Friday, April 28, 2006

Catharsis As False Realization

File under: Real True Gurus

Greg Goode's years spent observing satsangs from a point of view informed by self-realization make him an invaluable resource for those seeking to understand the socio-psychodynamics which unfold there. This is gleaned from the NonDualPhil(osophy) Yahoo! group discussion list founded by Greg:
The catharsis would occur when a person had an emotional issue that had a brief opening when the teacher hugged them or looked deeply into their eyes. They felt seen and accepted for that moment, secure, so free to burst out crying as a release. This was actually a very good thing in and of itself. The afterglow would last minutes, days, weeks or months, and then fade away.

Problems could occur if there was a conceptual overlay from the teacher (there usually was). The teacher would say that during that peak moment of catharsis and intense afterglow, the person was in direct touch with their true Self, beyond the blocks of the intellect and emotions.

So this sets up two expectations on the student's part:

1. Feeling like that = being the Self.
2. Always being the Self = always feeling like that.
3. The teacher is always their Self so the teacher always feels like that.

This sets up whole complexes of misunderstandings that can take years and maybe some deprogramming to see through.
Occlusion by guru is the whole reason this blog exists. We're glad there's folks out there like Greg who see and seek to remedy this as well.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

March for the Peace Prize

File under: The Siddhi of PR

This year's march to obtain the Nobel Peace Prize for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is in full swing, on point and apparently on fire in Southeast Asia:
Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar drew huge crowds during his recent tour of Southeast and East Asia and was also honoured in Taiwan with an award for spreading his ideas on healthy living...

He was welcomed by top dignitaries in each of the countries he visited, apart from drawing huge crowds in his public appearances, said a press release issued here by his Art of Living Foundation.
That's huge crowds. Twice. That can only mean he finds an adoring public wherever he goes. What more could you want in a Nobel Peace Prize nominee?

Awards. Sri Sri is quite the collector of those:
In Taiwan, he was awarded the "Fervent Global Love of Life 2006" award by the Cultural and Education Foundation of Human Life. While honouring him, Chou Ta-Kuan, founder of the organisation said: "Over 30 million people in over 151 countries have been blessed with love and health from Guruji. Through his own actions, Sri Sri has shown us a way of life that brings out human values in all of us, which is beyond religion."
And the clouds broke, the birds flew and the sun of wisdom shone on them all.

But once he got to Hong Kong, Sri Sri had to get serious:
Addressing a large gathering in Hong Kong, Ravi Shankar expressed concern over the alarming level of domestic violence in the country. According to him, the city's rampant pursuit of material wealth had taken its toll on happiness levels.

He said: "I see a high stress level. There is social pressure, competition and to cope with this, people need to find inner strength. Material gain is okay, but not at the cost of your happiness. You need to find a balance, inner peace and happiness. I want to make people realise that life can be fun."
And all it will take to have some of that "fun" is a bit of that material gain, the more the better... for you of course.

We expect a lot more of this sort of thing, Sri Sri being made out as a saintly promoter of peace by his PR flacks while he shills his product in new markets. There's a lot of ground to cover between now and when they announce the Peace Prize winner. Even if he loses again, he'll still have the exposure and perhaps a better chance next year. At the very least, he'll have acquired a few more customers for that pranayama retread he calls the Sudarshan Kriya.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Enlightenment Anonymous

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Brand new Guruphiliac list member Vaj drops the hardcore science for us after observing a particular satsang's socio-psychodynamics recently:
My observation of having recently (over the last year) listened in on a group of satsangers was that what I was experiencing was less a "support group for enlightenment and a possible to way receive the pointing out of own non-dual nature" but more a group which I could describe as Spiritual Codependents. Such a dynamic would probably be contingent on a large number of causes – I can only comment on the patterns I've observed.

In order for the group to work there has to be at least one person claiming awakening/enlightenment, etc. and the idea is that the state can be transmitted, passed on or facilitated.

Once it hives off onto more than one person, a dynamic unfolds where the enlightenmentee (the person who receives the recognition of their own ever-present original face/awakenment) then becomes complicit with the enlightentmenter, the transmitter of the state. The receiver, in acknowledging their own recognition, almost by default accepts the person who transmitted the state as also awakened. Since this is often in a group setting the process repeats, each mutually supporting the others in this "awakening", forming a web of silent agreement. A "gentlemen's agreement" is silently reached "I support your enlightenment and you support mine" – and there is almost always no argument or critical debate allowed. This is a subtle, unconscious agreement. Most do not seem aware of this subtle agreement as it is sealed by intense happiness characteristic of peak experience(s). [Ed.note: All of which have as much to do with true self-realization as our dog's furry little hiney.]

As the group of "enlightmentees" grows, so does the potential complicit contractual agreement which is never spoken of in negative terms but instead only in positive terms: the power of the satsang to awaken others is actually the greatest gift in the world and anyone who would think otherwise would either be ostracized or never dare speak. An important point is, it doesn't matter if the (transmission of the non-dual) state was genuine, just that there was some experience. That state is often "tested" in nebulous ways or not at all. In some cases there may actually be a pointing out of the nondual state. This "pointing out" is often confused with some enlightened state. Non-dual states of awareness can be pointed out by persons who are not enlightened but just have some people skills and good timing combined with some intuition. The quiet self-supporting consensus is that the people who are doing this are enlightened or "awakened". This seems to feed some subtle spiritual ego which is very gratifying, almost unifying to the group consciousness – albeit a group consciousness tinged with subtle unspoken attachments and bound by quiet agreement. It's as if the group has achieved an ego that is self-supporting.

I wonder if a possible mechanism for this dynamic could be codependents who actually can expand their own sense of ego and weave them into/onto groups. I actually wonder a number of possibilities, but this was one of them. This diminishes and removes their own sense of codependence and passes it on to a larger structure: codependent collective consciousness.
Get ye to the list, folks. We're blessed with the presence of some real, asskicking critical thinkers who are engaging in a blessed deconstruction of that ridiculous joke known as the modern transmission satsang, complete with its ludicrous – and much more tragically – utterly occluding ideas about self-realization. You may as well be asking for a head amputation to cure your headache for all the good that transmission nonsense does for anyone.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ramdev Reaches Into Schools

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

We're beginning to see that the rancorous Swami Ramdev is one of the most savvy among the big business yoga barons who have popped up in India in the last few decades. Case in point: he's hooking 'em when they're young:
Mullana, who attended Ramdev's yoga training camp at the industrial city of Faridabad on Sunday, said that consultations would be held with the spiritual guru to train teachers and also hold special sessions for school children.

The minister's plans include sending physical training teachers and sports teachers to train at the yoga camps of Ramdev.

The teachers would then impart yoga training to the hundreds of students in their respective schools during the morning assembly, he said.
After Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's moves to absorb the Indian Army into the body of his satsang, Ramdev's countermove is brilliant. He'll get them before they can join the Army. With both gurus being tireless in their efforts to obtain and dispense political favor, we do not doubt that a response from Sri Sri is forthcoming.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Punk Zen Priest

FIle under: Real True Gurus

The Guruphiliac list is on a roll. Long-time list traveller Andrew Macnab turns up with Hardcore Zen, the blog of punk rock filmmaker and Zen master Brad Warner:
When you get to be a Zen Master, people are always quick to try and give you power. People try it with me constantly. I had a e-mail a couple weeks ago from some guy who desperately wanted me to show him the way to Enlightenment. Obviously he hadn't been reading what I write. But, be that as it may, what he wanted was to give me the power to bestow this thing called Enlightenment upon him.

There are plenty of people out there who are all too happy to accept such power. They train their students to have certain kinds of experiences which they then helpfully label for them as "steps on the path to Enlightenment." Once the student's racked up enough of these, the Master bestows his blessings and the student gets to lord it over on someone else. And so the cycle of sickness continues.

A good Zen teacher will toss the power you attempt to hand him right back at you like a hot potato. For the student this is extremely frustrating. When it happened to me, I hated it. Hated it. Wanted desprately to find someone who would take my power from me, so I could relax and let him take the blame for everything. I mean, how can you possibly know if you are progressing unless your teacher tells you you're progressing? How indeed? But the idea of "progress" is one of the things you need to give up. You will never progress. Not one bit. You will never reach Enlightenment. And if you do, you can be sure it's a scam.

Do you want the Great Master to give you Brownie Points? Cuz if you do, you just might get 'em. That's where the trouble starts...
In our years traversing satsang culture, we've found the lion's share of those who pay lip service to the search for enlightenment are really only looking to score a bit of self-acceptance. Finding a guru who will give you brownie points may naturally seem the surest route to achieving that goal. While self-acceptance in and of itself is not a bad thing, a good psychotherapist is way more qualified to help you find it than a guru. Any guru in the self-acceptance business isn't doing his/her job, which is to show you that any self seeking acceptance of itself, is itself ultimately illusory.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chinmoy's Complainant

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

Gary Falk is the unrepentant class clown of the Guruphiliac discussion list. But just underneath his humor lurks a serious student of the nondual truth. He's been around the block a few times, once with Sri Chinmoy, the weight-lifting braggart who's also been caught with his hands in the cookie jar, so to speak.

Here Gary uses the False Guru Test to come to the conclusion that he wronged his former guru. It turns out Chinmoy isn't quite as bad as Gary thought he was:
For Immediate Release: An Open Letter To All Sincere Seekers

SWADHIN GARY FALK HEREBY ADMITS TO TRASHING THE NAME OF HIS OLD GURU, SRI CHINMOY!

Dear Sincere Seekers of America and Beyond,

When I first discovered the list below, I hurriedly scanned the categories depicting classic characteristics of phony gurus and false Avatars, to see just how many my old guru, Sri Chinmoy, had developed in his unbridled quest for spiritual "name and fame", not to mention, "woman and gold."

Because of the knowledge gained during my relatively close association with His Holiness Sri Chinmoy for 10 years, I almost immediately assumed he had at least 20 of the 26 Characteristic of the Phony Guru that are described below. I immediately and excitedly wrote to many of you and said that Maestro Sri Chinmoy, based on my deeply intimate personal connection with the Indian Spiritual Master and Spiritual Leader of the United Nations, had developed, over the course of the 10 years in which I was a disciple of Sri Chinmoy who claimed in my presence that he IS INDEED the promised and final incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu,i.e., the Kalki Avatar His very Self, as many as 18 of the traits and tendencies of the Classic Spiritual Charlatan and Phony Guru.

Well, Lo & Behold! Or, as they say, "Upon further review," I can see now, merely by scanning the full list, that the World's Strongest Yogi, Sri Chinmoy, and world record holder of the most weight ever lifted by one Avatar of the Age, 7,000 lbs. and there is even a video tape in Sri Chinmoy's possession that "proves" it, probably has less than 15 of the personal habits of your garden variety Spiritual Scam Artist.

In subsequent press releases, when I have time, I will go down the list one by one, and JUST IN CASE you're interested, and describe my OWN and not ANYBODY ELSE's, experience of living in close association with a man who not only claims Enlightenment, God-Realization, Self-Realization, and every other kind of Realization anyone could POSSIBLY have, but that HIS "Transcendental" brand of Divine Consciousness is far BEYOND anything that has gone before it, and the likes of which will not be Gracing the planet for another 500,000 years at least. And YES, folks, that is a quote, you can't bet the ranch on it.

Oh I almost forgot: The Alo-Devi Story, or How The Mother of the Universe lost both Her Divine Realization and position as co-head of Sri Chinmoy Centre Church, Incorporated, a non-tax-paying "religious and educational" organization, in ONE FELL SWOOP!

But enough for now. I see it's getting rather late.

Thanks for the rant. I always enjoy setting the Record straight. To the best of my ability of course, allowing a LOT of wiggle-room for the fact that ALL things are filtered through the mind of an apparent entity and therefore are both totally, if necessarily, subjective.

Let me just throw in one more thing, just in case you're still guru shopping. I have found, in my 35 years or so as an off-and-on seeker, that ABSOLUTELY the GREATEST GURU that I have EVER met, is the one that's right inside my mind.
The guru within is what this blog is all about, folks. If your guru isn't helping you to find yours, dump the clown and move on. It might be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Still Totally Mad™

File under: PPCOM, The Siddhi of PR and Wackadoo Gurus

Another week, another grandiose plan to rule the world gets announced by the Madharishi and his spendy minions. This time it's failed U.S. presidential candidate Dr. John Hagelin, leader of the Madharishi's Natural Law Party and ostensibly the president of the U.S. Peace Government. That's sort of like setting up a desk outside the front door of Exxon's world headquarters and calling yourself the CEO.

Their latest pipe dream is to create a $600 million dollar Maharishi University in Washington, D.C. Hegelin lays down the same old TM™ PR-speak about it for us:
We will create a new profession in the world: that of professional peacemaker. These peacemakers will be trained in powerful, scientifically proven technologies of consciousness based on the most advanced discoveries of physics, physiology and neuroscience, and on the Vedic science of consciousness. When practiced in groups, extensive published research shows these technologies markedly reduce crime, terrorism and social conflict; promote peace and social harmony; and can render a nation effectively invincible.
In other words, break out the tinfoil hats and join the party!

These announcements are stacking up faster than newspapers at a coffee shop on a Sunday: peace palaces, global governments, new monetary systems, organic farming schemes, new universities and a few dozen bozos in funny hats called rajas. Will they actually ever have anything to show for it all? We think not. We believe it's all just allowing a beloved leader to see his fantasy move forward until he finally kicks the bucket. After he dies, who knows what will happen, except to say it won't be the advent of a new world government based on "scientific" Vedic principles and the overwhelming hubris of a man who attempted to capture world history all for himself.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Guru's Trap

File under: The Siddhi of PR

The Guruphiliac Yahoo! group continues to produce. Discussion participant Jody (no, not us) offers up a link to the False Guru Test at EnergyGrid.com. Actually, we've already covered this test here.

But we didn't cover this pretty decent article about gurudom found on the same site:
Throughout history, there have been many fine and upstanding gurus who have taught the path to enlightenment and have demonstrated a great kindness and love for humanity. Usually (but not always), they have been from Eastern cultures which has a culture and a mythology which encourages such development. These cultures are also deep enough to prevent any particular guru from hijacking ancient wisdom and using it to his or her own end, although they have, of course, produced some charlatans — individuals who have feigned enlightenment for individual glory, attention and through expectation. Fortunately, the damage of their masquerade is somewhat limited by a system that pretty much defines a guru's general behaviour, and offers many alternatives teachers.
Unforunately, not any more. Sri Sri, the Kracki, the Babaster and others have all hijacked the wisdom for individual glory... and they're running with it.

Author Andrew P continues with the break down:
Problems arose when gurus started moving out of their original cultural context and set up ashrams and spiritual centres in Western societies. Suddenly, he found himself (and it usually was a he) in a situation far different from that which he was used to, one which challenged his "enlightenment" in ways that it had never been challenged before. Most coped with the challenge admirably, seeding Western spirituality with genuine paths to awakening. However, a string of shameful abuses (sex, alcohol, drugs, power and general excess) were perpetrated by a few high profile gurus, despite their brilliance as teachers. Many of their students, who had opened their hearts and minds (and wallets) to these "masters", were used and abused. (Tibetan Buddhism — with the exception of a few brilliant rogues like Trungpa — tends to be the least abusive because the training a monk goes through is institutionalized in universities of spiritual learning and involves many different teachers. This system is therefore far less open to abuse than one operated by a single despotic guru lineage.)
Unchallenged enlightenment leads to unchallenged miracle-mongering, and the next thing you know you've got a world-wide pyramid scheme running.

We'll do our best to lead a charge, but y'all have to help. Please send whatever you can in the way of tips and information to tips@guruphiliac.org. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Raid On Aleph!

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

Jittery Japanese officials raided 11 Aleph compounds yesterday, apparently afraid the remains of the Aum Supreme Truth sect were planning a retaliation action in response to guru Shoko Asahara's pending execution. Considering Aum's last action, we can't really blame them:
Justice Minister Seiken Sugiura warned that the bearded cult founder, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, still wields significant influence over the 1600-member sect...
A subway-gassing terrorist guru on death row still regarded as God by 1600 people in Japan and 350 in Russia. That is extreme gurudom.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Homegrown Guru Freaks Out Edmonton

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based nonduality teacher John de Ruiter is feeling the heat from the Edmonton Sun. They've just published a series of articles suggesting his satsang is little more than a cult.

A look at his website makes him out to be your standard Western nondualist. It's slick and not a stitch Hindu (de Ruiter's roots are Christian.) We've come to realize slick suggests nothing more than the use of a good designer, nor does the fact he admitted to cheating on his wife mean he's a fraud as a nonduality teacher. But doubts were raised after reading this:
"Critical thinking is the first thing to go, and the last thing one realizes has left," says [his ex-wife.] "Critical thinking was discouraged. Since most of the discussion is based on abstract theology and constructs, there really is hardly any way to disprove or prove any of it.
That sounds like a grade A mindfuck to us. Cult expert and long time deRuiter critic Steven Kent sure thinks so:
"The silence enables the followers to attribute superhuman status to de Ruiter," he says. "They create their own illusion of him during these times. He says something esoteric and the silence gives them time to reinterpret it in ways specifically relevant to the particular needs that they have.

"I also noticed it being used as a punitive function. Someone would challenge John or call him out on these esoteric things and say, 'Please explain this, I don't know what it means.'

"Then he would remain silent and he would glare. And if the person in the chair breaks down and starts pleading for answers, then it becomes a demonstration to everyone in the room that wow, this guy is amazing and powerful."
Kent's prejudices notwithstanding, that's a great analysis of satsang psychodynamics. But it still doesn't mean de Ruiter is leading a destructive cult. It's just standard devotee-to-guru projection behavior, the devotee's power to have meaningful experience entirely out of a belief in the power of the guru's enlightenment.

The important question is whether de Ruiter is taking advantage of this. Being a legal crankypants and one time adulterer means he's human. It's how much he believes in his own hype that would speak the loudest to us about his fitness as a guru.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Goode's Goods

File under: Real True Gurus

The Guruphiliac discussion list continues to produce nuggets of wisdom. Greg Goode has been in our pantheon since our first encounter with him at Jerry Katz's Nonduality Salon. As a frequent host of travelling gurus in NYC, he's got a backstage perspective that is rich with insight into the all too human nature of the guru:
There are lots of guru shenanigans! Many of them lurk beneath Guruphiliac's high-level editorial radar, but they're still sociologically fascinating. Maybe they can be discussed here.

To me, small hypocrisies can be just as interesting and instructive as large ones.

Stuff like the satsang teachers who were touting themselves as Pure Consciousness a few years back who are now spiritually and financially cuddling up to a major power monger like Kracki. Sure, the bills gotta be paid, but these guys have swallowed the whole roll, wrapper, advertising spiel and all. Or the Papaji teacher who announced her enlightenment and launched herself onto the satsang circuit claiming authorization from Arunachala thru Ramana via Papaji, who later got exposed in an adultery scandal, renounced her enlightenment, went to get her batteries charged by Jon DeReuter, and took up the enlightenment banner once again. Or the teacher who was accused of making enlightenment a personal thing, who then pretended to discover a brand new kind of enlightenment never before seen on the planet - "impersonal enlightenment!" But of course that was his, too!

These folks are humans acting totally human, often with stronger neuroses and shakier self-esteem than the average person, but presenting themselves as having transcended or perfected human-ness, having come to the end of all learning and development. Bringing clarity to the human condition is a more effective teaching than the pretence that some have transcended human-ness but others haven't.

If I were a seeker with tendencies to idealize gurus and spin fantasies about enlightenment, these kinds of tidbits would give me pause. Something, somewhere, would have to get re-evaluated!

The veneer of perfection is not necessary. The enlightened transmission model is not necessary, the kind of thing that touts the passage of a "special gift" from Ramana directly to the ticket buyers for my weekend satsang-intensive. Through me, of course. It might hurt business at first, but it leads to more clarity and reduces the suffering of the punters much more effectively in the medium and long run.

This age of rapid global communication and comparison shopping is itself working to reduce conceits. Muckraking-type info gets out easily, covers get blown, and facades get harder to maintain.
That's what we're here for, Gregji, to blow the cover off the facade of holy divinity and expose the much more accessible humanity that always lies just a tenth of a millimeter underneath.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Good Devotee

File under: Real True Gurus

Recently we've come to have some great discussions with Antarananda, a devotee of Paramhamsa Nithyananda and a calm and eloquent defender of the guru tradition as it exists in its native milieu. Today we discovered his blog and found this highly refined truth:
Surrender to Guru Process.
Don't be subservient to guru personality.
Be available to Guru Process.
Don't be attached to guru personality.
Antarananda has brought an adjustment to our way of seeing things. We find that to be one of the net's little miracles, the opportunity to grow by exposure to another person's viewpoint online.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Death Row Guru's Sins Stain Family

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

The woes of the children of Shoko Asahara are many. Denied admission to schools, jobs and a place to live with few friends to speak of, Asahara's pair of twenty-something daughters and his tween son are enduring the harsh fate of a death row family in Japan:
Human rights specialists say the Aum family case is not unusual. "While Aum is responsible for terrible crimes, there are also many others who live in shame, suffer depression and even commit suicide because they cannot face the social ostracism in Japan after they are identified to be related to a criminal, especially when the crime involves the death sentence..."
It all sounds a bit unfair to us. Sure the guy was completely evil, but that doesn't mean his kids are. It must be a Japanese thing.

We suppose it's their karma to endure this fate as one more dimension of the tragedy wrought by their father's murder spree. We recommend that they just come to the States. With an agent and the correct approach, they could easily work their familial ties into a ton of street cred... and perhaps even a movie deal or two.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Why Gurus Can Occlude What They Teach

File under: Real True Gurus

Things are already crackling at the new Guruphiliac discussion board at Yahoo! Groups. Longtime discussion denizen Onniko offers up the wisdom of Khyentse Norbu, an acclaimed film director and a Tibetan Buddhist lama who quite refreshingly doesn't take himself too seriously (we've highlighted the relevant bit in bold):
Khyentse Norbu's provocative take on Himalayan Buddhist convention is also evident in the way he interacts with his cast and crew. On set, he's the least formal of lamas, sipping water out of a Sesame Street cup and expertly indulging his typically Bhutanese penchant for obscenely dirty jokes. "Most so-called rinpoches like myself are too perfect," he says, sitting outside the bamboo shack that has served as his home for the final month of shooting. "And when you have someone who's perfect up there, when you're looking at a so-called perfect being, it doesn't make you happy yourself. You think, 'Oh, I'm imperfect. He's perfect. I can never be like him.' And that's totally and absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism. It's completely a cultural habit. And this is something we have to break."
This rinpoche is right on his mark. Gurus of all stripes would do their devotees a world of good to pay close attention to what Norbu is saying here. Unfortunately for the devotees, it's the pedestalization of a guru that brings in the money and fills the seats at the satsang, so as much as we'd like to see a depedestalization happen, we know we'll just have to keep pounding away with this blog.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fundies Slam TM™ Judge

File under: The Siddhi of PR

That bulwark of spiritual ignorance impeding progress and cultural evolution, the American Family Association, is going after the judge who sentenced a crack-smoking vote defrauder to a course in TM™. Actually, it's TMSM, or Transcendental Meditation Stress Management, and not affiliated with the Madharishi anymore.

Leading the charge for the AFA is lawyer Brian Fahling:
"You've got a governmental actor who's ordering an individual to participate in something that perhaps may run contrary to their own particular beliefs and belief system." Still, the attorney says he is not really surprised by the judge's order because it is consistent with a larger trend toward secularization that is progressing in America.
Wait a minute... The government is ordering an individual to participate in something that is being construed as a religious belief, yet the fact of this is evidence of the progressing secularization of America?

We guess the guy is as uptight about his idea of religion as he looks in his photograph. Who'da thunk that?

What he means to say is that TM™ is the wrong religion. They all are... except his. There is no doubt the guy would be flipping cartwheels if the judge had sentenced the girl to attend a Southern Baptist church instead. It would have been much harsher outcome for the poor thing if you asked us.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tantric Tidbits Land Priests In Jail

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

In a spectacular demonstration of the lust for spiritual power, two Hindu priests who were guru and chela have been arrested for eating the remains of a recently deceased child:
"Our investigations revealed the pair exhumed the body on Friday and after lopping off its head they devoured its heart, liver and other soft organs, thinking the act would give them with immense powers," Jaunpur police chief Abhay Kumar Prasad said.
Too bad they didn't appear to have a clue about the fact that tantric cannibalism is about radically transgressing the extents of human individual identity rather than being about acquiring mostly imagined supernatural powers.

The blame for the whole brouhaha goes to the British, because before they took over, you could find Aghora tantrikas wandering the cremation grounds of India, devouring human remains and generally minding their own business:
The gruesome Aghoris of India are said to have been given human flesh to eat at their initiations. This was generally choice pieces filched from the cremation ground rather than specially cooked morsels. Shri Ramakrishna, the Bengali Saint, is said to have undertaken a similar initiation but shrank from actually eating the human titbit. He satisfied the initiation rites by tasting it with the tongue. The Aghoris took this meat to prove to themselves and others that the concept of opposites–good and bad, nice and unpleasant (also mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita)–only existed in the mind. The Lord Shiva is also known by the name Aghora and meaning that there is nothing really horrible, or can be in a world supported by delusion.
Naked, covered in ash and out of their minds. Leave out the cannibalism and it sounds to us like you've got the makings of a pretty good party.

Update: A kind reader has provided a link to the musings of a modern Aghori in India.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sri Sri Saves The Day 2

File under: The Siddhi of PR

EXT. AIRPORT TARMAC - TWILIGHT

Heroic guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar looks southeast toward the island of Sri Lanka. He knows there is potential danger ahead, but with brow furrowed in stern determination, he walks toward the waiting aircraft.

INT. LARGE AUDITORIUM IN JAFFRA, SRI LANKA

Sri Sri addresses a large crowd of thousands, one which he characterizes as all being victims of the Hindu/Buddhist ethnic conflict taking place there.

SRI SRI
I have come here to take away all your worries
and problems. I want to see a smile that never
fades on your face.


INT. GOVERNMENT BUILDING IN COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - A FEW DAYS EARLIER

Sri Sri is received by members of the Sri Lankan parliament and the Indian high commission. An exchange takes place as Sri Sri scores PR hero points and the politicians score the belief that Sri Sri's followers will vote for them in the next election.

EXT. NEW CHILDREN'S HOME FOR TSUNAMI ORPHANS

Sri Sri meets several Buddhist monks and leading Sri Lankan politicians, grabbing photo ops with the young tsunami victims and scoring some more hero points in the process.

INT. TAMIL TIGER REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS IN JAFFRA

A Tamil Tiger fighter with an AR-15 strapped to his back is on the phone with officials of the Art of Living center in Jaffra.

FIGHTER
I am telling you, you must cancel the meeting...
or else. It is an affront to our cause as
two of our political allies have been recently
assassinated.


INT. ART OF LIVING CENTER OFFICE IN JAFFRA - MOMENTS LATER

The 3 of the 4 AoL staff members in the office look at each other in fear. The fourth staff member leans back in his chair with a smile on his face.

STAFF MEMBER #1
Oh no! What can be done!

STAFF MEMBER #2
We must cancel the meeting, of course!

STAFF MEMBER #3
I will go inform Maharaj.


Staff Member #4 rolls his eyes.

STAFF MEMBER #4
Go wash the pee out of your pants, you
pussies. This will work out perfectly. We will
let the press know that we held the meeting under
the threat of an attack. It will bring much glory
to Maharaj and increase his chances for the
Nobel Prize.


EXT. AoL OFFICE IN JAFFNA - NEXT DAY

A small group of reporters are gathered on the front lawn.

STAFF MEMBER #4
Peaceful and calm as ever, Sri Sri went
ahead with the event, where he led
thousands into deep meditation,
despite the danger to his person.
After the 20-minute meditation, many
shared that they have never experienced
such peace and joy in their life. Sri
Sri is now ready to meet Tamil Tiger chief
Velupillai Prabhakaran and bring this
horrible conflict to an end.


Staff Member #4 turns to walk back into the building. A smile is on his face as he figuratively pats himself on the back in the knowledge he's helped his boss look even more the hero once again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dalai Lama Visit Provokes Born-Again Hysteria

File under: The Siddhi of PR

An impending visit by the Dalai Lama to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has ignited the paranoia of local Christian leader Jan Merkel, who says she fears for the spiritual safety of the patients there. [Ed.note: We know. The last few days have been slow for guru news, folks.]:
[S]he knows the Rochester clinic is a place where many people go as a last resort when they have exhausted all other hope for treatment of their diseases. Because of this, the Tibetan Buddhist leader's impending visit is "a disaster waiting to happen," she contends.

"You've got hundreds if not thousands of people like that, in that mental state," Markell observes, "and then along comes this false prophet, who probably is going to give them some kind of lie because he represents everything that has to do with the New Age movement."

The bottom line, the ministry leader says, is the need for people "to pray for this thing that's going to happen on April 17."
The incredibly small-minded fundamentalists never cease to amuse with their exceedingly facile expressions of ignorance. You may as well hire the local kindergarten to produce the rhetoric. It would probably be a vast improvement over what this shrill old biddy just came up with in an obvious attempt to get some more attention for herself at the expense of the Dalai Lama and the patients at the clinic.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Madharishi Marches On Kansas

File under: PPCOM and Wackadoo Gurus

[Ed.note: We just realized that yesterday's pro-TM™ story also originated at kansascity.com. We find that fascinating.]

Why is the Madharishi building the World Capital of Peace in north central Kansas? Because the land is cheap? Because it's closer to Fairfield, Iowa? Because the local Baptist churches are rolling out the welcome wagon for them? Probably not. Apparently, the World Capital of Peace can only be built near the geographical center of the continental U.S.

How cute! The Madharishi's obsessive-compulsive disorder is driving his world takeover scheme.

It's not like we really need to say this, but the Madharishi's dream of forming a new world government ain't gonna happen. It would require mass acceptance of the Madharishi himself, and the only place that is going to happen is in the poor old man's delusions of grandeur and those of his faithful. It's a nice dream... but a pipe dream.

We want to see the world a better place too, but we know it will have to happen collectively and trans-ideologically. All those yet to be built Peace Palaces and funny money investment schemes aren't going to get folks flocking to TM™ just because they get announced in an occasional press release.

You've got to give it to the Madharishi for ambition, if nothing else. Not necessarily a desirable quality in a guru, but definitely attractive to those who feel an irresistible need to be a part of something grand, even if it is only just one man's grandiose obsession and ridiculous attempt to capture world history for himself.

Update: TM™ Court Program Not By TM™ Org

File under: Backroom Gurudom

We love it when this happens. A sharp reader with inside knowledge sets us straight:
The State doesn't pay anything in this program. The person being sentenced makes a small contribution, but most of the fee is paid by a non-profit set up for this program. The TM teacher involved in the program has actually split from the TM mov't due to conflicts with the price and other issues. The judge is not a devotee of Maharishi and has no connection at all with the TM org, he has just seen the benefits of TM for juvenile offenders - this program has been going on for many many years and research has been ongoing. Trouble teens learning TM rather than going to jail is a good thing. The weirdness of the TM org at the top levels is a completely different issue.

The TM teacher involved in this is actually your type of guy. Recently, in a letter (now public) to the TM leadership he wrote the following: "Don't delude yourself into thinking that we want to be in the "in" crowd. ("In", of course, refers to the "in-sane" crowd who wish to be certified accordingly!) You guys have never appreciated our work here with the 15 judges and what it means in terms of reversal of the NJ court cases. Our consternation and surprise at the behavior of the movement's leadership is amplified by the many thousands of ex-TM teachers around the world whose TM centers are all closed as the movement tries to rebuild the entire world and to face every building eastwards! The movement can't run one small university or its own small movement (more TM teachers are now OUT of the movement than in), but it wants to rule the world! Fat chance!"
We're much relieved to hear that neither the judge nor the meditation teacher are acolytes of that crazy old windbag in Holland. But we do see a trademark battle looming if they continue to call it TM™. Perhaps this portends a world-wide coup against the Madharishi, yanking the seemingly effective TM™ technique out of his hands and putting it into the minds of ordinary folks for more ordinary fees. This could be the start of something wonderful, folks. All hail the new, insanity-free TM! May its vibrations ripple across the entire planet.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Judge Sentences Criminal To TM™

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars and Backroom Gurudom

A circuit judge in St. Louis has sentenced a crack-smoking vote defrauder to a course in Transcendental Meditation:
Judge David Mason of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri sentenced her to four years of probation on both the drug and election charges, but she could face three years in jail if she violates her probation.

She also must get training in transcendental meditation and perform 180 hours of community service.
Why would a circuit judge in the U.S. insist on a TM™ course as rehabilitation you ask?
Mason is an advocate of transcendental meditation, a practice led by a Hindu holy man named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which the judge believes is an effective relaxation and stress-management program.
Besides being a clear government endorsement of religion and thus a violation of the constitution, it's also a clear conflict of interest for the judge. TM™ costs the big bucks. Who is going to pay for it? If the state does, it's definitely an endorsement of religion. If the defendant is required to pay for it, Mason may as well be a fee collector for the Madharishi, and that's a violation of the constitution as well.

It looks like the Madharishi's tendencies have rubbed off on a devotee who is in a position of power with the state. That's not good given the old man's penchant for throwing mountains of money at impossible dreams in a rush to see them manifest before he dies.

We hope this one is developing. We'd hate to the think that the government will develop a preference for TM™, especially given the fact that it's an exceedingly simple technique that is thousands of years old. This makes the buying of it no different than paying for salt water by the ocean. But we suppose it's not that much different from $10,000 toilet seats and free golf trips to Scotland by the Republican friends of notorious lobbyists, anyway.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Guru On The Radio

File under: The Siddhi of PR

A few days back we came across this transcript of a radio interview with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Isha Foundation and Isha Yoga. We finally read it today and were pleasantly surprised by the clarity we found... including the fact that his teaching didn't appear to involve anything supernatural, like Amma's hugging or the Kracki's deeksha.

But then we saw this big picture on his homepage, making it seem much like just another fame seeking guru's attempt to promote himself, eclipsing (for us) his message and the appearance of his efforts to bring the truth to others.

But maybe it's not as bad a sign as we think.

Living in the West means pretty much everything is about marketing. A guru with the truth... or just a desire to get rich are the same in that they must make a presentation of themselves to the world. Where is the line between just getting your name out and self-aggrandizement with enrichment? We thought we knew... but now we realize that we may need to consider this a little bit more.

This has cast Paramahamsa Nithyananda in a different light as well, our primary objection to him being mostly about his online presentation. We'll go back to the drawing board until we believe we can draw a cleaner line between the authentic and the fame seeking for you.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Asahara's Daughters Want To Know Why

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

Today's LATimes explores the plight of Mayumi and Kaori Asahara, the daughters of subway-gassing AUM guru Shoko Asahara, who is in the pokey waiting to be executed. The girls are working hard to get dad off the hook, claiming–as his lawyers have been–that he is insane and therefore not able to understand what is happening to him. Nor has he seemed able to provide his daughters with an adequate explanation for what he did:
They desperately need something back from their father too. They are seeking an explanation of why the man who taught them to cherish life, even that of an ant, could be a cult leader responsible for Japan's worst terrorist attack.
Geez. Insanity seems like the best explanation for that. Maybe Asahara really shouldn't be dropped down the chute.

But the Japanese public will not have it. Asahara shook up Japan that way 9/11 did to us:
When Japanese close their eyes they still see Asahara as he was when he was orchestrating mayhem: A white-robed guru with a flowing black beard and glass eye, a man who twisted the minds of well-educated men and women who seemed indistinguishable from everyone's else's sons and daughters. The image has become the icon of evil in modern Japan.
Crazy or not, it doesn't look good for Asahara or his daughters. It's their family tragedy on top of all the tragedy that Asahara brought to Japan. We're feeling sorry for them all right now.