giving Brad Pitt just as much magic presence as Nithyananda claims to have.

A Beautiful Gem She Ain't

File under: Satscams

Witness Kalindi La Gourasana, believed to the incarnation of a Hindu deity and the satscamming leader of the Miracle of Love sex cult. See her overwrought enthusiasm as she zeroes right in on the weak spots in her devotees, their self-esteem issues. Watch as she demonizes their personality traits and offers to show them their "beautiful gems within", which is nothing more than her attempt to remake their personalities into a form more obedient to her. Notice at the 1:22 mark how she stares right into the camera, trying to take advantage of those folks who might believe her to be capable of transmitting some kind of supernatural nonsense.

The tells are all there folks, this woman is a con:Wonder what happened to the woman on the back of her book?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Visit To Fairfield And The Wacky Auteur

File under: The Siddhi of PR

There's a nice little article in the Washington Post about Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University of Management and a sizable population of TM™ers. Thankfully, the article is blissfully free of the Peace Palace™ and Global Country of World Peace™ shilling you normally get with this kind of thing. Even we have to admit that it's probably a pretty nice place to live, although we're equally sure that any bucolic setting would bring the same "sense of peace and positive spirit that [they believe] meditation brings [to] it."

If you're wondering how the TM™ movement was able to afford their own whole freaking town, wonder no more:
The training can be received from specialists in almost any American city and costs $2,500, including four days of lessons and follow-up consultations.
To which we say: phooey! It's a simple pranayama and mantra technique, among the most basic out there. While the Maharishi is a kind of genius in the marketing of spirituality, what he's teaching can be found in the most basic of Vedic-based ideologies. Save your money and find a vipassana retreat. While not specifically Vedic-based, they are free of cost (donation optional) and certainly every bit as effective as what the money-grubbing TM™ers are teaching.

Also this week, pop culture skewer specialists Radar take a look at the Maharishi's most prominent shill in the States, movie director David Lynch. Recently rebuffed in his attempt to inject TM™ into a public high school in Marin, California, he's coming back with a new book about the TM™ movement and a new movie to promote.

Already known as an oddball, Lynch has nothing to lose except the respect of his non-TM™er fans, for most of whom the connection to a world-domination cult led by a Tweety-voiced and crazy old man is probably even too much for them to take.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More "Peace" From Sri Sri

File under: The Siddhi of PR

With "peace" like this, war is getting a bit redundant:
A prominent Tamil politician was assassinated in the Sri Lankan capital Friday following a naval attack on two Tamil Tiger boats that left six rebels dead.

Nadaraja Raviraj of the Tamil National Alliance was fatally shot as he left his house in Colombo, said K. Sivajilingam, a fellow member of Parliament.

"We strongly blame the government, the government must take full responsibility," another TNA lawmaker, Suresh Premachandran, told The Associated Press.

"We understand that a whole magazine has been emptied on them (Raviraj and his bodyguard) in broad daylight," Premachandran said.
Er... good job, Sri Sri!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stuart Resnick On Guru's "Magic"

File under: Gurubusting

On a day when nothing was coming up on the radar, Stuart Resnick pulls in at the list with a great piece about his experience at Swami Muktananada's ashram in India – way, way back in the early days – when Gurumayi was not yet a guru but a young woman with perhaps a slightly different nasal profile:
When I was in Swami Muktananda's ashram in India, the teaching that was universally accepted among the devotees was that the guru had special powers to control magical invisible energy ("shakti") upon which the good feelings and special experiences we got were dependent. Such thinking, when strongly and constantly reinforced by the group and the authority figure, has an unexpectedly powerful effect.

When I left the ashram, many people expressed to me that they were worried that once I left the guru's presence, I'd no longer be able to get the feelings and experiences that they saw as dependent on the guru's shakti. I've heard similar ideas expressed in various guru groups, and I conclude that there are people who remain physically within the group and mentally within the group-think largely because of these worries.

About 3 to 4 years after leaving the ashram, I did my first Zen retreat, and found the experience more remarkable and subjectively more worthwhile than anything I'd experienced through depending on a guru. In the Zen setting, neither the teacher or the group suggested any magical invisible energy; there was no suggestion that such experiences were dependent on anything but my own efforts, intentions, and beliefs.

Having gone through this myself, I'm reporting back to anyone who's like my old worried ashram-mates. I'm saying that depending on external authority and energy didn't prove necessary for me. I'm doing this for the benefit of anyone who doesn't want to be dependent on gurus or ashrams, but feel they have to be, having been convinced by the authority and group-think, and lack of reasoned questioning.

This isn't to suggest that people shouldn't learn from teachers; I continue to do so. This isn't to suggest that everyone should avoid gurus who claim magical powers; I like to visit them myself sometimes. It's only to suggest that it's not necessary to do so, and that questioning the authority and the group-think doesn't have to have negative consequences.

All of this is one element of the equation. The other, as quoted above, is whether one WANTS to believe in the external authority and energy. My reason for not wanting to is that I don't want to throw away my freedom. Also: just as an understanding of evolution is so much more beautiful than believing "God did it," I find that questioning and experiencing for myself is so much more satisfying than following a belief from a group or authority.

If other people prefer to believe in scriptures or gurus, or who find Creationism more interesting than Darwin, God bless them every one. I don't feel I'm doing any harm to such people. The people I feel connected to, though, are the ones that value independence.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sri Sri's Peacemaking Skills

File under: The Siddhi of PR

They appear to need a bit of work:
At least 45 civilians have been killed in eastern Sri Lanka after army shells hit a camp for people displaced by the fighting, Tamil Tiger rebels say.

Independent monitors who visited the scene confirm that many people were killed or injured. They say the attack seems to have come from army areas.

Another 125 were wounded in the shelling in the Vakarai region, rebel spokesman S Puleedevan told the BBC.
Say bye-bye to the Peace Prize, Sri Sri.

Update: A reader just informed us [Ed.note: Yes, we're wearing a tall, pointy dunce cap at the moment.] that Sri Sri lost the Peace Prize a month ago. Better luck next year, Sri Sri!

The Fattest Avatard On YouTube

File under: Wackadoo Gurus and The Siddhi of PR

Behold the most inflated windbag of corpulently grandiose nonsense the world presently knows and his flushed-their-brains down the toilet devotees:

The power of spiritually-avaricious ignorance is mind-blowing. Were we to harness it as a source of energy, it would be perpetually renewable and put the whole petroleum industry right out of business.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

David Lane Via Stuart Resnick On "Big" Spiritual Experiences

File under: Gurubusting

Stuart Resnick is one the more clued-up of our active commentators here. He's also fairly active on the Yahoo! Groups Guruphiliac discussion list, where he offered up this important reference for all us gurubusters out here:
David Lane... does a great job of clearly and forcefully expressing a view of the special experiences ("shaktipat," "darshan," yada yada) people get in the presence of gurus, a view that's much in harmony with my own. [Ed.note: Us too! Us too!] Lane writes: "Mystical Fireworks are Self-Generated and NOT caused by a GURU... People when given a meditation sitting will report seeing and hearing things... It is the disciple's own brain (or, again, to be generous, their 'Self') which is causing it, but the disciple wrongly believes that the Guru is doing the transmitting... It is EXACTLY that MIS-taken belief which FUELS the would-be claims of complete frauds... Kirpal Singh didn't transmit the experience; the disciples GENERATED it. Kirpal Singh simply took credit for that which he did NOT cause. It's an advertising ploy and a deceptive one at that. I have had hundreds of students in my classes see light and hear sounds and see radiant beings and leave their bodies... Did 'I' cause it? NOPE. They did. The difference here, of course, is that I EXPOSED THE SECRET. Kirpal took CREDIT for it and gained 'followers' on just such a deception."

That's the jist of it, but if you want more details from Lane, see here and here.
A big thanks to Stuart for doing our homework for us.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ramdev's Roosing

File under: The Siddhi of PR

India's leading swami of rancor and rankle, Swami Ramdev of bones and testicles medicine fame, is roosing his demographic with a bit of patriotic fervor:
Swami Ramdev said the Hindu culture is unique and the whole world would accept its greatness. “Bharat will be recognised in the entire world in the fields of yoga and Ayurveda and the world will start acclaiming the greatness of Hindu culture.
And it looks like he lined up a bunch of other phony saints to pile on for him:
Founder of Bharat Mata Mandir Mahamandaleshwar Swami Satyamitranand Giri compared Swami Ramdev with Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekanand who worked for Bharat’s greatness and welfare of the entire humanity. “Swami Ramdev has been doing the yeoman’s services to the whole world and good results of his efforts are coming out,” he said further adding that the whole saint society will co-operate Swami Ramdev in his mission so that the world again recognises the spiritual values of India and greatness of her culture.
Can you say suck up? That can be the only excuse for comparing the loudmouth and paranoid Ramdev to the likes of Swami Vivekananda.

It's a bit like saying George W. Bush has the compassion of a Buddha and the intelligence of an Einstein. Shame on these sycophantic "saints" for even suggesting the comparison between the name, fame, financial and political gain-lusting Ramdev and India's greatest proponent of Vedic wisdom in the West, the likes of which will probably never be seen again.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Babaster For The Youth Of England

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

It's a pedertastic guru's wet dream:
About 200 young people will fly to India in two weeks' time on a humanitarian pilgrimage run by Sai Youth UK, a division of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. The teenagers and young men earn their Duke of Edinburgh awards for humanitarian work, chiefly distributing medical aid.

The trip coincides with Sai Baba's 80th birthday and has been arranged, organisers say, after he gave a divine commandment for the UK's Sai youth movement to visit him for the occasion.
Folks are not happy about this in the U.K., because "for decades male former devotees have alleged that the guru molested them during so-called 'interviews'".

Sending 200 juicy young boys to Sai Baba is a bit like sending weapons-grade plutonium to North Korea. With all the hubbub in England after the BBC éxpose (and U.S. State Department warning) a few years ago, you wouldn't expect it could get this far.

We imagine Sai Baba's professional online PR spin squad is quite busy trying to contain this fallout. Don't be surprised if a few come to attack this already quite dishonorable establishment in one of their desperate attempts to accuse the accuser out of speaking their minds.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

He's Not Reluctant About Spreading Nonsense

File under: Gurubusting

A commenter alerted us to the existence of Seeking Truth, the blog of a devotee of someone who calls himself the "Reluctant Master." What the author of this blog is not reluctant to do is share occluding nonsense about spiritual truths:
Criticizing an Enlightened soul has an immediate and profound negative impact on one's future. In the current era (of Kalyug), most of the Enlightened souls and Realized Masters are hidden. The person standing next to you, who might appear to be a very ordinary person, might be one of them. Since it is very difficult to tell who is one of these great souls, it is very important not to belittle anyone or say or think bad things about anybody...
Shit. I guess that means we've really got it coming.

It's too bad the "Reluctant Master" appears to be yet another source of pollution in the form of occluding ideas about what self-realization actually is. He may not be doing anything different than all the other wannabe space-daddies out there, but that doesn't mean it's actually doing anything for anyone except to help them build up their ideas of themselves as spiritual beings, effectively building a wall between them and truth they've always been outside of ideas like the above.

But to be completely honest, it's not all this bad. We encountered a few good bits at Seeking Truth as well. And it's quite possible that our negative impression has much more to do with the devotee than the master. As always, your mileage may vary.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just Call It Sri Sri Lanka Now

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been busy lately indoctrinating politicians from Sri Lanka at his Bangalore Art of Living headquarters, and boy has he been effective. Take it from his newly-minted PRbot, Sri Lankan MP Jayalath Jayawardana:
"There is religious harmony (at the ashram). I met a Catholic teacher from Kerala. There are Muslim teachers, Catholic teachers, teachers from different ethnic groups. This is a novel experience I can take back to our country. There is some kind of distance between religious groups in our country," he added.

"We have been leading a very busy life and a tense and stressful life. These three days we were able to learn how to lead a relaxed life. We have a demanding profession, especially because of the ethnic conflict. We have learnt how to be patient, how to be compassionate, how to be tolerant, how to be natural."

Jayawardana, who also heads UNP's relief and human rights committee, said more Sri Lankan MPs would certainly make it to the Art of Living Centre in the months to come.

Already a few of the nine MPs had decided to become vegetarian, he said, without revealing their names. "A couple have indicated to me they will give up alcoholic consumption."
It looks like Jayawardana drank 10-gallons of Sri Sri's Nobel Peace Prize Kool-Aid and he's pissing soundbites to order. We wonder what the quid pro quo is here. Perhaps Sri Sri offered to mention him in his Peace Prize acceptance speech, an international recognition sure to boost Jayawardana's profile at home. Or maybe he just stuffed some pockets with "donations" at the laundry.

The likelihood of Sri Sri ever giving that speech is on a par with his success at peacemaking so far. And with the Sri Lankan government still bombing the Tamil Tiger rebels and civilian population of northern Sri Lanka, Sri Sri's going to have to do a lot more than convince a few junket-whore politicians to favorably spout off about him to the press.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Blade Is Sharp

File under: Gurubusting

Lately we've been graced with the participation of a commenter who calls himself "David the Blade." Here he weighs in on our recent criticism of the seemingly self-inflated Eckhart Tolle:
I wouldn't quite let Tolle off the hook for self-mythologization. Don't be deceived by a warm, loving and apparently "humble" persona into thinking that self-mythologization, and sacro-mythic inflation are not present.

A person like Tolle who has had an experience like he has had, is almost inevitably going to become sacro-mythically inflated if he cannot properly contextualize his internal experience in a way that is **completely** free of narcissism and self-overestimation. However, almost every well-known teacher falls into a trap of inflated self-view born out of interpreting their experience sacro-mythically, as if they are some kind of special great light to the world. In other words, if his self-interpretation is sacro-mythical, some degree of narcissism and inflation seems to be almost inevitable.

Narcissism is not all mean and aggressive, and doesn't always have the appearance of being other-excluding. There is a loving, kind, joyous narcissism that is narcissism by the very fact of the bearer's inflated self-view arising, ultimately, from a tendancy to view oneself as the 'mythic' center of the world (or, as having a special connection to the mythic center of the world). This aspect of narcissism can fuse and lock into an inflated sacro-mythical self-image (as some kind of savior or bringer of light) around the time of enlightenment. It seems pretty clear to me that this has happened to Tolle. Witness his self-image as continuing the great work of J. Krishnamurti, one extremely sacro-mythically inflated dude. The people to whom this happens have no idea that they have become significantly inflated, and their followers are even further from seeing the reality of it. The traditions are typically no help in this regard, because they know nothing about it, only knowing the grosser, non-pietic forms of narcissism, and indeed, even their mythical founders were probably sacro-mythically inflated also. Or, at least, our images of them are sacro-mythically inflated.
We just learned a new word we're sure we're going to use a lot. Having been sacro-mythically inflated ourselves, we can really relate. Fortunately, we got that out of the way early and ended up just a jerk with a nice dog whose ass can neutralize any and all spiritual ignorance with just one poot.

Note To Commenters

File under: Notice

We've just figured out that Blogger hasn't been sending the customary comment moderation emails for a while, which is usually how we moderate the comments. As a result, a whole bunch of stuck comments were just published.

We appreciate the additional insight to be found in the comments of each post here. Some of our bunch are clearly much, much more qualified to guru than the gurus we love to lambast.

Gangaji/Jaxon-Bear Bring In The Lawyers

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

Just as we'd presciently (and perhaps cynically) anticipated, Gangaji and her philandering husband/co-guru Eli Jaxon-Bear have now called out their lawyers in response to his alleged victim's doing the same:
In our last letter, we shared our desire to hold community meetings as well as sending out letters from Gangaji and Eli. We did hold a community meeting in Ashland, and have been in the planning stages for additional community meetings.

Recently however, the Foundation received communications from the student's legal counsel. It has now become necessary and appropriate for the Foundation to retain legal counsel. Having done so, we are choosing to follow the advice of our counsel to not publish letters from Gangaji or Eli, nor to continue scheduling community meetings. We are truly sorry that we are unable to follow through on that commitment, but we must now allow the legal process to take its course.
To save their asses from being sued to a bloody pulp, that is.

Gangaji's sticking with Jaxon-Bear indicates to us that she is truly a self-realized master. Either that or she's an unmitigated fool who lacks any common sense and insight while stuck in a hellish co-dependency with an adulterous husband. A third possibility is that they are staying together for the sake of the "children," who in this case are the satsangis who've been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In any case, traffic for this site is up 33% since the scandal broke, so whatever it is that they are doing, they should just keep doing it as far as we're concerned.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fauxru How-To

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Canadian nonduality guru John de Ruiter has been in the crosshairs of a number of anti-cult crusaders over the course of his career. The latest to take a shot is a PhD student of sociology at the University of Alberta, Paul Joosse. His just-published research reveals the three ways de Ruiter makes his stone-faced silence work for him:
Joosse believes de Ruiter's silence allows his followers to project their own "highly personalized" meaning into the answers they receive from him. Joosse noted that de Ruiter's followers often have a history of participation in various alternative religious movements before they settle into the de Ruiter group and are therefore more likely than most to find meaning in the vague messages that de Ruiter is known to express.

The Canada-based De Ruiter also uses silence as a punitive tool and a means to discourage dissent, Joosse said, adding that the effect is similar to the way the Amish, at times, shun non-conformists in their group. However, one crucial difference is that the Amish employ the silent treatment collectively, while de Ruiter, the irreplaceable, exclusive authority figure in his group, uses it unilaterally...

The third function of de Ruiter's silence is that it accelerates the formation of intimate bonds between de Ruiter and his followers, especially when he combines it with extended eye contact. Joosse added that many of de Ruiter's followers – a good number of whom are middle-aged females – see de Ruiter as possessing "a mysterious aura".
Give 'em something to project upon, keep 'em under the thumb of your authority and be attractively mysterious. A perfect recipe for the flimflam man looking to work the bliss bunny crowd (while pulling as much tail as possible.)

Whether or not de Ruiter is actually self-realized, his mind games aren't really much more sophisticated than a high-schooler's. But with a gaggle of swooning middle-aged ladies piling on as they desperately seek confirmation from him, not much more is required to make him out to be a mysterious space-daddy who can make it all ok (or not) with a mere glance.

To which we say "well-played, Mr. de Ruiter." You may be little more than a manipulative creep, but your shtick is tight and well-rehearsed. It's time to share that wisdom with the world. May we suggest a speed seduction convention as your next venue?