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.


At 11/25/2006 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No western woman going around calling herself "Gangaji" has gotten over all of her own bullshit. Duh. Papaji sent her out into the world to clean up after Andrew Cohen, but who cleans up after her?

At 11/26/2006 10:11 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Hi Jody - Can you make available the site (if it was a website)where you got the quote given in response to Gangaji's latest offering? Are other comments online?

Thanks if you can.

At 11/26/2006 11:18 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

I'd say this lady has more balls than her old man!

At 11/27/2006 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some additional reading:

And some background about HWL Poonja, who was G's guru is here:

In an interview, Poonja (known as Papaji to his devotees) reportedly said that he let people believe they were enlightened because so many came to him beggng for it:

Poonja told others they were enlightened and to go teach. This man however, recognized he was not qualified to teach and did not:

Concerns about this proliferation neo advaita teachers is expressed here:

(IMO dazzling people as Poonja did, then turning them loose with no aftercare or training to teach is like getting someone drunk or stoned and then abandoning them. It is not respect for anyone's adult freedom at all. The Buddhist precepts forbid us to darken mind and body of self and other with intoxicants. Dazzling people into blissed states of mind, then massaging their vanity by telling them to go out and teach is just as much peddling intoxicants as selling crack cocaine)

At 11/27/2006 3:19 PM, Blogger jacflash said...

I can't help wondering if Poonja was really "let[ting] people believe they were enlightened because so many came to him begging for it" -- or if he was just dismayed by the inadequate performance of one or two "teachers" he had believed enlightened and so offered up a retroactive excuse.

At 11/28/2006 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I think Poonja was able to dazzle the minds of a certain type of experience-craving seeker.

He sent people out to teach and did this with little or no training, which is a dysfunctional deviation from both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Poonja reportedly sent Andrew Cohen off to teach (or recruit?) after just 3 weeks.

An auto mechanic is given more training than that.

Poonja left a huge mess behind. I would distrust any teacher who claims Poonja as his or her source of empowerment.

A real guru does not play on people's vanity.

A real guru is like a good mom or dad--give you what you need, not what you want, and does not lie to you.

We dont know how much time we are given to live. Distracting people and leading them down blind alleys *even when they seem to beg to be distracted* is a cruel abuse of spiritual authority.

Luna Tarlo, Andrew Cohen's mother, met Poonja and later corresponded with him. Her book, The Mother of God, might be worth reading if anyone wishes to research this further.

At 11/28/2006 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I would distrust any teacher who claims Poonja as his or her source of empowerment."

I would distrust anyone at all who claims to have "empowerment".

At 11/28/2006 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two items from a discussion listserve on this topic:

At 11/29/2006 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meeting Poonja once over two days was more than enough for me. I met him personally and was invited to the usual "tea" held at his home the following day. Upon entering, I saw about 20 or so people, in various states of awe and/or drooling, some staring at Poonja with adoration. I then looked at him and saw that he was watching television, a sports game, and having his (broken) arm massaged by some western woman who looked like a zombie. I sat there, watching these people idolize this old man watching TV, as if he was God, with him not paying the least attention to them, ignoring the fact that they were even in his living room. For me it was the height of bad manners, and totally ridiculous. There was some kind of "energy" in the room, caused by I don't know and don't care what. I only know that his followers appeared to be totally whacked out and I was not at all interested in Poonja's "enlightenment", with or without cricket and a tea party without a host.

Why am I not surprised that his followers who became "teachers" also have no manners and want to be worshipped?

Even after seeing Poonja, I did go once to see Gangaji and also once to Eli. I found them both shallow, needing to control the people in the group, and (Eli especially) really becoming angry and redfaced when asked cooly by a "bystander" in the audience if he had considered an alternative view of the point he was making vehemently to some poor crying lady who was there begging him for help.

All in all, if you follow a blind man and he leads you into a ditch, why would you be surprised?

I'm glad for this blog, and I'm glad these people sometimes get caught at their abusive little games. I wish all of them would get caught and we could have even more laughs!

At 11/29/2006 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jacflash said...

I can't help wondering if Poonja was really "let[ting] people believe they were enlightened because so many came to him begging for it" -- or if he was just dismayed by the inadequate performance of one or two "teachers" he had believed enlightened and so offered up a retroactive excuse. ---

Speaking as someone who spent some time with Poonjaji in the early days (early 1990's), it was my impression at the time that Poonjaji genuinely thought people could 'get it' (get 'enlightened' that is), and then be sent out to teach, and that was all the 'qualification' that was necessary.

I have no idea how he arrived at this conclusion, but I do think that he was really quite sincere in his desire to get the message out that 'freedom is everyone's birthright,' as he so often told us.

After sometime when Lucknow became a complete circus and hundreds of people had showed up with all sorts of motivations, and stories had begun to surface about Andrew Cohen, and when Papaji saw how the westerners behaved, I think that he became somewhat cynical, or perhaps he just saw things more clearly.

I do agree with the person who said that Papaji's legacy has generally just turned out to be a big mess, and personally I am sorry about it.

It seems to me that most of those who were there in the early days were very sincere people who had done a lot of spiritual practice, and were perhaps more mature and prepared for Papaji's message than those who descended en mass afterwards.

Even so, I think that Papaji had very little understanding of the nature of the western psyche or tolerance for its failings.

Had Papaji had a broader overview he might have realized that Rome is not built in a day, and that realization, although it occurs in less than a fraction of a second, takes time and careful teaching to prepare the mind prior to its occurrence, and also afterwards, emotional maturation is often required in order to fully integrate that realization into one's daily actions (let alone teaching).

When we were in Lucknow we often heard Papaji tell stories of the forty years he spent as a Krishna bhakta prior to realization. We often would wonder why, in light of his own efforts, he was telling us that sadhana was not necessary for us, or that we had already done enough.

Perhaps he was trying to tell us that it was not necessary to do sadhana in order to ‘achieve’ something which we already were,
and for many of us that was probably a good message to hear at that time.

But mental stability and emotional maturity, which can be acquired through various methods, are very important, and that seems to be exactly what many of those who are teaching in his name lack.

Added to that, most do seem to be experience promoters. And since realization isn't a new experience to be gained, but rather a recognition of what is already present, then perhaps most of them don't even know what they are talking about in the first place.

To equate self-realization with some sort of material gain IMO is to compare apples and oranges (and even that is not a very good analogy).

People would often have apparently ecstatic 'experiences' around Papaji. (I don't even know what the experiences actually were). Then Papaji would congratulate them and make a big fuss over them. Usually this led to the person feeling very puffed up and special about themselves.

This is completely antithetical to actually seeing that who one is, is who one has always been. To take that understanding and then blow it up as if to make yourself special is nuts.

The realm of the mind is one thing. In that realm there are all sorts of differences, all sorts of mental and emotional variations, and a lot of work can be done in those realms.

But seeing that who you are is who you always have been, is not really such a big thing to crow about, as if you are now some sort of special individual. To take that understanding and apply it to the realm of difference doesn't make sense, and it also in no way, IMO, necssarily makes one qualified to be a teacher.

At 11/29/2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Poonja got off on making people drunk. When people get thrilled and ecstatic, they sparkle and glow.

A person who can get people high
this way can get quite a nice rush
by orchestrating this sort of power-flow.

Its like someone sexually experienced getting a big thrill out of tintillating a less experienced partner, getting a thrill out of diddling that person and watching their eyes dilate.

At 11/29/2006 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's lucky no one else knows what our most secret thoughts are. We'd all be seen for the cunning, self-aggrandizing fools we are."

At 11/29/2006 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Anonymous' wrote:

"I sat there, watching these people idolize this old man watching TV, as if he was God, with him not paying the least attention to them, ignoring the fact that they were even in his living room.

"For me it was the height of bad manners, and totally ridiculous. There was some kind of "energy" in the room, caused by I don't know and don't care what. I only know that his followers appeared to be totally whacked out and I was not at all interested in Poonja's "enlightenment", with or without cricket and a tea party without a host."

This reminds me of a small child, surrounded by toys, ignoring them and focusing on whether item has captured its interest at the time.

From these reports, in aggregate, it sounds like Poonja played with people's minds and lives the way a very young child will capriciously toy with an assortment of dolls--caressing one, ignoring the others, suddenly tossing the adored doll aside when something newer and more interesting is presented.

Small children are charming and energetic, and delightfully playful, but they lack empathy and they are heedless of future consequencs. That heedlessness gives them charm and energy, but its also why little kids need care. That heedlessness can lead a small kid to play with matches and burn the house down.

One may ask if Poonja was like a small child--only he set people on fire, tell them they were enlightened, telling them they were ready to be gurus, heedless of the consequences for them or for others.

A small child's play is not at the level of adult relatedness, because small children relate to playmates and toys as objects--not as persons.

When a toy or other play partner--becomes boring, the child will toss it aside or ingore it. The younster isnt old enough to have a sense of concern or loyalty, for the youngster had not arrived at that level of development or been given the parenting needed to develop empathy.

I am getting a sense that Poonj and certain other gurus are adults disguised as small children. They appear to have a sector of adult sophistication, rhetorical skills, word spinning talent, some can even manipulate subtle energy.

They can be helpful up to a point, but this sophistication may conceal that some gurus remain at a young child's level of development, which means they have a young child's energy, charm, playfulness, but are *incapable of adult empathy and adult relatedness--or adult loyalty and long term concern for others.*

And we dont find this out until we are suffering, need help, and find the guru has tossed us aside because we are no longer pleasureable toys. Disciples of these adult-child gurus may feel blissed out and gifted for awhhile, but when misfortune strikes, may find they have seen thier gurus as persons, but that the gurus dont see them, their loyal students as persons, but saw them all along as flesh puppets, human dolls to be tintillated and toyed with--and disposable.

That realization is heartbreaking and many will come up with endless rationalizations that it is not so, or distort advaita to rationalize that there is not such thing as betrayal, when in fact there is, and one's heart and body are crying in pain.

Toys dont suffer. Human hearts do.

We hear of the Hindu idea of the entire universe as being God's plaything--leela.

I want no part of a God or guru who acts as a toddler, treating us only as mere objects to be toyed with, mauled, tintillated, then tossed aside when bored.

Again, I think possible taht Poonja got a real thrill out of spiritual seduction, toying with people's minds and diddling them into ecstacy, thrilling chosen ones by telling them they too were ready to teach.

An ordinary sex pirate does this by getting into people's pants. A spiritual seducer gets of on intuiting people's fantasies, and pentrating thier minds, seducing their ambition.

Who can resist the seduction of being told 'You are my successor'?

It takes a very high level of seductive sophistication to learn to use subtle energy, trance and personal charisma, little bits of Advaita chit-chat, and then diddle people's minds and then send them reeling off down the road to stagger home thinking they are qualified to liberate others from delusion. And these intoxicated people, their students and their families had to bear the consequences--Poonja stayed far away in Lucknow.

That was callous--but perhaps was a small child's lack of empathy--a small child who enjoyed playing with fire and was a spiritual pyromaniac.

When someone who is as lacking in empathy as a toddler has a facade of adult sophistication, and toys with people this way, ignoring that they will be stuck with incalculable consequences...that isnt spirituality.

The saddest thing is that it is so common place on the seeker's circuit for newbies to be told to make themselves gullible and not to fact check beforehand--when its the most important thing one can do.

For not all spiritual energy comes from a benevolent source.

For further reading this is very helpful:

And here in

'Some Reflections on Abuse and Uncompleted or “Intermediate” Gurus' Thursday, August 24, 2006

(excerpt) M Alan Kazlev wrote:

"Note also that the Intermediate Zone does not mean that you are not enlightened. If that is was the case it would present much less danger, because the Teachers who are stuck at that level would be more easily seen to be fakes. No, it is quite possible, even very common, for the abusive gurus stuck here to be Enlightened, and indeed not only themselves Enlightened, but through their own realisation to transformation others, or rather those lucky few who for whatever reason, perhaps a certain grossness or resilience of nature, are able to ride out the waves of emotional parasitism and sadistic abuse that is tied in with and inseparable from the love and compassion. For it is all part of the ambiguity of the Intermediate Zone that some people can be totally destroyed by its negative energies, and others transformed.

And here is where the cultic justification comes in: because ...[if] one person [is] benefited, he assumes that everyone will, if only they will stick at the process.

But this conveniently ignores the extent of human wreckage these abusive gurus leave in their wake. The contradiction between the two realities -- that of the devotees who are come through stronger, and of the larger number who are crushed – cannot be surmounted by the rational mind; the situation is fluid; there are no dogmatic answers.

But is it really a sensible thing to put your life in the hands of someone who adopts a sadomasochistic attitude towards his or her followers? "

At 12/05/2006 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I never heard an analysis like this one: Guru as undeveloped child, running over anything in it's path. It rings so true from some of the "masters" I've seen! Some seem much more calculating, though, using people just to get money and name and fame (to get more money). Then they pretend they are just having fun like a child to get off the hook.

I don't know whether Poonja was the first or second type, only having seen him for two days.

Interesting perspective.

At 12/05/2006 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just a hunch I have. I'm not an expert and this is a matter so rich and complex that we need as many people as possible to contribute thier observations.

If you want to read more about how this works, get a book by Len Oakes entitled Prophetic Charisma.

Oakes was in a human potential commune led by a charismatic leader. He became a research psychologist and interviewed 20 charismatic leaders, trying to identify the personality structure that leads to development of charisma.

All his leaders were incapble of ordinary adult intimacy with peers. They were children in adult bodies and to compensate for their lack of empathy, they all became brilliant at manipulating social situations and creating a certain aura about themselves.

Another acquaintaince suggested that many charismatic persons may, in addition to be children disguised as a adults have some form of bipolar affective disorder--which often takes the form of boundless energy and the ability to thrive on little sleep.

Others may find ways to manipulate energy through use of certain yogic techniques.

Its fascinating and complex--its all I can say.

There's also an intersting dynamic--the gurus who act like heedless children, using us as playthings--and there appears to be a very large pool of devotees who get some form of satisfaction from being protective of the guru and making excuses for the abuses of power the way doting parents ignore or rationalize dangerous or disruptive behavior by their children.

There's a lot going on here...

At 12/06/2006 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears possible for the same individual to have two aspects:

Charming, heedless non-empathic


A facade personality of adult sophistication, verbal skills, social charm and (if given the right training in yogic sorcery and Asian spirituality)--the ability to use trance, manipulate subtle energy to trigger bliss states and the ability to use Advaita or Buddhadharma to trick people into thinking that ethics and good manners are irrelevant.

The heedless child is the operating system (eg MS or Apple)and the adult communication, the charm, the ability to manipulate subtle energy are like applications (eg MS Word, Excel)

Under stress, or if a disciple is no longer fun or requires adult level responsible caring from the guru, a covertly childish guru will default to toddler level and throw a tantrum and/or toss the suffering disciple aside as a 2 year old does when a toy has become boring.

If you read Serpent Rising, a biography by Mary Garden, she describes an incident that gives us a clinical example of what happens when a guru is essentially
a toddler disguised as an adult and who happens to be able to trigger bliss in devotees who do not yet know they are being treated as toys.

This guru persuaded Ms. Garden to have sex with him. Eventually she became pregnant. She adored her guru, saw him as a person, imagined living at the ashram, raising his baby.

So she took the news of impending fatherhood to her guru and instantly, he turned cold on her.

He told her that an ashram was 'no place for a screaming baby' and ordered her to leave and take care of her trouble on her own.

Mary Garden does not say so, but she had been made pregnant by a toddler in and adult body who saw her as a doll to play with--and who tossed her aside the instant she required something that the childish adult guru could not give:

To see her as a person deserving his protection and care, a level of empathy, an acceptance of responsibility beyond the resources of a toddler, even if that toddler happens to inhabit the body of a guru and can speak with the tongue of men and of angels.

But what makes this so dreadful is that in the guru student relationship there is a sophisticated ideology that excuses all guru behavior as crazy wisdom, and that holding a guru to standards of adult responsiblity is something only for stupid, unworthy persons.

The crazy wisdom alibi is perfect for protecting and empowering gurus who are children in adult bodies and whose secret, perhaps unknown even to themselves is that they can only see disciples as objects to toy with, not with people.

Chogyam Trungpa did a great deal to popularize the crazy wisdom alibi and so did Gurdjieff. If you read description of how those two behaved, both of them seem to be essentially toddlers with a facade of adult brilliance.

Stephen Butterfield wrote a memoir of his time with Trungpa entitled The Double Mirror. It had only one print run and it deserves to be much better known.

The crucial thing when looking for a spiritual teacher is you have to know how to discern whether, essentially that person is a fully developed adult, and is able to see and relate with students as persons, not just as objects to toy with.

This requires a great deal of patience--and an awareness of this entire dynamic--which is complex.

But it is better to identify whether a guru only sees you as an object before you become emotionally and physically vulnerable in relation to that person.

Its like figuring out if a prospective bed partner is an essentially kind person or someone unkind whom you dont want to be vulnerable with.

In the old days they called this courtship--a mutual process of character assessment by two persons exploring whether they were to become lovers.

Any guru who demands instant surrender from us is no more than a small child demanding access to a new toy.

Run the other way or you'll be broken.

At 12/19/2006 5:13 AM, Blogger nagaraja said...

I read what is written on this blog with a great deal of interest as someone who has been profoundly affected by my meetings with papaji and gangaji.
I have met a great deal of other teachers but none have touched me like these two. Does theat mean i am deluded , immature , a child etc............... ? I feel incredibly fortunate to have met papaji , noone i have met before or since has touched me in the way he did.
I am not saying the path has been easy since then , i think you will find few people who met him will say that. papaji wasnt perfect thats for sure, he did leave a fair amount of confusion behind him but he also touched thousands of peoples lives in a very profound way . lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.


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