Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dasa Spanks Gangaji

File under: Gurubusting

An excerpt from an excellent letter posted to an Eli Jaxon-Bear/Gangaji discussion list which outlines exactly why she and Jaxon-Bear are not what their (leftover) devotees make them out to be:
In Sanskrit one of the definitions for Guru is Heavy. They do not play therapist and ask patients to sit on the couch for a loving psychological dissection in front of an audience who sigh in appreciation for their willingness to share. Bona fide gurus cut thru the biggest stupid illusions like the one Gangaji propagates which implies that we can figure everything out for ourselves. Based on the veracity of Vedic wisdom they chop such foolish nonsense right out of the false ego with machete like dexterity to really prepare one for a genuine spiritual education based on the sound philosophical check and balance principal of Guru, Sastra, and Sadu. They don't make things up along the way, nor do they rely on the type of cheap voidist placeboes, pithy maxims and worn out clichés like Gangaji spews out to the glee and admiration of her equally superficial audience.
Oh. Snap!

We tip the turban to William Roberts, aka Mayesvara Dasa, for an excellent and quite thorough analysis of just how deficient the Gangaji and Jaxon-Bear approach to Vedanta really is.

[Ed.note: We'd really love to get a set of before/after pictures so we can all enjoy the results of Gangaji's recent plastic surgery. All tips are kept strictly confidential. Please forward any photos or information to tips@guruphiliac.org.]

38 Comments:

At 1/11/2007 5:17 PM, Blogger jacflash said...

Y'know, I have no brief for Gangaji et al, but the post you linked is a veritable triumph of dogma, conformism, and religiosity. The part where Roberts calls G. for turning questions around into opportunities for self-inquiry and calls it a "parlor trick" was particularly precious. I wonder what he thinks of Ramana Maharshi? Or, for that matter, what he thinks of Zen?

Yes, Gangaji is full of shit, but are you really telling me Roberts isn't? From here, he looks like just another religion-addled blowhard whose scared little ego needs self-realization to be a magic indescribable super-experience that's out of the reach of mere mortals and that can only be granted by a Guru, never found on one's own. You buy this?

 
At 1/11/2007 6:10 PM, Blogger Narayana said...

Ummmn Jody, are you aware you just endorsed the views of a rabid Hare Krishna who in actuality is against Ganagaji and others mainly because what she teaches isn't his lineages interpretation of vedanta?
His core argument, like all Hare Krishnas, is that you have to rely on a specific, literal reading of the Vedas (as translated by that lineages founder) and by no other means can truth (i.e. the little blue guy) be known. Take a second look.

I'm no fan of the "papaji/ california satsang" crowd but if thats the best argument you can find on-line, your best off just writing for yourself!

 
At 1/11/2007 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well said - the superficiality of the teacher is reflected in the superficiality of the students and the other way around.

A student and a teacher are always perfectly matched, always deserve each other. Some teachers can only show you part of the way, some will illuminate the entire path, and others will lead you astray ( there's a nice rhyme in there somewhere...)

 
At 1/11/2007 10:13 PM, Blogger jody said...

I had a suspicion that Roberts was an Vedic ideologue, but it didn't occur to me that he was a Hare Krishna, who are like the born-again fundies of the Hindu world.

Oh well. The passage where he talks about gurus still stands up as a critique of Gangaji's neo-vedanta-psycho-comforting. I don't necessarily have to agree with the whole thing to find value in some of its components.

 
At 1/11/2007 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

swami shyamananda said:-

A student and a teacher are always perfectly matched, always deserve each other

-------------------------------

That is utter crap!

 
At 1/12/2007 7:48 AM, Anonymous durga said...

I think what Roberts says is thought provoking and informative (to someone who knows little about the vedic tradition). I would not have imagined he was a Hare krishna.
Thank you, Narayana, for giving me a different perspective on his argument.

 
At 1/12/2007 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
swami shyamananda said:-

A student and a teacher are always perfectly matched, always deserve each other

-------------------------------

That is utter crap!

.....................


NO, I THINK SWAMI SHAMANANDA IS BEING COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT HIS OWN STUDENTS. THEY DO IN FACT DESERVE HIM.

 
At 1/12/2007 9:49 AM, Blogger TheBlade said...

JacFlash said:
Yes, Gangaji is full of shit, but are you really telling me Roberts isn't?


Never mind, the enemy of my enemy is my friend -- while I can make use of him. Nothing wrong with that! :)

If Roberts needs to come up on the chopping-block some time too, well and good! For now, he helps us chop Gangaji! :)

 
At 1/12/2007 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm amused by all the dogma people lob to discredit gurus with glee. These people are starving for a religion after probably claiming to have left them all.

And I'm amused by those who dismiss 'gurus' when they do something shocking. Many of these incapable self-thinkers or observers would believe the sky is red just because someone whom they didn't like suggested it was blue or suggested they just look up.

A raving-mad incestuous murderer wearing a purple sundress collared with poodle fur and out-of-fashion uggs could run up to me and it seems like I'd be the only person in the world who'd be able to separate out his actions vs. what he's saying just to see if there's any truth in it.

I've read a bit of Gangaji recently -- after hearing about this scandal, hearing about plastic surgery, hearing about her bilking students, staying in five star hotels, clubbing baby seals, etc. And some of her words rang true in these ears of the biggest guru-skeptic out here.

I won't suddenly prostrate myself to her or follow her around the world helping her with her clubbing or even introduce the word 'guru' to my vocabulary when I've spent my whole life without needing it.

But when something rings true and I can easily see it in myself or apply it to myself, then I appreciate its value and move on.

 
At 1/12/2007 12:38 PM, Blogger jody said...

some of her words rang true in these ears of the biggest guru-skeptic out here.

I've never said that Gangaji doesn't know what she's talking about. I find her to be experientially qualified to be a guru, as far as I can tell from afar and from what others have told me who know her.

However, that doesn't mean I agree with her methods, if you could call them that. As Roberts has pointed out, helping people with their self-esteem problems is not the job of a guru. Most folks in the West are looking for enlightenment as a self-esteem booster. Gangaji appears to be in the business of boosting self-esteem. This is the job of a psychotherapist, not a guru. What a guru does is show you that you don't need self-esteem anymore, because they've shown you that the one who craves self-esteem is an illusion.

If we apply Maslow to the situation, then yes, self-esteem is important. If Gangaji were to be more interested in actual guruing rather than collecting money at satsangs, she'd send almost all of her devotees to good shrinks first for a few years. By providing this service (poorly) herself, she may be making a lot of money but she's also confusing the issues of self-esteem building with self-realization.

And that is a great disservice to her satsang and the world.

 
At 1/12/2007 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO, I THINK SWAMI SHAMANANDA IS BEING COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT HIS OWN STUDENTS. THEY DO IN FACT DESERVE HIM.

-----------------------------------------------

Aha! I get it............. it comes close to a self-justified stance sometimes assumed by 'religious authority' to explain away any misgivings or inklings of guilt they may have in using and abusing their students - they deserved it!

 
At 1/12/2007 3:29 PM, Anonymous betty said...

anonymous said,

Aha! I get it.............

............


No anonymous, somehow I don't think you quite got it!

 
At 1/12/2007 6:34 PM, Blogger Narayana said...

"I would not have imagined he was a Hare krishna."

Ahhh my gift and my curse: I can always spot a Hare Krishna at a thousand yards. It's a special qualification I earned by hiding out in a Hare Krishna temple for a few months as a teenager while I let the THC clear out of my system.

Many Hare Krishnas these days try to apply more intelligence and a sense of respectability in their arguments and avoid outright ranting about their guru and that everyone should "chant Hare Krishna and be happy". That would be a good thing except for the fact it tends to be just a veneer pulled over the same underlying current of Gita-thumping fanaticism.

Zannen!

 
At 1/12/2007 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gangaji appears to be in the business of boosting self-esteem

I've watched two of her DVDs and started reading one of her books -- so I may not be fully qualified to offer an opinion since I have a new and minute exposure to her stuff -- but I saw only the opposite of what you mention.

I saw people going up on stage, about half of them went up looking to have the dark nooks and crannies of their particular story nurtured; And instead they got Gangaji not stroking those dark parts, but guiding them to go deeper underneath all those pointless vectors of inanity.

I am coming from perhaps a more innocent, less spiritually-learned place, so I am not sure what a guru should or shouldn't do.

But I am intruiged by it all. I will go to one of her public meetings and try and go up on stage and see what the experience is like. If I never come back or start non-objectively extolling her virtues, I hope my friends will rescue me and beat me senseless with an object of their choosing.

 
At 1/12/2007 11:01 PM, Blogger jody said...

If I never come back or start non-objectively extolling her virtues, I hope my friends will rescue me and beat me senseless with an object of their choosing.

You could do a lot worse than Gangaji, even with her philandering husband around and my badgering aside.

She rides a fine line between being a repudiating space-mommy and a New Age™y life coach, making her a target here. But despite my zealous employment of her current difficulties as content, I take the dust of her feet for carrying on despite it all.

 
At 1/13/2007 5:32 AM, Blogger jacflash said...

You could do a lot worse than Gangaji, even with her philandering husband around and my badgering aside.

Actually, I second this. I think it's more a matter of her not really knowing how to "teach" the whole nonduality thing well rather than being intentionally manipulative or whatever. Her heart is closer to being in the right place (so to speak) than the hearts of lots of the folks we talk about here.

 
At 1/13/2007 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narayana said:

His core argument, like all Hare Krishnas, is that you have to rely on a specific, literal reading of the Vedas (as translated by that lineages founder) and by no other means can truth (i.e. the little blue guy) be known. Take a second look.

I am amused by any claims of "truth" by veda-fanatics.

All you need to take the fizzle out of a veda-fanatic is to ditect him to someone of his own ilk. Vishishtadvitins have demolished advaita; dvaitins have demolished vishishtadvaita; advaitins have demolished dvaita; together they have demolished everything -- all within the rigors of exegesis demanded for veda interpretation.

Where is room left for anyone else to take credit?

 
At 1/13/2007 8:24 AM, Anonymous betty said...

jacflash said...

Yes, Gangaji is full of shit...

Her heart is closer to being in the right place (so to speak) than the hearts of lots of the folks we talk about here.

..............

Maybe we should just talk about jacflush here, then if we said "Yes jacflush is full of shit...", there wouldn't be a lot of second guessing about it. The truth would just stand for itself, white and pure as porcelain.

 
At 1/15/2007 9:23 AM, Blogger jacflash said...

Sticks and stones, Betty. Try a little harder next time.

 
At 1/16/2007 11:45 PM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

I saw Gangaji in Sydney about 2 months ago. Dreadful... Flowing spiritual robes and a devotee to carry her shoes away. I asked the first question, and I had to bite my tongue at her innane replies. I cringed as I asked the questions, knowing that I was going to get the usual uninsightful satsangy cliche replies.

I think she was marketing herself too. A guy had to run around the crowd to get to the stage from the back, otherwise it would have taken a few minutes. But she claimed that he ran because he was excited by his breakthrough with her. She seemed desperate for approval. (I bought the DVD for proof of all this.)

It's weird when you feel sorry for gurus!

However, some people do seem to get a zap or something out of her.

 
At 1/17/2007 11:41 AM, Anonymous mule puky said...

Martin Gifford said...
I saw Gangaji in Sydney about 2 months ago. Dreadful... Flowing spiritual robes and a devotee to carry her shoes away.
...............

I'm trying to understand why you would go see Gangaji at all, if you feel this way. Was it just to prove to yourself that you are in some way superior to her? You mention her shoes...are you opposed to traditional respect being shown to Gurus in general or is it just for the ones you feel superior to?

 
At 1/18/2007 10:38 PM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

Nahor said: "I've watched two of her DVDs and started reading one of her books -- so I may not be fully qualified to offer an opinion since I have a new and minute exposure to her stuff -- but I saw only the opposite of what you mention."

The realeased DVDs and books of gurus are usually "best of" compilations.

Mule Puky said: "I'm trying to understand why you would go see Gangaji at all, if you feel this way. Was it just to prove to yourself that you are in some way superior to her? You mention her shoes...are you opposed to traditional respect being shown to Gurus in general or is it just for the ones you feel superior to?"

I was wandering down the road, thinking about some philosophical/personal question, when I saw a nice smiling gentleman holding up a Gangaji sign. So I did what other gurus told me to do - I went with the flow, which in this case meant seeing Gangaji. I wasn't looking to feel superior, I wanted answers, but I saw quickly that it was the lowest satsang stuff. I hadn't seen her for five years, so I thought maybe something's changed. It's gotten worse. She was lost.

Yes, I am opposed to people letting others treat them as special, and letting others think they are special, whether that be by taking their shoes, or however else it's done.

 
At 1/19/2007 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin G said,

Yes, I am opposed to people letting others treat them as special, and letting others think they are special, whether that be by taking their shoes, or however else it's done.

....................

Couldn't this be partially a culture clash, since Gagaji is carrying on an Eastern tradition? I'm not commenting on her ability to do this, althouh she was very kind to someone dear to me. But as someone else pointed out, many of these shows of honor and respect are traditional. Couldn't you just be experiencing a western presumption of superiority? I'm not saying you are, just asking.

 
At 1/25/2007 2:28 AM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

Anonymous wrote: "many of these shows of honor and respect are traditional. Couldn't you just be experiencing a western presumption of superiority?"

But doesn't liberation include freedom from tradition? Shouldn't we question all traditions? Keep good traditions, but traditions that elevate individuals are corrupt. In the case of "gurus", either the guru wants to be seen as high, or the disciple wants to see the guru as high. Why? We should just be interested in undivided naked reality.

 
At 3/26/2007 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very amusing,the story about Gangaji,its not amusing what happened,but peoples reactions to it,they hold Gurus in their own image,a projection,so when they see cracks appear in the perfect plaster of the guru its also appearing in their image of themselves,you see everyone is a guru!Thats truth,and its so simple its overlooked and projected as Greatness,gangajis husband had an affair!so what,talk about casting the first stone!people are people,enlightened or not,there is nothing to grasp,enlightenment is a dream,and even the word is tainted now,like the word God!The world will realise eventually that what its projecting and paying millions for is right under its nose,its like trying to see your own head without a mirror!useless,Gangaji,tolle,adyashanti are mirrors reflecting back,thats all folks!and when the mirror reflects ugliness then the trouble starts,everyone and everything is just fine,That is enlightenment,Reality,GOD,so give up the gurus and face yourself,The Truth will set you free!

 
At 4/29/2008 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do believe that at her core Gangaji has a lurking need for adulation. I once had a personal interaction with her that left me very puzzled.... I was exiting the building after a public meeting with her and Eli several years ago. The attendees were told to wait a few minutes to exit so that Gangaji and Eli could have time to leave. Yet, as I exited, I was surprised to find them standing out in front. I wanted to pass by, but she was so close I just said hello and told her my name. She remembered me from letters I had written, then in a strange tone said, "Well, I only hear from you every 3 or 4 years." I was so stunned I just stood there looking at her. She immediately caught herself and, in a more casual tone, said "oh, but that's okay". I wished her well and left, thinking, 'I've only known ABOUT you for three years'. In light of how little personal contact we actually had, it was an inappropriate thing for her to say to me. I felt a bit of a stinging reprimand, as if I had not been honoring the queen quite like I should be. It was like some curtain had been pulled aside and I saw behind her "public satsang facade".

I never put Gangaji on a pedestal or thought she can't be a real person with real human traits. That is not the problem. But after that day I have considered the possibility that much of the "Gangaji persona" may be balanced more upon an un-smashed need to be loved rather than true service to others.

Not long after that I was watching a video of an interview with her and Eli while they were in Germany. The interviwer asked a question on the subject of "helping the world become enlightened". Gangaji said, "I used to believe if everyone just loved me then the world would become enlightened". They all laughed and then Eli said, "Well, it turns out you were right." LOL.

I wondered if that was some kind of Freudian slip.

 
At 9/22/2009 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had my first and only experience of attending a retreat for a few days ( I left early ) with Gangaji. She really is the Oprah Winfrey of gurus. She has a nice, soft stage whisper in which she imparts such wisdom as " Awareness is God " and You " are Awareness " ( so ...). She talks a lot about god now and encourages every weepy member of her cult who comes on stage to hold her hand. Some of them have attended a number of her sessions and she had some of those on stage more than once to say she is " awesome ". The followers are primarily a group of neurotics of no particular discernment. They come from many hundreds of miles away to get her brand of " realization " i.e. that they are wonderful too! A real phony who will wind up as an evangelist, it seems - though she nets big dough doing what she does now, selling many books, records,dvds, etc. Watch he on Utube if youlike that sort of thing - don't waste your money on attanding her seances.

 
At 12/17/2009 11:29 AM, Blogger jgodels said...

After reading these 27 comments on "Guruphiliac" I realize that I have made most of these negative judgments about Gangaji myself over the nine years I've been going to see her off and on. Even with the plastic surgery, the flowing robes, the staging. . .all of it, there have always been kernels of hard truth about who we are underneath and in spite of all of it that Gangaji holds out to be clearly seen.

 
At 12/18/2009 9:12 PM, Blogger twosidesonecoin said...

I agree - there have always been kernels of hard truth about who we are underneath that Gangaji holds out to be clearly seen.

 
At 1/28/2010 6:05 PM, Blogger Dhamma said...

Wow, Jody, I totally agree with what you said about the difference between self-esteem and self-realization. Not sure if that's Gangaji's focus though (building self-esteem).
Anyway, I am really curious if you consider anyone, or some, to be real "gurus" or whatever you would call them, that you truly respect and trust, even though you see that many are false, greedy, etc.
Thanks,
Brandi

 
At 1/29/2010 1:02 AM, Blogger jody radzik said...

I am really curious if you consider anyone, or some, to be real "gurus" or whatever you would call them, that you truly respect and trust, even though you see that many are false, greedy, etc.

I am blessed to know many folks who would make fine gurus if they decided to do that. I also know a good number who are doing that exactly. You can find recommendations under the "Discriminators" heading on the right side of this page:

http://shimmeringdeadend.org/

My main beef, expressed via the blog you're now reading, is with those who use the idea that self-realization has rendered them as somehow specially divine, and somehow likely to be imbued with supernatural powers. Among those who know the Atman, some have more experience with the condition, but all that self-realization can really ever provide is the truth that you are no different from anyone else, good or bad, whether a guru or a guttersnipe.

 
At 7/11/2010 4:39 AM, Blogger GANGA said...

WHY DONT YOU ALLL START DOING SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIVES!!!

 
At 1/29/2011 11:32 AM, Blogger Edward A said...

I was wondering how the new slate of teachers would treat each other, besides ignoring each other as they have been. It seems to me that your
perceptions color your judgment. I agree with jacflash who called the post a triumph of dogma, conformism,
and religiosity. I might add his assessment of the Vedas is false and
not even close. And I have to wonder about his qualifications. Scriptural idolatry comes from preachers not gurus. A true guru always points back to your source.
If this seems like a predictable
mental trick, you obviously haven't faced yourself. The vocabulary only points to the experience, it isn't a stand in.
Of course it can be found on your own, but not by trashing others.
That is defined as false yoga, bogus. If you can face yourself
clearly, what does it matter what others do or don't? The scriptures also purport to point at the moon,
a Zen master would cut off the finger...so you would be left with the moon. If a teacher's manner is gentle, it isn't a sign of weakness, quite the contrary. Nor is meanness a sign of legitimacy.

 
At 5/15/2011 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If love itself walked in the door Im sure many people would find something to criticise. Perhaps if we were to stop trying to put existance into a neat little box we would find only acceptance, life is what it is.

 
At 1/11/2013 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dasa could simply make a list of all the things an authentic guru must and must not do so we will never again be misled by those who don't fit into the rigid mold.
Perhaps then all those people who have woken up under the guidance of Gangaji can be properly ashamed of themselves and start following Dasa instead. Please Dasa, tell us right from wrong. We're hanging on your every word.

 
At 9/10/2014 7:01 AM, Blogger bje said...

I have been trying to find the post that states: "Y'know, I have no brief for Gangaji et al, but the post you linked is a .... her bilking students, staying in five star hotels, clubbing baby seals, etc.", but I can't find it again. could someone please tell me where the information about Gangaji clubbing baby seals comes from and what lies behind it?

 
At 9/12/2016 12:41 AM, Blogger Linda Crespo said...

And why not?to recognize the truth means that you are superion or you pretend to be?I dont go around pretending be enlightened. Guruji does.Falseness is falseness. Why should anyone support that?

 
At 9/13/2016 1:11 AM, Blogger Jody Radzik said...

Anybody who acts as if they are a different kind of person because they are allegedly enlightened is working at cross-purpose to themselves if their students' understanding is the goal, IMO. Gangaji is definitely regarded as that, and I don't see her doing much to disabuse folks of the notion. After all, why would people go see her if they knew that enlightenment wasn't like a radio transmission you get from the power of the guru's enlightenment.

 

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