Monday, July 31, 2006

Common Gruru

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Common Ground magazine is exactly the kind of rag we love to hate. It's basically just a collection of ads for every spun out New Age™ nutbag in the Bay Area, California, with a shingle out and the delusion they know something special about you. So when we came upon this article written by its publisher, the CEO of "Conscious Enlightenment, LLC", we thought we'd hit the jackpot:
In India, where it seems as if everyone has a guru, the word “saint” is used so often it makes you wonder why there are so few in the western religions.
Maybe that's because all you need to be a saint in India is a white or orange robe, twinkly eyes, long frizzy hair and the beatific smile you'd have just after you'd gotten the blowjob of your life.

H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati sounds like your standard Indian god-man to us. Taken into the monastic life at the early age, showing all kinds of spiritual aptitude, ends up hearing voices of reassurance that are assumed to be God's. These are the things that are supposed to convince you he's special, but with all the other god-men making the same exact claims over the last couple thousand of years in India, he may as well be walking around with a sign on his back that says "Cookie-Cutter Guru."

But who knows? Perhaps he's just a humble guy who's playing the role that his culture forces upon him. Swami is coming to the States in November, and just in case some of you want to go see what he's about, we've come up with a handy guide to help you determine whether he's a good god-man or just another self-aggrandizing ego-man:

  • Who is it all about: God, him or you?
  • If it's all about you, is it about what he can do for you or about what you can do for yourself?
  • Does he say you need "a guru" to help you do it for yourself, or is he giving a teaching you can take away without ever seeing him again?
  • Does he or any of his people engage in any kind of miracle mongering?
  • Finally, do you get the feeling you could take this guy to a Starbucks for a cup of coffee, or is he surrounded by a cloud of fawning sycophants wherever he goes?
If anyone goes to see the Swami in November, please let us know if he passes our little test.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Kracki's "Crack"

File under: Satscams

We're always astonished at the wild success of some of the big-time fauxvatars. We usually chalk it up to humanity's overweening need for mommy and daddy figures to suck up to for positive mirroring. But this recent anonymous comment on a previous Kracki post reveals another facet of the phenomenon:
In the first courses of 21 process people were given an ayurvedic pill called "legio" to purify the chakras so that the deekshas could be more powerful. We all had strange experiences very alike to being drunken. You could even feel sort of oneness state with all. After some hours the effect dissapeared though they said that Kalki had taken away the power for your safety... Afterwards in the next processes they stopped doing this and strangely... the experiences also disappeared; then more people started complaining because they didn't get any experience at all for those 5000 dollars... only philosophy conditioning. People in the processes don't dare to say that they don't feel anything because if so they wouldn't be considered like highly evolved incarnations so everybody continues in the process in the hope something will happen to them. At the end you feel like Shiva walking on the earth for the second time because out of our ego we all tend to copy but all this sooner or later ends in deep dissapointment.
It's not at all surprising that the Kracki hands out some kind of ayurvedic "crack" to get folks thinking they're getting something for their 5-grand. As far as we're concerned, they should have all stayed home and spent the money on real drugs. The extremes of getting high for a month or so and then crashing straight through to the bottom of the pit of despair would have been infinitely more instructive than sitting through the several weeks worth of mythological propaganda, superstition indoctrination and divine incarnation oneupmanship that appear to comprise a Oneness Movement "instant enlightenment" seminar.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Knocking Boots With Nome

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Satscams

Our old pal Sarlo showed up on the Guruphiliac Yahoo! group with a few choice tidbits this morning, one of which chronicles the saga of Nome and his former satsang partner (and now revealed to be biological brother) Russell Smith. It's a nondual family feud:
Numerous times I heard Russell object to the unethical things Nome was doing and what was going on at SAT. Russell functioned as a guest meditation teacher at SAT until 2003. I have heard that Russell left SAT because he disagreed with Nome's abuse of disciples in many ways. Helga, Russell's wife, left SAT because she also did not agree with either the teaching there or Nome's ethics.
We've never much trusted that Nome was anything close to a good guru, mostly on the basis of his taking a name which means "no me". But not too surprisingly, that non-existent me sure loves him some nookie:
Now as for the women who came to SAT, there was one casualty after another. Throughout my years at SAT I saw many women be flirted with, manipulated, and sexually used by Nome. He enticed women by giving them the message that to be in some form of relationship with him meant that their chances for Enlightenment were greatly increased or guaranteed.
Classically creepy guru antics. We notice Nome has removed most mentions of himself from his website, making the claim that "he places no emphasis on himself, but keeps the focus of the instruction entirely upon the Truth..."

Apparently, this "Truth" is found about 4 inches below Nome's navel if you're female.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gurus In Jail: A Roundup

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

• Chile's own Nazi death nurse and Colonia Dignidad leader Paul Schaefer is getting blamed for the execution of at least 22 dissidents immediately after the coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power:
Gerhard Mucke, one of the former leaders of the colony, made the disclosures about the killings of dissidents to Jorge Zepeda, the judge investigating human rights abuses at the sprawling farm 210 miles south of Santiago, the newspaper said.

Mucke told the judge that Schaefer ordered him in 1978 "to clean the farm" removing the remains.

"All the bodies were burned," Mucke said, according to the paper.
We imagine Schaefer now getting his "farm" cleaned every time he drops the soap in the shower.

• And in Japan, a couple of AUM acolytes were busted for tax evasion for trying to set up a slush fund for subway-gassing death row guru Shoko Asahara's wife and daughter:
The 35-year-old man and his conspirator... allegedly opened the savings account with the purpose of having the man's company dodge taxes and used the account to support the wife and daughter of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, whose death sentence is expected to be finalized in the near future.
This is apparently in addition to the money Asahara's wife is getting for leasing her paintings to the cult:
According to the agency, oil paintings depicting gods including Shiva, in whom the cultists have faith, are hung in the group's buildings around the country. The paintings are said to be the works of [Asahara]'s wife, and some cult members believe the paintings depict [Asahara].
That sounds a bit conflict of interesty to us, but a gal has got to pay her bills and we suppose it's better than turning tricks on the corner.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Save Lebanon: Bounce On Your Butt

File under: Wackadoo Gurus and The Siddhi of PR

That wacky old Madharishi believes he can bring peace to the current Lebanese-Isreali conflict by getting several thousand TM™ acolytes to collectively bounce on their asses.

We aren't holding our breath (or our bowels) while we wait for this to come to pass.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dumped On For Defending A Devi

File under: The Siddhi of PR

You'd have thought we'd stuffed a piñata full of live kittens and then smacked it with a landmine-tipped baseball bat right in the middle of a PETA convention for all the flack we've been getting for our recent Gurumayi article. The gal has got quite the cadre of anti- people out there, all seemingly set on resetting our opinion about the lady.

The fact is that we've always known about the "horror" stories that have circulated in the exSYDA community. Another fact is that there have been plenty of very creepy people who are still regarded as God walking the Earth, so a somewhat bitchy devi (to at least some people, [Ed.note: But nonetheless still quite the hottie!]) is no big deal in our book.

But while we remain excited by the prospect that Gurumayi is pulling back because she's seen the damage the living devi delusion can do, we have over-estimated the extent of her org's reorganization. A former SYDA higher-up has set us straight at the Guruphiliac Yahoo! group. First, about the contention that Gurumayi has decentralized the org:
Centers have always been financially independent. Centers have never received financial support from the foundation. I ran a center for five years, and the only revenue flow was towards the foundation. Money people offer in the basket in the front of the hall at programs in centers goes directly to the foundation. Many people make offerings there thinking they are supporting the local center, but the money goes on. Centers in rented space that have expenses (as opposed to those in devotee homes) have to develop a pledging system for their expenses. If they have some kind of offering box, it needs to be less prominent than the one for donations that go to the foundation. Many devotees are not aware that the money they offer when they go to the guru's symbolic seat does not stay in the community. The local leaders are allowed to mention that occasionally in programs, but it is frowned upon to mention it too much, because it might create "a sense of separation."

As above. Centers have always been self-supporting entities. Some are even incorporated separately. And if they offer paid programs such as recorded talks from swamis, courses, intensives with lay teachers, the proceeds go to the foundation. Center expenses for putting on such events are only partly reimbursed, as well. There is a list of what can or can't be reimbursed--printing of flyers, yes, flowers, no, etc. If a swami comes for a visit (a highly desired event), the center pays for accommodation and food (usually special food, not just what ordinary mortals eat). If a center has a good pledge base and not many expenses, and develops a cash reserve, if it goes over a certain amount the remainder has to be sent to the foundation--for safekeeping, or some such explanation. Getting that money back when times are tougher is just about impossible.

This has been the way things have operated since I was first involved, in 1984, until I left in 2004. And to my knowledge, it is still the same. What has changed is that now the organization is regional--there are separate entities in each time zone of the U.S, and in each country outside the U.S., which are administrative and deal with issues of "correct teaching" and the rest. But those all answer directly to the foundation in South Fallsburg, and all decisionmaking there involves Gurumayi. She is intimately involved in the financial planning of the org as well as such details as matters of vocabulary to be used, what hand gestures are approved, etc--I kid you not. The decentralization has resulted in fewer expenses for the foundation itself (because events are now scheduled at smaller, self-supporting ashrams such as Boston or Oakland, or at centers, thus eliminating foundation overhead entirely) and more expenses for local entities. Check out the prices of "retreats" at local centers or small ashrams--and know that the bulk of the proceeds go right into the foundation's coffers. It is turning into a lean machine, and the goal is wealth accumulation, not dissemination of the teachings. Since the locus of events has moved from the South Fallsburg ashram to these other (self-supporting) places, the cost of the events to participants has doubled in some cases. No way to justify that on the basis of increased cost to the foundation, because the local center or ashram absorbs the bulk of the expenses, the foundation has none (except perhaps plane fare for a swami, but even that is usually "offered" by the local center or ashram), and the foundation rakes in the proceeds.
Our former insider then riffs on our analysis of Gurumayi's motives for pulling the plug:
I agree it's good news, for the reason you mention and for many others. I wish her the best, hope she finds true love and gets to live the life she wants. But the thing is, she is in no way a guru, and the fact that most people in siddha yoga still think she is Shiva incarnate and that all that is good in life depends on her grace is not an accident. The teachings of sy have always told devotees to look within, but the culture of the yoga has given the opposite message, that it all depends on her. It's classic cult manipulation, tell them one thing but make it really obvious that the only "correct" way to be is another. Gurumayi's words have ALWAYS discouraged worship of her, but her actions and the actions of those closest to her have always given exactly the opposite message. Now that she is withdrawing, the disjunction is creating a lot of mental tension in people, which is a good thing. But the message from the foundation and from regional leaders (always verbal, never written! This is very important if you are a leader in SY, never put anything sensitive in writing) is that she is still the heart and soul, that people should pray to her for guidance.

My perception of the situation is that yes, the whole thing is slowly shrinking itself to death, and that it is a deliberate process, but that the fact of that will be withheld from the devotees as long as possible, to assure a continuing stream of dakshina. The theme for the month in siddha yoga for july is dakshina. There is some quote from gm about giving used to encourage people to open their wallets. In sy, all the giving is in one direction.
That's the kind of ex-devotee we like; one who's in a good position to appraise the situation without being blinded by their resentment and hatred.

But now that we're catching the glint of all the axes that continue to be ground against Gurumayi, we may as well be bashing another kitten-filled piñata, because we kinda doubt this minor concession to their point of view will be deemed at all satisfactory.

So let the calls for Gurumayi's (and the Guruphiliac's) head continue...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Another Fish At The Roost

File under: Book Reviews and Wackadoo Gurus

Here's a great review of a great book about a young American girl stuck with a bunch of loony guru devotees in India. The review just happens to be written by someone who was another young girl at the same ashram. We loved All the Fishes Come Home to Roost when we read it last fall. So did Shakira Hussein, who was there when Rachel Manija Brown struggled with her fate as a lonely Californian child in an ashram full of kooks. Hussein assumed Brown to be lost to the cause at the time, never suspecting that Brown was cynically rejecting the same pabulum she was:
I remember her and most of the characters in her book from family trips to India, and her memories are broadly consistent with my own. The only notable exception is that I had her down as a nauseating Baba conformist when apparently she was a nasty little cynic all along.
Two smart gals in our book. One day folks may learn that crazy is crazy, and no more God-inspired than anything else. These two saw that from the start. God may be crazy, but that doesn't mean playing copy-cat is going to get you anything more than some time in a psych ward, wacked-out on Haldol.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rampal's No Pal To Villagers

File under: Gurus Doin' Time

Murder and mayhem are two things you don't want around your ashram if you are looking to attract rich Western disciples, but that's exactly what you get at Swami Rampal's Satlok Ashram in Rohtak, Haryana, India. Apparently, the locals were pissed at the swami for dissing another sect popular in the area, the Aryasamaj. People from 27 surrounding villages got together at a meeting to decide how kick Rampal and his followers out of the ashram. Some person or persons must have whipped the crowd into a frenzy, because 1000 angry youth surrounded the ashram and began to riot. But they probably weren't counting on the Swami going all gangsta' on them:
As the mob approached the ashram, the preacher’s followers, armed with guns and other firearms, began firing at the mob indiscriminately. They also pelted brickbats. Since the followers of the preacher were at a height, the youths became sitting ducks.
One youth was killed and nearly 60 injured. It took multiple assaults by riot cops to quell the disturbance and get folks to go home. It was apparently the last straw in a dispute that's been simmering for a while:
The preacher has earned the wrath of the people of this area because of his controversial views on Arya Samaj. The entire belt is a stronghold of the Samaj and residents of nearby villages have been demanding the ashram’s closure for several years.

Fresh trouble arose on July 8 when the preacher’s followers blocked traffic on both sides of the ashram, demanding release of two persons detained by the Jhajjar police in connection with a criminal case...

In retaliation to the blockade, residents of nearby villages blocked all approaches to the ashram on Sunday. The ashram men lifted their blockade yesterday but the villagers did not allow those stranded inside the ashram to go.

Power and water supply to the ashram had been cut off several days ago.
The cops now have the ashram surrounded, but apparently the Swami hasn't been busted yet. A local official announced funds for the family of the deceased, including a job for a family member, as well as funds to cover the medical expenses of the injured. He also promised "stern action" against the Swami and his set of straight gangsta' devotees.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dahn Hak Be Damned

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Julia Siverls is the gal who was Dahn Haked to death in the Arizona desert last year:
From another set of documents, a different picture of Dahn emerges. In a 109-point civil complaint, nine of Julia's brothers and sisters allege that Dahn masters "forced and coerced" her to practice their brand of yoga, ultimately compelling her to attend the deadly yoga retreat. They charge that members of Dahn laced her food with drugs before leading her on a grueling mountain hike, during which, despite indications she was struggling, they denied her medical care.
This is old news that keeps hanging around and has now found its way into New York's Village Voice, where new details have emerged about the tragedy:
The sheriff's deputy noted that the group "did not appear to be carrying a large amount of water, and it was already very hot at 9:30" a.m. It was this detail that stunned the Siverls family, since the 911 call hadn't come in until 4:30 p.m. "That means all day long she was suffering," Alephia says. "That's what is really unbelievable, that this organization that preaches love would allow someone to suffer to death."
It doesn't look so good for Dahn in the U.S. anymore. The suit being brought by the Siverls should see to that, along with all the bad press Dahn's been getting since Julia died last year. Seeing how they arrogantly deny any culpability in her death while they forge ahead with their satscam, we couldn't wish it on a more deserving group.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Mystery Of The Missing Devi

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Real True Gurus

We've always had a warm spot in our allegedly cold heart for Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. It's mostly because we think she's the most beautiful devi to hit the planet since Sri Sarada Devi in the late 19th century. Also, we are acquainted with two outstanding individuals who are devotees of the woman. If we take them to be barometers of their guru's fitness as a spiritual guide, then Gurumayi has a lot more going on than just her good looks.

Not that she hasn't weathered her share of scandals. First, her guru, Muktananda, got caught with his hands where they didn't belong. Then, she yanked the whole shebang away from her own brother after he was caught with his hands where they didn't belong. There is also the existence of a sizable community of ex-devotees to consider, as well as rumors of her having gone under the knife for a bit of aesthetic self-improvement, which wouldn't bother us in any event, although it does make good copy for a gossip blog.

Once in the late 80s we were taken to a Gurumayi appearance at the SYDA ashram in Oakland, CA. At that time, we weren't really impressed with what she said, and we were definitely turned off by all the hoopla around her. The folks there were having a wiggling contest with one another under the conceit of experiencing kriyas. It looked more like a mass seizure to us.

We experienced Gurumayi once again 5 years ago, when we attended a Sunday service at another SYDA center. The folks there were chanting the Guru Gita to a live satellite transmission of Gurumayi, who wasn't doing or saying much as she sat in a chair looking her holiest for the camera. It gave us the distinct impression they were worshipping some kind of idiot-box goddess. We're pretty accepting of whatever floats your boat as long as it's not hurting anyone, but that creeped us out big time.

But a year ago in March 2005, Gurumayi had her world center's homepage taken down and replaced with this letter. Then, folks began to ask us where Gurumayi was. We also noticed an uptick in "where is Gurumayi" searches on Google. There are many who seem to be wondering where in the world is Gurumayi.

We are very happy to report that the mystery has been solved:
I just got a letter from a friend who just had satsang with her up in the [South Fallsburg, NY] ashram. She's around. I think, basically, she's just sick of the 'trendiness' of S[iddha] Y[oga]. That wasn't Baba [Muktananda]'s mission--to make Siddha Yoga a trendy thing.
When we began to consider the ramifications of Gurumayi pulling herself out of her schtick and going AWOL, we found ourselves blinded by our admiration for her to make such a move. It would appear that Gurumayi got fed up with her own big-time guru production and just went and pulled the plug on it all, essentially disbanding and decentralizing her entire organization! If this is true, it would be almost unprecedented and a fantastic indication that the gal has got it going on in a way every other big-time guru does not. As a service to her devotees and self-realization in general, she could not have done anything better than exactly what she did, which was to remove herself from the pedestal her devotees have built up underneath her.

This puts Gurumayi in a whole different class of gurus – the real ones. Not that there aren't thousands, if not millions who still believe she is God walking the Earth. But the fact that she's stopped working that angle indicates the woman actually has the best interests of her devotees and their own self-knowledge at heart, rather than just her own glorification, as most of the other big-time gurus do.

Now, Gurumayi is even more stunningly beautiful than she's ever seemed before. We're doing everything we can to not jump into the truck right now and drive to New York so we can stalk the woman, if only to express our deep appreciation for her recognition of the problems that accompany living guru bhakti and all the occlusion it can create in the minds of the devotees. The monster narcissacharyas like Sri Sri, the Babaster, Kracki and Adi Da need to take a good hard look at the trail she's blazing if any of them actually really care about their devotees. Unfortunately, that's about as likely as Pastor Fred showing up at the Folsom Street Fair in bare-assed leather chaps, not that anyone would ever want to see that.

Gurumayi has proven it's not all about her, it's all about her devotees. That places her on the Real True Gurus list around here, and we are exceedingly happy to have her there (and not just because we find her so incredibly hot.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sri Sri Sells It In San Mateo

File under: The Siddhi of PR

AoL's Peace Prize prizing leader has arrived in Northern California after renting the San Mateo County Expo Center to park his snake oil cart:
For the first five days, Shankar will teach Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing technique he invented 25 years ago.
Sri Sri invented pranayama like Madonna invented the bump and grind.

The fact that Sri Sri sells his salvation and peace is all one really needs to consider when deciding his fitness as a Peace Prize nominee. If he really, really believed in his practice's power to save the world, Sri Sri would be teaching it to us all for free. But giving it away probably won't impress his "daddy" the Madharishi nearly as much as making more money than he did.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ohhh, Snap! Writer Takes Big Time Gurus To Task

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

This morning we found an essay criticizing big time gurudom and the commercialization of spirituality for profit and self-aggrandizement, written by psychotherapist/writer Khalid Sohail of Ontario, Canada. While he didn't name many names, we think you'll know who he's talking about:
Most pseudo-mystics whether from the East or the West have cultish personalities. They use their charm and charisma to hypnotize people and paralyze their independent thinking and critical judgment. Their victims become vulnerable to the irrational demands of these gurus and following them blindly. Such pseudo-mystics discourage rational, logical, objective and analytical thinking, instead using reference material that cannot be objectively tested by scientific methods.
Hmmm.... do you think he could be talking about JUST ABOUT EVERYONE MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG!?

Try and guess which baba employs this sort of nonsense in his pursuit of money, name and fame:
Some of them perform “miracles” to amaze their followers and consolidate their power. They claim to be able to influence the weather, promise children to infertile women or say that they can magically intervene in disasters. Although the disciples are temporarily reassured, the problems remain, as they require realistic solutions rather than illusions. Rather than encouraging disciples to be independent, these pseudo-mystics create and foster emotional dependency. Rather than being good role models and source of inspiration their goal is to convert, control and exploit.
If you didn't guess the avatard Sai Baba, don't fret. There's probably 16 other flimflamming nutjobs out there who fit the same bill, including and especially the Kracki Bhagocon.

Sohail's essay seems a wee bit naive in places, especially when he dips into some of the same hagiographic ideas the big time scammers exploit, but he generally gets the idea. Too bad most of the folk who fall for satscamming godfolk aren't going to.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Amma In Chicago, Jnana Takes A Hit

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet

The heavyweight champeen of all the world's satsang devis is in Chicago this week, giving hugs while she gossips about the mlecchas in Malayalam. Ammachi is in the middle of her annual North American summer tour and still spreading ignorance about Self-realization wherever she goes. For instance:
It is pretty amazing that someone could be that present for thousands of people. So I think if there is such a thing as a realized being, it would be somebody like Amma...
Thus, another devotee leaves with a completely fantastical yet effectively occluding idea about what Self-realization is and what that entails for a life. Amma may as well be stuffing her devotees' heads full of rotten paneer when they get their hugs, because that's about all they're worth in terms of an understanding about Self-realization.

Fortunately, it appears that astral milk-saturation has been achieved in the U.S. Between the milk-poisoned masses getting hugs and the deeksha-deluded masses receiving "grace", just about all the gullible bliss-bunnies are being covered now. We'll let you know if and when we detect a new threat to self-knowledge when it comes crawling across the culturescape.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tyrannosaurus Ken

File under: The Siddhi of PR

You might not be reading this blog were it not for Ken Wilber. Our exposure to his books The Spectrum of Consciousness, The Atman Project and No Boundary was the impetus to go back to school with the intent of becoming active in transpersonal psychology research. We actually ended up in graphic design, but that didn't put a damper on our higher aspirations. The blog you are presently reading is the result.

We can't admit to keeping up much with Ken. We recall him repudiating that pompous windbag Adi Da, and then repudiating his repudiation. Other than that, all we knew was he was teaching at some school in Colorado and that he'd occasionally be featured in another pompous windbag's magazine, Andrew Cohen's What is Enlightenment?

Well, according to this guy, Ken's been taking lessons from both those inflated narcissacharyas:
Being integral is increasingly being defined as: ‘agreeing with Ken Wilber’. This is the only critique being accepted within the movement. And basically it takes the form of: yes you are a genius, but wouldn’t you consider that xxx. Such a form of self-denegating critique is the only one acceptable, and it can only serve to strengthen the edifice and the influence of the master.
Ken seems to be in danger of becoming a chip off that very large block known as Adi Da. There's only the proclamation of his special divinity left to be announced and he's off to the big time guru races. It's an exceedingly sad thing to see such an intellectual and intuitive giant get waylaid by his own hype, rendering him little more than another of the self-aggrandizing nincompoops who compete for the adoration of the spiritually gullible.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Legal Ruling: Rael Is Airy Fairy

File under: Satscams and Wackadoo Gurus

UFO guru, pimp and playa' Rael, the French guy who claims to be the half-brother of Jesus and appointed savior of the human race, has lost a libel case he brought against a Canadian newspaper columnist:
Dismissing an $85,000 damage suit against columnist Denis Gratton and Ottawa Le Droit, Justice Maurice Laramee said arguments by Claude Vorhilon, who calls himself Rael, are "airy-fairy."

"It is strange, to say the least, that Rael should be offended by terms used about him when they are similar to those he uses when he judges ... followers of the Jewish and Christian religions," the judge wrote in a ruling handed down late last month.
Vorhilon should have run one of his famous recruitment ops on the guy. We imagine he would have caved after the 23rd pair of UFO hotties showed up at his door, naked and playing with one another.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sri Sri Cons The Iraqis

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Sri Sri's Eyes on the Prize

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living org has brought 43 Iraqis to Bangalore for a 40-day sabbatical to learn AoL meditation techniques:
Instructors at the Art of Living Foundation, established by the spiritual guru in 1982, are holding lessons for the Iraqis on spirituality, yoga, breathing and how to lead a tranquil life even under difficult circumstances.
Those Iraqis would have taken a 40-day sabbatical to the pit of Hell if they knew it was going to get them out of Iraq.

As is his custom, Sri Sri takes out his box of crayons and renders a complex socio-political problem as a child's pretty picture. All you have to do is add a few butterflies and flowers and presto! All the troubles and problems of the world are solved!:
'The basic task before us is to empower the Iraqi people and that cannot be possible unless we remove the stress and pain from their hearts and minds,' said Al-Rayes, who was a part of the committee that framed the new constitution.
Don't pay any attention to those raping and murdering U.S. forces, or the horrific inter-sectarian civil war raging there. Sri Sri will solve all that with another of his pretty pictures.

Meanwhile, taking a cue from his former mentor, the Madharishi, Sri Sri is pushing his brand of meditation as a business productivity enhancer. And once again, the crayons come out:
"If we work in an atmosphere of pressure, tension with a lack of sense of belonging, can the work flourish? It is like driving a car with brakes on, said Sri Ravi Shankar.

Emphasizing on spirituality, he said people should focus on cosmology, commitment to truth and compassion and suggested the people to have trust in others.
A few more pretty flowers and butterflies and his work here is done.

Sri Sri's ostrich approach (head-in-the-sand denial) is a very effective way to appear as a problem-solver in a world that sees avoidance as a superior strategy. Just sweep everything under the rug as a result of inner turmoil, all the hard social and political realities be damned. That is, until those Iraqis return to Bhagdad and have to duck bullets and bombs just to get a coffee on the corner. Then they will know just how effective their funny breathing will be in keeping them alive, not to mention all the peace it will be bringing to those around them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bikram Busted!

File under: Gurus Doin' Time and The Siddhi of PR

"Bling-Bling" Bikram Choudhury, famous for introducing "hot yoga" and attempting to patent his sequence of terrifically ancient yoga postures – and the pimpingest guru this side of the Pacific – has been busted for "10 criminal safety violations at his La Cienega Boulevard studio" by Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo. It turns out Choudhury has been cited for safety and building code violations a number of times over the last few months:
Choudhury repeatedly flouted notices from the city's fire and building and safety departments that his converted warehouse studio had insufficient fire exits for the number of its students.
But rather than make the changes and bring his building up to code, Bling-Bling says he's going to bail on L.A.:
A disgruntled Choudhury told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that he had "had it" with Los Angeles and was moving his headquarters to Honolulu.
Aw... Poor little Bling-Bling throws a hissy fit 'cause he can't get over on the L.A. city government and will thus withdraw his "grace" from the city.

Typical guru grandiosity. Like anyone other than a few of his followers would ever give a shit about that town losing another monster ego.