Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Holosync" Harris Holohammered On Twitter

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

As the regular reader of this blog knows, we generally go after spiritual teachers who claim to be God and use this claim as their primary marketing conceit. Woo-woo noise peddler and "The Secret" star Bill Harris doesn't appear to quite fit that bill, but like most others who make your spirituality their business, it has become quite clear that he's all about the money. At the moment, he's threatening legal action against Gp pal Duff McDuffee, a personal development industry critic and partner with Eric Schiller in a blog called Beyond Growth. A post McDuffee made on November 13 this year criticized the way Harris markets his "Holosync" sound meditation cds, also noting that up until the Death Lodge incident of October 8, 2009, James Arthur Ray was an enthusiastic endorser of Harris' products, (as well as being his ex-partner.) [Ed.note: As it turns out, James Arthur Ray had Holosync sessions scheduled during the days leading up to the Death Lodge tragedy.]

The result of all this is now a cease-and-desist letter demanding the removal and retraction of McDuffee's blog post, all at the approval of Harris and his lawyers. The heavy-handedness of the move belies a man desperate to protect a shaky business, and while it's definitely not pleasant to receive a letter like this, its claims appear to have more holes than a 20-year-old tin pail at the bottom of Lake Erie. [Ed.note: According to those in the know, Harris did about 20-million last year, so the shakiness isn't preventing him from getting his grind on.]

Since this gauntlet has been dropped there has been a Kelvin wave of support for McDuffee and against Harris on Twitter. The viral nature of this bad PR has the potential to do a lot more damage to the claimant than the defendant, but somehow, we don't think Harris has enough of a view around his own self-image to recognize bad PR if it took him out to an expensive dinner and then back to a hotel room for an all-limits-transgressed romp.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Another AoL Inner Circle Defection

File under: Gurubusting, Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

A few days back, we were notified about this fine work: Confessions of a Guraholic, the stories of an inner circle follower of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who just got fed up being fed horse manure by Sri Sri, in what is apparently an ever-increasingly desperate effort to keep people from leaving him. We'll let these words speak for themselves:
Sri Sri taught one had to transcend the intellect in order to reach the Self. It is in all the Hindu scriptures. However, unlike the scriptures, the AoL regarded the intellect as the cookie monster. If one questioned or doubted anything regarding the movement or the Master, one was accused of being “too intellectual. Drop the intellect!,” or “too in the head.”

For example, if someone raises questions about something that makes no sense, that person is considered to be "too in the head, too intellectual!" The person would be told to drop the mind. "You think too much. You have such a big ego. You will never transcend the ego like that.”

In fact, Ravishankar accused me several times of many things I did not do, not even in my dreams! He even accused me of encouraging a “poor boy” leave the organization when in fact the boy was encouraging me to leave!

In one occasion, I confronted him about these false accusations, without any hold back. He got violently upset (he does not like to be confronted). It became “bloody”. Someone else who was in the room, later confessed he wanted to hide under the table. He could not understand how I could speak to him that way. I gave him a dirty look. He instead laughed and said, “Don’t you see? I know it is all lies! He knows they are lies! Don’t you see? He just wants you to agree with him!”

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Kracki Hive Thrives Despite Clouds

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Clockin' Dollars, Gurus Doin' Time, Satscams, and The Siddhi of PR

India's best newspaper dishes the dirt on the Bhagavan Kalki's money habits, which are largely about siphoning off donations to buy things like cars, houses, and dummy companies for your progeny in the States:
The report dated January 24, 2003 states that MM Giri alias Acharya Anandagiri, who was a student at the Jeevashram School where the ‘godman’ was earlier employed as the administrator, admitted in his fund flow statement (from 1998 to 2001) “that he had made gifts of Rs 2.53 crore” to Krishna and Preetha, Kalki’s son and daughter-in-law
Of course, the Kracki and his wife/co-conspirator are doing better than ever as a result of this latest brouhaha. There's definitely something to be said for the power of denial as a zeal-inducer in the empty-headed. Apparently, the authorities have been less than anxious to investigate the Krackster. Who is surprised about that?

Whatever, we're bored of the lame huckster and his faux goddess sidekick. Let those who believe, have them. Maybe a glimmer of civil responsibility does exist somewhere within India that can be brought to bear on their operation. It doesn't hurt to hope, as long as you don't expect. The turban is tipped to Tehelka for putting it out there.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prakashaka BOOM!'s Latest Legal Bust

File under: Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

[Ed.note: Once again, our valiant Austin correspondent has the scoop on the continuing legal saga of Swami Prakashanand Saraswati of the Barsana Dham ashram and temple in Texas, who is accused of molesting underage females in his room.]

By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident

Nov. 19th, 2009 — At the junction of Darden Hills Road and Rural Route 1826, you can see the 90-foot high tower of the 35,000-square-foot temple built by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (not with his own hands — or money — of course: it’s just an expression) rising above the hills and trees two miles away to the east.

Less than a mile to the west of this intersection, Mr. Saraswati resides in a home that looks to be about 2,000 or 3,000 square-feet on maybe one acre of land. To get to Austin and all points east, he has to be driven right past his 220-or-so-acre Barsana Dham ashram, which abuts RR 1826.

By Texas law he has not been allowed to enter his ashram since May of 2008.

Despite multiple requests made by his lawyers on his behalf to return him to his kingdom, Saraswati has been told “no,” not just once, but a total of four times — twice by a Hays County judge, once by the Texas Third Court of Appeals, and Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

You KNOW that has got to bite the big one for him.

If you’ve ever followed a “guru,” you understand that “No” is not a word he or she hears very often. Certainly not from his or her groveling minions.

Having lived in his ashram for one and half decades, I'm pretty sure I can guess the party-line Prakashanand and his inner circle are feeding the others to explain his inability to bend Texas criminal courts to his will. Terms like “kaliyug,” “evil,” and “demons” have likely been thrown around like cheap pieces of candy at a celebration.

And lest you think that the State of Texas is just being mean spirited or simply doesn’t like his face, please note that the reason Saraswati is not allowed back into this ashram is that he AGREED to this condition at his first hearing after his arrest on April 24, 2008, on 20 counts of indecency with a child. All he wanted then was his passport back so he could return to India. He got what he wanted. He said he agreed. He signed on the dotted line. And he happily flew back to India to make love to or whatever he does with his master, Kripalu Maharaj (aka, Ram Tripathi).

That was fine and dandy until he flew back to the U.S. a few months later and realized (ooops!) he might have been a bit hasty in giving up his freedom to enter Barsana Dham. Unfortunately for him he signed a contract with the State of Texas, and in this state they expect you to uphold your agreements.

But, as the experienced historical recreationist that he is, he set out to make up a big bogus legal case about “religious freedom,” which his lawyers claimed he was “being denied.” Luckily, Texas State legal officials were not born yesterday, nor are they stupid enough to be conned by a fake guru. So he has been SOL on convincing them to adopt his warped worldview.

I know it’s hard, Saraswati; but it’s time to face the facts: The answer to your request to return to Barsana Dham (the scene of your accused criminal acts of children molestation) have been and are always going to be, not just “No,” but “Hell, NO!”

It’s time for you to take it like a man! (Get used to it — you’ll be in jail soon enough!)

[Ed.note: two updates soon followed this dispatch:] Late breaking development -- JUST learned that Prak's trial date has been changed from January 11th to April 4th. Also, just learned today that he bolted back to India yesterday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Twisted World Of The American Guru

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

We received a copy of American Guru a few months ago, but have slacked at actually opening it. That said, this review reveals the gist of it, that Andrew Cohen gives every appearance of being yet another personality-disordered, adoration-addicted control-freak cult leader:
Cohen mandated – directly or indirectly – actions such as slapping the face of someone for showing too much ego or pride; banishing followers, at least temporarily, for alleged misbehavior; or requiring followers to shave their heads as a form of humility. In one incident recounted in the book, Yenner says a woman who spoke up to Cohen had red paint thrown in her face as punishment.
Yenner himself kept coming back for more, getting fleeced in the process:
In 1998, he says, he gave Cohen a gift of $10,000 to thank him for being his mentor. A year later, Yenner, told that he was exhibiting too much pride, says he was banished from Foxhollow for betraying Cohen and his teachings.

Increasingly exhausted, desperate, and almost mentally broken, Yenner says, he sought to regain favor by offering EnlightenNext an $80,000 inheritance from his father. Things got only more bizarre after that – Yenner was told to go to Australia to stay with another out-of-favor follower. Six days after his arrival Down Under, Yenner says, Cohen ordered him to return to the United States.

After another cycle of banishment and forgiveness, Yenner was told he was no longer welcome at Foxhollow. “I felt nothing,” he writes. “I decided to leave the community for good.” That night, he stayed in a hotel in the tiny town of Florida in the Berkshires. “I could see for miles,” he writes. “I began to feel joy and liberation.”
Playing God takes two, someone to be God and someone to believe in them. This provides the glue that holds a cult together through each successive episode of the leader's pathological narcissism. What appears to be insanity from an outsider's perspective gets filtered as God's tough love within the group. Yenner and others were paying a lot for that love. Here's to hoping they finally get to see that they got their money's worth for having survived such a towering example of enlightenwrong.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cult Guru Playbook

File under: Satscams

A commenter named "h" just graced us with what we're calling the cult guru playbook:
  1. Have a set of group rules they expect the followers to adopt and self impose
  2. Be charismatic leaders who self-proclaim enlightenment
  3. Have a drive to recruit as many people (especially westerners) into their organization as possible. Recruitment is often labeled as sadhana, or spiritual practice to help the devotee
  4. Enjoy tax-exempt status—hidden behind charitable works without any proof where the donations go
  5. Insist upon dropping the mind and ego with full surrender to the leader
  6. Brag about their devotees spiritual progress, as if in a marketing campaign for more souls
  7. Employ chanting to Hindu deities in their meditation practices
  8. Employ questionable breathing techniques, usually some form of hyperventilation, inducing mental foginess mistaken as altered level of consciousness
  9. Use contracts, or fear, to ensure their meditation techniques are kept secret from the outside world
  10. Charge money for programs while insisting they do charity work for the less fortunate. If someone can not afford to pay for the program, they are not allowed in
  11. Encourage followers to share their experiences—a form of group control
  12. Have their own group lingo or slang terms
  13. Perform rituals, chants and devotional songs to not only deities, but to the guru him/herself
  14. Questions regarding the group or leader are not allowed
  15. Devotees all insist that their master is the true master and has the only path to enlightenment. These devotees use vague personal experiential stories as proof
  16. Devotees believe and accept everything the guru says
  17. Donations encouraged. A way of giving back to the guru who has given so much to the devotee
  18. Guru quite pleasant and jovial with the newcomers. Yet easily angered and volatile in closed quarters or with the inside group
  19. Group meditation practices, clothing styles, food choices, music, books, knick-knacks, etc, gives the group cohesion. Establishes an us vs. them dynamic
  20. Fictitious anecdotes of the leader to ensure devotees see him as holier than them. Stories are based in myth and beliefs with no way to prove they are true
  21. Have crazed devotees that worship them
  22. Encourage (or don't discourage) families to break up to persue spiritual advancement under the guru
  23. Instill a form of fear to discourage devotees from abandoning the guru/group. The devotee is basically told that to abandon the group means losing all his/her spiritual progress made under the guru
  24. Have some form of meditation on the guru or his photo
  25. Start with an affordable entry level form of meditation practice. Benefits of which are usually peace and health
  26. Insist on additional meditation levels for spiritual advancement—often with higher costs
  27. Volunteerism is considered spiritual practice and often costs money to volunteer
  28. Have lots of stories of enlightened devotees, but you never seem to meet one
  29. Have ties to politicians, high ranking officials and authorities. Celebrities are a bonus
  30. Put followers through intense physical, emotional and mental challenges (i.e., sitting in painful positions for extended time, emotional sharing with strangers, fancy words with quick witted tongue), thereby lowering normal judgment process
That's a fairly comprehensive list that reeks of ex-insidership. Pranams to h for sharing his or her insights here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

More Online Trouble For Nithyananda

File under: Gurubusting and The siddhi of PR

Some of the best comment battles on this blog have occurred with Nithyananda devotees. But we're beginning to see the defenders become exposers, as the folks who get close can now see behind the curtain, providing the information they need to opt out of the charade, as this brave soul has done with his blog, The Truth About the Cult of Nithyananda:
For all you sweet devotees of Nithyananda's La-La Land, those who believe in this illusion and falsehood, you must read the book, “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. Pay particular attention to 217-218 on cults psychology that is applied on you by your loving master, Nithyananda.
A disgruntled ex is no big deal, but we know of three very inner-circle devotees who've split like this. It only reinforces what we saw from the start. Nithyananda's oversized personality isn't divine, it's just persuasive. Instead of a saint, he's at best, a deluded con man, and at worst, a knowing one.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sri Sri's Slanted Health Advice

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We were more than mildly disappointed when we encountered this uncritical republication of a health article from an Indian press release service on Lance Armstrong's livestrong.com. The article in question is little more than an advertisement for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living cult, and we find it to be almost dishonest in its claims about Art of Living health practices. For instance:
Elaborating on this, Dr. Manikantan and Dr. Nisha Manikantan, senior ayurvedic doctors at Sri Sri Ayurveda centre said, “Swine flu invades the body because of a breakdown in immunity. Ayurveda offers simple and effective remedies to boost immunity and build resistance. Tea made from Laxmi Taru (botanical name: Simarouba) leaves, Tulsi, Amla and Amrut (Giloy) acts as an immunity enhancer.
First of all, these clowns aren't medical doctors, Lance. And their oversimplification of how the flu works is very misleading. You'll get swine flu with a perfectly healthy and normal immune system as well. While a weakened immune system is more vulnerable, folks get the flu because they lack immunity to a new virus, not because they have weak immunity. But to cast the problem this way allows Sri Sri's shills to hawk their own products as the solution to the swine flu, and that could be more than a little dangerous.

The article goes on to make more completely uncritical claims about ayurvedic flu remedies:
“To counter air-borne swine flu viruses, Sambarani dhoop (loban stems) should be burnt in the house twice a day. Sambarani is a very potent atmospheric sterilser”, the doctors added.
It doesn't take a medical publisher to know there is no conclusive proof that Sambarani dhoop has any anti-viral properties at all in the air. Just because it's too stinky for mosquitoes doesn't mean it's going to have any effect on semi-alive microscopic disease particles.

You wouldn't expect this article to end without a little pranayama pimping by Sri Sri:
Sri Sri also said, “In addition, our mind also plays an important role in our immunity. Whenever we panic and have fear, our immunity level goes down. Practices like pranayama and meditation play a vital role in reducing panic and keeping ourselves calm.”

Independent studies conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (AIIMS) and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru (NIMHANS) have empirically proved that practices such as pranayama and meditation boosts immunity at least three-fold, he said.
While we are quite convinced of the many health benefits of meditation and adjacent practices, the last sentence clearly suggests that Sri Sri's meditation products will treble the effectiveness of your immune system. What they fail to disclose is exactly what they were measuring as immune health. Perhaps meditation was shown to increase a certain chemical marker that suggests immune health. This still doesn't mean that the whole system is three times more healthy than it would be without joining the Art of Living cult.

Which is exactly what this little PR stunt is about, to use fear of the swine flu to position Sri Sri as a savior. He does this all the time, usually by showing up at the site of conflict to grandstand in an attempt to better position himself for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

We watched Lance Armstrong win the Tour 7-times, and podium this year. We are in just as much awe as anyone else, but he really needs to tighten up his editorial policies a bit. As it stands, he's allowed his site to be invaded with the Art of Living virus, an organism that hosts all manner of myth, ignorance, superstition and one man's continuing quest to climb up to worldwide fame on the backs of the poor, downtrodden, and easily duped.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wealth Guru Kills 2, Sends 16 To Hospital

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

Colorado gurubuster and self-help industry critic Duff McDuffee alerted us to this AP news article which details the death of two and the hospitalization of 16 after a sweat lodge run by New Age™ self-help and prosperity guru James Arthur Ray:
Two people died and an estimated 19 others were taken to hospitals after being overcome while sitting in a sauna-like sweat lodge during a Sedona spiritual retreat, authorities said Friday...

Sheriff's homicide investigators were working to determine what happened and whether any criminal actions might have been a factor in the incident, D'Evelyn said. Investigators were at the resort Friday interviewing the retreat director, staff and guests, including some who told detectives they paid up to $9,000 for the multi-day program.
That's an expensive way to go, especially when most bridges are free to jump from.

Duff has been tracking Ray for awhile, coming to the conclusion that:
The total abundance James Arthur Ray is really enjoying is an abundance of total bullshit.
And now he's in some really deep shit, which, according to Ray's own professed beliefs, he attracted to himself and is completely responsible for.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Criminal Trial Of Prakashanand Saraswati Delayed — What A Surprise!!

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

[Ed.note: Our Austin correspondent and former member of the tainted temple in Texas where little girls allegedly got groped and diddled, comes through with another fine report on the ongoing legal saga of the God-faking Kreepalu protegé, Swami Prakashanand, known fauxfectionately to us as Swami Prakashaka BOOM!]

By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident

October 6th, 2009 — As Eric Cartman on “South Park” might say: “Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well” — if he heard that the trial has been delayed in the case of The State of Texas vs. Prakashanand Saraswati on 20 counts of indecency with a child. Originally set to start on November 2, 2009, the trial was reset today to commence on January 11, 2010, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Truth be told, many who know Prakashanand are not surprised. We expected the trial would be delayed all along.

I’m mean, after all, if you were an 80-year-old man who has had hundreds of people licking your heels and kissing another body part for the past several decades, would you be looking forward to standing trial for crimes you knew you were 100 percent guilty of committing?

Before you answer, consider the fact that you most likely would have squirreled away a significant amount of cash in places law-abiding citizens would never think to look in a country half a world away. I know that I would much rather live off-the-map in some remote village in India for the rest of my days on earth than in the Texas State prison system (where, if I were a “guru,” the other inmates might not treat me with the respect to which I’ve become accustomed).

A great deal of legal paper filing occurred over the past couple of weeks preceding today’s notice of the trial delay as stated in the Statesman. Here’s a little more insight:

  • Prakashanand’s high-priced lawyers motioned for, and were granted, discovery evidence in the form of the testimonies of the two female witnesses in the case. This, presumably, is the first time his legal counsel has had a clear view of the victims’ side of the case. I can only imagine the laundry bill after that shoe dropped.

  • Next Prakashanand’s lawyers requested to subpoena another person whom they claim “is material to the pending criminal prosecution” and without whom they claim “the Defendant in this pending criminal prosecution will in all reasonable likelihood be denied his rights of compulsory process.” Meanwhile, the lawyers had not yet seen this particular person’s personal report to the Hays County Sherriff’s office. Once they did read that report I can only imagine it was another “spit-hit-the-fan” moment.

  • Finally, yesterday the Hays County Public Access Website reported that the District Attorney for the case filed an application for 14 (yes, that’s fourteen! subpoenas). The motion cited eight people from the Barsana Dham ashram, located southwest of Austin, including four members of the five-member JKP-Barsana Dham management team.
The only member of the management team not on the subpoena request list is Prakashanand himself. After all, he doesn’t need to be subpoenaed. He’s the Defendant. He’ll be there on January 11th, 2010, to have his day in court and prove to the world that he is innocent of child molestation. Right? I mean he will, won’t he? (I kind of like the reporter’s commentary: “If the trial does get underway then …”)

Perhaps Prakashanand will even perform a few divine miracles for those of us in the courtroom to prove once and for all that he really is a God-realized Saint. Lord knows, he hasn’t performed any miracles yet surrounding his arrest and the nearly year-and-a-half drawn out legal battle!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nithyananda's Little Asuras Play The Terrorism Card

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

When their threat of violence landed with a thud (ending up on the desk of a local law enforcement officer,) Nithyananda's little demons had to come up with a new plan; to whit: make fraudulent claims of terrorism, (and even more laughably, black magic,) to the FBI:
Did you guys know there are sufficient laws to put fanatics and fundamentalists like these blog posters behind bars? I have heard that there have already been complaints to FBI and there is an investigation in progress.

There is news that these posters who abuse Nithyananda and other swamis are black magic practitioners who want to destroy hindu dharma and tradition.

Your druggist and black magic background is well-known. You cant escape by feigning innocence. One of the other posters in this site is also known to practice black majic in his yard with skulls and skeletons. There is clear evidence. I know that there have been life threatening letters received and you and some other posters on this site and others are in the list of suspects. Investigation going on. Wait and see.

Can anyone prove that this website is not run by some sort of terrorist group? Already the druggist connection of the blog owner and some suspected posters is well-known. Someone should be looking into the defamation and terrorism angle on this? When then [sic] happens, the number of days these bloggers spend wallowing in filth in the name of freedom would be numbered.
Oh yeah, they also threw in some good old fashioned obscenity:
You a**ole Jody, dont you have any morals. you seem to lick your dick and live in shit and f*k your mother everyday and what else can be expected out of you.

can you also write about what your favorite position in which you f*k your mom...

and whose sh*t do you like the most....what do you think when you have your faced burried in your dad's ass with your tongue caught deep in it....
Nice, eh? That Nithyananda sure knows how to instill love in his devotees. Too bad they're dumb as paint. While we doubt that anyone has talked to the FBI, we're quite sure if we are investigated, they will see, as anyone else who actually reads this site can see, that we are merely skeptical of superstitious claims made by gurus, and we drive home the point by making fun of them. There is no hate here, let alone terroristic threats. In fact, there has never been any call to violence in a blog post, outright or implied, since we launched in March 2005.

Apparently, Nithyananda plays to the cheap seats in India, although now we are curious as to how far up the chain of command this little operation is being orchestrated. What all these folks are failing to see is that for every reaction against this site, many more people come to read it. Not that we're asking for it, but the whole thing is playing right into our hands. Here's a hint, folks: ignore us. We're just one teeny weeny voice with very little credibility, although with these latest efforts, even that is sure to be augmented in contrast to the complete lack of credibility of these attacks.

Oh, one more thing. Pray that the FBI does not launch an investigation, because if they do, they're going to be coming after you for making false statements to a federal officer. That is likely to land you in jail and result in an investigation of Nithyananda and his org, perhaps resulting in a visa denial the next time he wants to come to the States. The boy wonder guru better reel in his ranks before they blow it big time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Defined: Hands Where They Don't Belong

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

A reader sent us an interesting photo this morning:


Now you know what we mean when we say "hands where they don't belong."

Source. Original source.

Update: According to a commenter, this is a photo of the mostly well-respected, recently-deceased yoga guru Krishna Pattabhi Jois of Ashtanga Yoga. That being the case, this is still wildly inappropriate, in our opinion.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dahngerous "Yoga"

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Clockin' Dollars and Hands Where They Don't Belong

A reader turned us on to a fine piece of investigative journalism about Korean guru Ilchi Lee's Dahn Hak, aka Dahn Yoga in the States, an org that's chock full of the usual culty nastiness in which lives are wrecked while the cash gets clocked:
Shipley, now 25, is one of 27 former Dahn practitioners who filed suit in Arizona in May claiming the group subjected them to psychological manipulation and fraudulently induced them to spend thousands of dollars on Dahn yoga classes and retreats in Sedona, Ariz. and other places. The punishing techniques, they say, included forced isolation from friends and families, exercises like bowing 3,000 times all night long without breaks, disciplining members by sticking their heads in the toilet and making them lick other members' feet, and having them hold certain poses, like the push-up position, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. On top of those charges, the suit alleges that Ilchi Lee, the 57-year-old Korean founder of Dahn and its spiritual leader, sexually preyed on young female disciples.
Dahn makes its money the traditional way, squeezing it out of hapless initiates with "money training," ridiculous quackery and straight-up pseudo-science:
Dahn centers sell a variety of products it deems healing-related. Nina Miller, a plaintiff in the Arizona suit, is seeking reimbursement for the $1,800 she spent on a gold painted "Okum turtle"--an item purportedly made from "living metallic materials" that "optimizes harmony within the body." For $450 Dahn sells a kit that includes a Brain Respiration Quotient, a transmitter that uses light and sound to supposedly stimulate the brain, and Power Brains, a brain-shaped handheld vibrator that is said to increase awareness during meditation.

Testimonials on the company's Web site claim brain wave vibration has lowered high blood pressure, corrected lazy eyes and healed the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. But the company cannot point to any independent peer-reviewed studies vouching for its effectiveness. Brian Cummings, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, says calling it pseudoscience would be generous. "Exercising, stretching and meditating may be beneficial to health. But there is no science behind the claim that vibrations in the body alter brain activity in a meaningful way," says Cummings.
And guess where all the money goes:
Dahn claims that founder Ilchi Lee is no longer directly involved in the company but instead runs a consulting firm, BR Consulting, which owns the intellectual property used by Dahn Yoga. (Lee is seeking to dismiss the suit against him on this basis as well.) But according to the plaintiffs, Ilchi Lee controls them all. They claim Dahn's profits are transferred to Lee and used to fund a lifestyle that includes a horse ranch in Arizona, high stakes gambling, a yacht and a private jet. forbes confirmed that BR Consulting owns the jet, the horse ranch and some residential properties.
In the end, you'll take it in the end for the guru and like it. This is the operating principle of almost every bit-time guru's satsang. Lee is no exception, and apparently, despite all the bad press he's generating in the States, there's still a full, rich market of the disaffected from which he can continue to steal.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Nithyananda's Love Is Coming To Get Us

File under: Gurus Who Threaten

For those investigating Nithyananda, this is the type of devotee that he is attracting:
BAD KARMA has left a new comment on your post ""Nithyananda Is Not Who He Claims To Be"":

MR GURU BUSTING JODY RAZDIK..

Ur all safe here on the internet are nt you.. bad mouthing spiritual teachers and their followers..

Mr Razdik I now know everything about you including where you live.. U are not safe anymore.. I know who u are.. you dont who i am..

Do u believe in KARMA dude.. Ur going down one way or another.. someday our paths will cross and believe me you will not enjoy meeting me in person..
Nice. That's the love that Nithyananda is fostering among his devotees.

"By ye works (and devotees) ye will know him."

BTW: That's Radzik. "D" before the "z."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hope For Enlightenment

File under: Blogs of Note and Folk Theories

We began publishing this blog as a way express our frustration with common depictions of the what is called "enlightenment." Most commercially-successful gurus use these ideas to promote themselves to potential donators devotees. We believe these ideas are more likely preventing enlightenment, and so we harry the gurus who greedily pollute the world with this ignorance.

Over the course of the last 5 years, we've corralled these notions into a "folk theory of enlightenment." Recently, we've caught echoes of this idea in the words of Dzogchen rinpoches who are quoted by the bad-ass Buddhists of Twitter, but today we found the folk theory stated as a list of expectations about enlightenment on a blog called Open Enlightenment:
  • Enlightenment is the transformation into a God, and it only happens to very special people.
  • Enlightenment will confer specific knowledge of everything, ever. The enlightened person knows what happened at the beginning of the universe, everything that is happening now, and everything that will happen right up to the very end. The enlightened person can provide an answer to all the Big Questions, because he/she knows God personally. He/she’s in on the plan.
  • Enlightenment is the terrifying knowledge of Absolutely Nothing.
  • Enlightenment is the death of the self while still alive.
  • Enlightenment can only happen to men.
  • Enlightenment is the complete destruction of the universe, right in front of your eyes.
  • Enlightenment is a shocking, earth-shattering, cataclysmic, reality-tearing, mind-destroying, adrenalin-fueled mystical explosion.
  • Enlightenment is the realisation that the world is an illusion, and so the enlightened person can walk through walls, fly, teleport, and perform all kinds of other miracles.
  • Enlightenment is waking up from the dream of reality.
  • Enlightenment is knowledge of heaven, hell, past lives, spiritual realms, Gods, Goddesses, dead people, angels, elves, pixies and ascended masters.
  • Enlightenment is the end of suffering, pain, depression, despair, anger, hate, revulsion and disgust. It will heal my damaged self, and preserve who I am for ever in eternal bliss. I will never hurt again.
  • Enlightenment is perpetual bliss.
  • Enlightenment is an incomprehensible non-experience that promises nothing, and it is debatable if it actually has any benefit.
A few months ago we published a similar list, which at the time we called the folk theory of guru-based spirituality. The idea has come a long way since then, and now that we're working on a conference presentation about the folk theory of enlightenment, finding Alan's blog has been a great confirmation.

Open Enlightenment is a lighthouse spinning a beam of high-intensity clarity for those lost in the morass of myth, miracle-mongering and superstition that is the commercial spiritual marketplace today. It definitely should be read by anyone who seeks to understand enlightenment in the context of what a big-time guru is telling them. It's so good that we may just decide to retire from this blog entirely.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sri Sri Rips Off A Rip-Off

File under: Gurubusting

Bangalore is being overrun by yuppie beggars taking courses at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living ashram:
Men and women trying to camouflage their affluent breeding and chic clothes are going about begging in south Bangalore. People at signals were startled yesterday to find smart, English-speaking men and women seeking alms. The beggars, with grime smeared on their faces, looked like characters out of a college play. Motorists, shoppers, and pedestrians dropped small change into their hands, but continued to gape. The beggars bought food with the money they had earned from begging, and ate in public.

MiD DAY discovered that they were disciples of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who runs the Art of Living spiritual movement from his headquarters on Kanakapura. The beggars, it turned out, were well-bred professionals told by their instructors to go "lose the ego" by begging. "Our areas are frequented by educated beggars from Sri Sri's ashram," said a resident of BTM Layout.
"Lose your ego by glorifying mine" is Sri Sri's credo. And don't think for a second that these losers get to keep the cash they panhandled.

And as it turns out, Sri Sri could have cribbed this exercise from any number of sources, including perhaps this one:
Mid-March this year, I travelled all the way from Australia to the United States at a cost of around $12,000 Aust Dollars (including the workshop admission fee) to attend David Neagle’s workshop “Experience The Reality of Success”. The main thrust of the advertising which enticed me to make the very expensive decision to attend the workshop is that everyone who attends will actually Experience the Reality of Success. Here is an actual quote from one of David Neagle’s promotional teleseminars “… we called it Experience the Reality of Success, because that’s exactly what you do. You experience it for real. We actually show you how to manifest money from nothing – bang! Now you might say, it’s got to be some sort of dog and pony show. It’s a trick. No it’s not. We actually do it. You start with nothing and manifest money. You really do. And if I’m lying or exaggerating you can have your money back” (The Art of Success [AOS] teleseminar Session 4 about 1hr.12mins in).

Now as to the last part, I contend that David was both “lying and exaggerating” because whilst it’s true that we did start with nothing, what we did was to go out on the streets and beg for money. That was the way we were to “manifest” the money. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between vibrationally manifesting money and begging for money on the streets.
Yeah. At least with street begging, you might actually get something.

One scam is called "Art of Living," the other, "Art of Success." Too much synchronicity for you? Us too.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"Nithyananda Is Not Who He Claims To Be"

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

This turned up in the Guruphiliac forum the other day. It appears that another high-ranking member of the Nithyananda's inner circle has come down with a case of clear vision. All we can say is, "YIKES!"
Nithyananda is not who he claims to be

He has great videos on youtube. His talks can be mesmerizing and convincing. He does exude energy - I have felt it strongly. He is incredibly intelligent and knows how to say the right things to people. I had fallen for him quite strongly after feeling his energy throughout my body with just his touch on my forehead. I fell head over heels in love with him as much as someone could fall in love and devotion to a guru. I found myself doing everything he was espousing. I even legally changed my name, even my passport and driver's license, etc. I ran at every chance to see him, to be near him. I thought of him every minute of the day. I prayed to him and held him above all else.

But, there were too many little inconsistencies that I noticed. What he said in public and what he did in private were vastly different. He does brainwash people - if we have any doubt in our minds about him or his movement, we are told to "drop the doubt, drop the mind" lest we never reach enlightenment because of our "own fault" in not have "dropped our minds." He knows how to manipulate each person - he is master of the way people's psychology is, the way people think and believe, our psyche. He doesn't allow his ashramites to sleep - they get anywhere from no sleep to a few hours a day. He makes them work, work, work to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. He only believes in propagating his name, and acquiring money - not true religion. Religion is only a front just for outward appearance. He actually disrepects Gods in private sessions saying bad derogatory comments about them. I've seen him belittle and berate his ashramites shamelessly - it is emotional torture and humiliation. He claims it is "for their own good" to help them "lose their ego" so that they become enlightened but this is just a bogus double-speak in order to ill treat them as he wishes. He is a very sick, sick man who is egotistical, interested in fame and fortune, enjoys torturing people in a number of ways-mental, physical, emotional, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He doesn't mind stepping on people's toes, nay their heads, in order to get ahead. And everyone who is still in the movement are a bunch of stupid fools because they (most if not all) can see the signs but fail to acknowledge them and only believe his double-speak. They choose to stay in ignorance because they have fallen for his total crap words.

I urge those still in the movement to look past his words, and don't just believe what you see him do in public. He puts on a great humble and gracious act in public. See his actions in more private and intimate settings - this is a very dangerous man. Trust your gut instinct. Don't drop your mind - it's the only thing that is showing you the red flags to alert you to danger. Good luck to you and God Bless because now only the Real God can help you get out of this mess. I am thankful to the Real God for helping to show me the way out and save my life and my soul.
Often, bad gurus like this can work great as an impetus to come to trust your own truth apart from his/her flimflamming. That is a very big step in the life of the sincere seeker, if you asked us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Maya's A Bitch—A Blow-by-Blow Of The Latest Blow To Prakashanand's Status As Ruler of Maya

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Doin' TIme, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

[Ed.note: We just love it when an insider comes through with the straight skinny. All are invited to fill us in on the shenanigans of their present or former gurus. Much thanks to the soul who's provided today's tasty treat covering a Gp fave, Swami Prakashaka BOOM!]

By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident

How much does it cost to have some highfaluting lawyers appeal a judge's ruling in the Texas Court of Appeals? Estimates range from $75,000 and $100,000. For that kind of money you would think that maya would bend a little to a swami's demands. But no such luck. On Wednesday June 24th, Prakashanand Saraswati was thwarted for the third time in his efforts to return to his 250-some-acre, multi-million-dollar ashram southwest of Austin.

He's been blocked from entering his former sanctuary since May 3rd, 2008, by his own agreement with the court after he was arrested on 20 counts of indecency with two children who grew up there.

On the day Prakashanand's legal "team" made their plea to the Texas Court of Appeals, they repeated one mantra over and over to the three judges: "Barsana Dham has 54 adult residents and no children." (I wonder if they were using japa beads?)

What an odd refrain. And an obvious stretch of the truth. While it's true that no children "live" there, plenty visit and stay overnight in the ashram's many guest quarters. Plus, one regular teenage visitor sleeps in the temple in a room roughly 100 yards from Prakashanand's bedroom door. What's more, Barsana Dham holds "Family Camps" a couple of times a year -- during which many families, including their children, spend several nights. And there are children running around the place on any given day of the week and during holidays. The place is a kid magnet!

Is that why an accused pedophile wants back inside his ashram? I don't know the answer to that (though I can guess). But one has to wonder why he would spend so much time and money trying to get back into this particular piece of God's green earth before his trial—where he can allegedly prove his innocence and get on with his life.

After all, the man has multiple other homes around the world. He's got three suites in three ashrams in India, one in New Zealand, and one in LA. He can stay in any devotee's home anywhere he travels. Why, oh why, does he need so desperately to be back in Barsana Dham?

There is only one reason: Keeping the myth alive.

I mean, come on: How must it look that a God-realized Saint cannot control maya? How must it appear to those 54 residents that their Lord and master is so powerless? How must it look to new people that the guru can't even appear in the flesh in his own ashram?

In the motion to the Court of Appeals, filed in January 2009, Prakashanand's lawyers claimed that by not allowing him into Barsana Dham, the court "violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution." They cried that he was deprived of practicing his faith. Oh. My. God.

Hey, Prakashanand, I thought you taught us to practice titiksha and do our devotions every second of every day no matter if we are hungry, cold, hot, sick, or whatever. Come on, buddy. A little practice-what-you-preach would be nice.

Oh and I love that this man is suddenly so keen on his own rights under U.S. law—meanwhile, has no qualms about breaking them to suit his, uh, needs.

Meanwhile, back in May 2008, at his first hearing, Prakashanand's lawyers asked the Hays County Judge to amend the conditions of his bond, asking for the return of his passport, the reduction of his bond, and for access back into Barsana Dham. They added: "We'd like to focus on the returning of the passport and travel to India as a change in conditions."

After a few minutes of deliberation in the judge's chambers, both parties agreed that he could have his passport back, but have no further access inside of Barsana Dham (because that's where the crimes allegedly occurred). When they returned to the courtroom, the judge stated clearly: "[J]ust for the record, the passport will be returned with the additional conditions that you have agreed on, including the new bond" (which was $10 million to ensure his return for the trial). Prakashanand's counsel responded, "That's correct, Your Honor."

Famous last words. By August 20th, his lawyers were back in the courtroom begging for their client's access to Barsana Dham. The judge said "no." They tried again on Sept. 29th. The judge again said "no." So it was off to the Court of Appeals. And the resulting third blow to Prakashanand's status as controller of maya.

My favorite line of the Texas Court of Appeals oral argument is this: "Appellant's (Prakashanand's) inability to return to Barsana Dham was no less a hindrance to his ability to practice his religion or associate with his followers in May than it was in August, or than it is today."

OH, BURN! Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Appeals, J. Woodfin Jones, do you know who you just smacked down? May I touch your feet?

What I really love, what really brings a smile to my face, what is truly a great practical joke by God—is that every time Prakashanand is driven to his way-more-modest Austin-area residence (in a devotee's home 2.5 miles down the road on RR 1826), he has to drive right past his resplendent Barsana Dham ashram.

Oh what a cruel, cruel world. ;-)

[Ed.note: Check this out for a bit more exposure of the hijinks at Barsana Dham, and at the mother org, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat.]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amma's Love Comes To Get Us, Kali's Comes Raging Back

File under: The Siddhi of PR

This is what Amma's love is doing to us right now:
After reading through Jody Radzik’s posts on Google Groups (under his name “Jodyrrr”), it became apparent to me that he has a compulsive need to be “right”. Jody trashed and bashed anyone who dissented with him and accused them of “projecting” and having “uninformed opinions”. Although Jody ranted about realization (claiming he is self-realized), he broke down into shrieking hissy fits, labeling (or is it “projecting”) others as being “stupid and crass”. Sri Sri Jodyrrr (the self-professed Saint and Mahatma) exhibited (and continues to exhibit) the behaviors of ordinary, over-emotional and non-realized humans.
What do we keep telling y'all? Enlightened or not, we all poop on the same pot. It's interesting how the authors are accusing us of claiming to know what we're talking about as a way to attack our credibility.

Thank God we've little reason to take exception to any of this, except for this one little bit:
Apparently, Jody Radzik converses with Mother Kali on a regular basis and hears her voice in his head. Sounds rather spooky, if you ask me.
Besides being one of the only claims about us without a reference to back it up, it's just plain untrue. The author is either accidentally or purposefully conflating our description of a guru (who happened to be an Ammachi devotee) we followed for a few months in 1999, who did claim to hear the voice of Mother Kali. In fact, that was the main reason we left his satsang, we couldn't get with what "Mother" was "telling" him.

Other than that, this is a well-researched piece. We regard it as a recognition of our good work that the authors took so much care in putting it together. Truly a wonderful example of Ammachi's love in action.

PS: Swami C. isn't our guru; he's just a friend.

Update: Kali's love comes raging back to counteract Amma's love in the form of this counter-counter-protest site, just announced today:
The creation of this website which attacks the critics of Ammachi does nothing more than prove what many of us have been starting to realize: The "hugging saint" and those who follow her are not as peaceful and loving as they would have you believe. Keep an eye on that website to see how devotees of Ammachi behave toward those who have been outspoken about the organization. We will also keep track of the site and will post anything relevant here. We have read many times that critics of Ammachi have been attacked in the past, but this new website really shows and proves their behavior.
We swear on Ma's luscious Lotus Feet that we do not have anything to do with this website, and we have no idea who the author is, either. But the turban comes off and gets thrown on the floor again this week for another fine piece of work.

Update: Today we were informed that the Cult of the Hugging Saint website is back up on the net.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Makes Our Self Peaceful

File under: Blogs of Note and Gurubusting

Our Twitter pal Clara Lum turned us on to The Peaceful Self.com yesterday. What a blockbuster!
According to this 'awakened guy,' your reward for finally awakening to “truth,” is to learn how to become more "passionate" about the illusion, but only because you're "awakening" is a "non-dual state of consciousness." Now you can blissfully have your cake and eat it too, because there are two forms of "enlightenment" and "the mystics were only half right."

Stupid mystics!

Being is boring, but “becoming” is where it's at, yo!

Good grief, “Two forms of enlightenment”? Really!? I always thought enlightenment was about “awakening” from the illusion to realize truth - one and done!

But not for the “Dream Police.” In fact, for the Dream Police ('awakened guys') there are hundreds of enlightenment "forms." In fact, there are levels and degrees, stages, tiers, quadrants, states, etc, etc, etc, on and on, ad infinitum.

The Dream Police recognize that we live in a postmodern technological 'world' that thrives on conspicuous consumption and, as discriminating consumers, we should have as many “enlightenment” products that the 'dream' can offer...
It's so gratifying to encounter this kind of clarity in a world of ever-increasing occlusion and ignorance about spiritual truth. The author of The Peaceful Self.com is keeping a very low profile, which is like a spoonful of sugar on top of five scoops of ice cream. The turban comes off and gets stomped into the good green Earth for this guy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lord Of The Universe Failure

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

This just in:
The Lord of the Universe (also known as Maharaji, Guru Maharaj Ji, The Anointed One, The Perfect One or quite simply as Prem Rawat) has finally lost control of prime virtual real estate. Specifically he has lost control of his beloved Wikipedia article about himself. You may remember that one of his right hand men, Mr. Jossi Fresco, managed to gain senior honcho status over at Wikiland and thus able to exert undue influence on his beloved Guru's Wiki entry. That was then and now is now. After being named and shamed back in April 2009, Mr. Fresco could not resist the temptation of interfering, this time by creating and deceptively using a different Wiki account, known in the trade as a sock puppet. But I think he has acted like a gambler just before closing time of the casino, losing all. Check out how Mr. Fresco has been rumbled.

The Lord of the Universe must be spitting nails over at his Malibu mansion. But then again perhaps he no longer cares, choosing instead to drown his frustrations in yet another bottle of his beloved cognac.
Poor Prem. We guess he's going to have to take his cognac aloft and burn another couple hundred tons of Jet A in his $60 million dollar private jet to soothe his battered image.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Speaking On The Squat

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Tonight, our pal Doug Rushkoff had us on this radio show. Check it out here.

At one point in the interview, we take a stand against the "pathologization of thought" as represented by the ideas of Eckhart Tolle. For those who care, we're not denying the existence of pathological thinking, we are simply pointing out that the act of thinking itself does not impede the flow of awareness; it's attachment to thought that subverts.

At any rate, thanks to Dougji for the opportunity to spread the Gp gospel a bit.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Dahn Going Down In Arizona

File under: Gurubusting, The Siddhi of PR

It was only a matter of time, after all the other trouble they've been causing, but it looks like Dahn Yoga, a breathing cult from Korea, is starting an inevitable slide toward extinction (or a radical reinvention) in the States:
Dahn Yoga claims it can ease your stress, even heal your ailments. Dahn Yoga operates more than 130 centers across the U.S.

A new lawsuit filed on behalf of 26 former Dahn members alleges the organization subjects its members to “psychological manipulation”.

Experts say this organization fits the definition of a cult, adding that the accusations made in the 53-page lawsuit are not new.

Steve Hassan is a cult expert with more than 30 years of experience. The ABC15 Investigators spoke with him on camera in 2007.

“It’s a destructive, deceptive, mind control cult,” Hassan said.

He said he’s counseled more than 15 former Dahn followers.
It's a cult that gets pretty juicy in the middle:
Former members call these rituals “spiritual surgery” in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, it happened at Dahn’s Sedona, Arizona Center. Retreats there also included "competitive events where losers were punished by sticking their heads in the toilet, drinking toilet water, licking and kissing the other members' feet on the floor of the men's bathroom”.
We misspoke. It's a breathing and ritual sadomasochism cult from Korea.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Buddha Erupts

File under: The Siddhi of PR

How does one go about becoming a buddha? Hire a good press agent:
Master Wan Ko Yee Recognized as the True Incarnation of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released by the International Buddhism Sangha Association...

According to the Venerable Long Hui, the publication of this precious book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III announces to the entire world the news that a true Buddha has descended into the world. This incarnated Buddha is Dorje Chang Buddha (aka Buddha Vajradhara), who is the primordial and highest Buddha according to the lineage charts of all Buddhist sects. The entire name of this Buddha is H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Holiest Tathagata Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu.
This is all one stinking heap of meadow pie to this nose.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Meme Is Out There

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

We don't know who om247om is, but we like his style:

People should be aware of these kind of holy hookers exploiting the innocent and gullible masses.
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meeting Beth Lapides

File under: Sites of Note

Today we ran into Beth Lapides on Twitter, who turns out to be a one-woman comedy industry coming straight from the heart of the Los Angeles spirituality scene. She honored us by proposing we trade links, and we "reciprocated" by sharing some of our standard pedantry about magic gurus and the delusion they employ. One of these days we'll find an off switch for that shit.

Beth has an awesome-looking website with a lot of stuff to check out, like this musing on what we suspect is L.A.'s rampant 2012ism:
The end of duality - is that's what's happening now?
Hard to understand from this duality filled place.
Or is it just cut backs, the end of manicures - two hands on two hands.
Slows down the hands on the face of the clock.
Stop touching yr face my facialist used to say.
Worry. Is. Duality.
But wait! The end of duality is a duality since it implies a begining and end.
Not a whole
Oops.
We haven't quite decided if she's just a little bit too woo-woo or very slyly poking at the indulgences of Hollywoodified spirituality. Either way, it's a really nice site and worth a visit for a joke or two, at least until she decides to turn into a magic guru herself. ;)

Monday, May 04, 2009

"What Enlightenment" Reignites

File under: The Siddhi of PR

A persistent reporter has spooked Papaji acolyte and EnlighteNext magazine founder Andrew Cohen, causing him to make public denials through lawyers to the authors of What Enlightenment, which carries unflattering descriptions of Cohen's behavior with his students. Cohen's action has caused ex-students to rally to the truth, and this truth hurts:
I would say that slapping and physical assaults were pretty infrequent. I have heard of a number of incidents over the years, but on the whole I would not say it was something that formal students came to expect. Perhaps it was more so for the very small group of “Committed Students”—the few, perhaps three to seven most senior students who led Andrew’s communities. I can personally attest to being instructed one time to go to Craig Hamilton and Carter Phipps, coeditors with me of Andrew’s magazine What Is Enlightenment?, shout an angry message, and slap them both, hard. Andrew emphasized that I must really mean it and hit them hard. I did this. He also had me do the same thing to Amy Edelstein (who sent the replies to you from EnlightenNext). For the record, I also witnessed Amy Edelstein herself slapping Craig and Carter under similar circumstances. In the incidents I witnessed or participated in, no one was physically harmed. Nevertheless, I find it abhorrent, and this event was one of the “final straws” that helped me to realize that Andrew, and now I, had crossed a line that should not be crossed.
We suspect Cohen is now wishing he'd have kept this bag closed. While his little slaparchy might have made a good episode of the New Three Stooges, it definitely also makes for really, really bad PR.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One-Year Arrest Update on Prakashanand — He Must Be Praying for a Miracle

File under: Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

By a former resident of Barsana Dham

[Ed.note: This is the first of what we hope will be many stories written by the readers of this blog. This first piece about Prakashaka BOOM, longtime Gp target Kreepalu's agent in America, is excellent and sets the bar quite high at the onset. If you'd like to have your say about your ex-guru, drop us a line at tips@guruphiliac.org].

25 April 2009 — Last year on this day, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati was cooling his heels in a prison in Alexandria, Virginia. Today he is obsessively compulsively flying back and forth from India to Austin; perhaps trying to shore up his life before he returns to jail — permanently.

Last year, on Thursday, April 24, 2008, after exiting an international flight at Washington Dulles International Airport, Prakashanand was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals from the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and arrested on 20 counts of indecency with a child. From that afternoon until Saturday afternoon, he was in the custody of law enforcement officers. If justice is served, he will spend the rest of his life in their company.

However, for the past year he has been free on one million dollars bail for the case involving two female minors. He also has a $10 million bond posted by one of his wealthy followers to ensure that he shows up for pre-trial hearings and the trial. The bond was posted so that he could receive his passport back. One stipulation of his bond is that he cannot step one foot back into the multi-million dollar ashram he built southwest of Austin with followers’ money. When in Austin, he stays two miles down the road at a home owned by one of his followers.

He has spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to move heaven and earth to get back into his “magical kingdom.” But so far Hays Judge Charles R. Ramsay has said no way two times. Now Prakashanand is trying his luck with the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals.

He also appears to be fighting like hell to postpone the actual trial for as long as humanly possible. In fact, for the past year he has not had one single pre-trial hearing. In the past year, Prakashanand’s case has been set and reset eight times, according to an article published Friday by Eric Dexheimer, an Austin American-Statesman journalist following the case. He wrote: “Prakashanand’s case has been winding through the court system at an unusually slow pace.” The Hays DA said in an email to him: “It is true that cases typically are not reset or canceled this many times in my experience.”

Although the Hays County DA has not revealed why the hearings have been delayed, rumors indicate that the excuses include Prakashanand claiming illness and hiring new lawyers (who then need time to get up to speed on the case).

The main reason is likely that he is praying for miracle: Hoping that his bad karma will all just go away.

You can be sure that Prakashanand is sparing no expense (of his followers’ donations) for the most aggressive legal defense. On one recent document submitted to the 3rd Court for his appeal there were seven lawyers cited. One of his lawyers brags on his firm’s website about his history of keeping accused murders and child molesters out of jail.

Since Prakashanand’s arrest, Barsana Dham has propagated much misinformation. Most notably, they have been telling followers and new parishioners that the women in the indictment are claiming sexual abuse by Prakashanand, because “they are angry at their parents” and “mad that they had to grow up in Barsana Dham.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The two women are, in fact, among the bravest people on the planet. They stood up to this man and his criminal behavior when so many others have left the organization quietly or turned a blind eye to the truth.

But Barsana Dham’s preachers and other higher-ups have not only committed lies of commission regarding this case. They have also omitted sharing several salient points including:

    The Hays County Sheriff’s office conducted a criminal investigation before they arrested Prakashanand.
    The Hays DA presented the case to a 12-member Grand Jury. This means that 12 citizens of Hays County heard the state’s case and agreed that there was enough evidence to indict Prakashanand of 20 counts of indecency with a child.
    Four branches of the law were involved in Prakashanand’s arrest — which could have occurred in Austin, Texas: But didn’t.
    Barsana Dham’s leadership calls former members “demons,” because they are speaking out about Prakashanand’s (and Barsana Dham’s other guru, Kripalu Maharaj’s) criminal behavior. The organization forbids current members to have any contact with them. Barsana Dham prefers its ex-members to just go away quietly — and, of course, has profited from people doing just that for decades.
    Prakashanand’s lawyers are bending the truth on his filings, including the brief to the 3rd Court of Appeals.
The irony is that Prakashanand’s followers treat him as if he is God. So, why aren’t they asking themselves: How could God get himself into such a mess — and, even more telling, why can’t he gracefully get himself out?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Childhood Hell In Chinmoyland

File under: The Siddhi of PR

This is much like what you'd expect from a guru whose primary claim to fame was performing elaborately-staged demonstrations of the fact he was a musclehead:
Tamm... depicts a charlatan who masqueraded as a god and convinced hundreds of thousands to worship him. Her parents were among the first disciples. Chinmoy arranged a "divine marriage" between a Yale-educated hippie and a single mother, then told them to practice abstinence. (Most disciples, however, were directed to remain single.) When Tamm's parents disobeyed and conceived her, Chinmoy invented a myth to explain her birth. He declared her the "Chosen One," a miracle child he'd selected to be his most devoted follower...

She also says the guru controlled his pupils by pitting them against one another. He created a caste system that allowed him to demote or promote members at will. He encouraged members to keep tabs on one another and turn in rule-breakers. Tamm says he once held a fundraiser where disciples paid $25 apiece to hear him describe their worst qualities. At one meditation session, he held a contest for the ugliest girl--a young member with a boil on her face won the distinction.
That's some crazy kind of karma, your "Chosen One" being the instrument of your life's true rendering. Sri Chinmoy clearly made the right choice in Jayanti Tamm.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lynch Takes Assault On 1st Amendment to Kentucky

File under: The Siddhi of PR

David Lynch's plan to get his religion into your kids' schools has moved into its post-concert phase. Money made at the concert will now flow to the various regional "peace palaces" of the TM™ org so that efforts to indoctrinate your children can be made on a local basis, including in the state of Kentucky:
Part of the initiative includes funding from the David Lynch Foundation for 1,000 kids in the Central Kentucky area...

In Lexington, anyone can learn the TM technique at the Maharishi Peace Palace, which offers free introductory lectures as well as further instruction to learn a seven-step program.
And a whole lot of "encouragement" to open your wallets to pay for it all.

And that's the whole plan. Raise money to introduce TM™ to children to develop paying customers and adherents to what is CLEARLY a religion.

If TM™ meditation can be in schools, why not Zen, or Vipassana, which is clearly more well-suited to the task of being secular. TM™'s tireless efforts to secularize their ideology is only a few microns thick, folks, covering up what is essentially one grandiose man's grandiose vision of a world ruled by kings (rajas) who will mete out Vedic law, but only as it was interpreted by him. In this world, we will all literally be bowing to pictures of the Maharishi!

Yeah, we know, it's effing crazy, but there are thousands of people who believe it, and those are the people who are trying to get TM™ into the head of as many children as they can.

Gp pal John Knapp has put out a call to the citizens of central Kentucky for any information they might be able to provide. Recently, he attempted to organize a web-meeting about TM™ in schools that was quashed by lawyers from the David Lynch Foundation. We encourage everyone to call their schools and raise a ruckus about this absolute assault on the First Amendment, and not just in Kentucky. TM™ is trying to get in schools from San Francisco to Rhode Island. It's likely that wherever there's a "Maharishi's Peace Palace," there's an effort to trojan their religion into your schools.

Update: For those who want to decide for themselves whether TM™ is a religion, check this out:
Maharishi is expressing this because He has felt a great opening in world consciousness. He now feels that He is ready and able to train as many governors as come forward to be real channels for the decent of Heaven on Earth, Sat Yuga. He wants to bring all the old time people to a mature state of knowledge and experience. He wants to train us to create for ourselves and for the world from within ourselves, and to know by Being, and to create from Being, so that we are masters of our own destiny and the destiny of the world.
This is sacred business for TM™. In other words, their religion.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

HuffPo And RusSim Love TM™ In Schools

FIle under: The Siddhi of PR

Arianna Huffington, Russell Simmons, the surviving Beatles and wackjob film director David Lynch all want religion in your childrens' schools.

While we agree that a secularized form of meditation could benefit many kids around the country, TM™ meditation is a religion that arrives with a whole float of ideological assumptions about the world and the TM™ founder, the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Do whatever you can to resist these dilettantes from determining what religion your children are exposed to in the context of their public education (hint: it's supposed to be none.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Illin' Lama Getting Served

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

When we last had a visit from the "Lama," Michael Lyons, aka Mohan Singh, he was just put under a warrant for his arrest on sexual assault charges in the U.K. Two years and some change later, he's getting it like he gave it from the press and the prosecutor:
Michael Lyons, 51, styled himself as spiritualist Mohan Singh and victims were convinced he was linked to the Dalai Lama, it is alleged.

But in fact he is a 'sexual predator' who raped and assaulted new or potentially new followers that he found attractive, a jury was told.

Prosecutor Philip Katz QC said: "We say the defendant, calling himself Mohan Singh, is a sexual predator masquerading as a Guru and healer.

"We say he has been systematically raping and sexually assaulting those new recruits into his group who he found attractive."
For any readers who've been closer to Mohan than they wanted to be, a reporter from London's Daily Mail is asking for help:
By way of introduction, I'm a journalist with the Daily Mail newspaper in London.

I have read with interest the many posts on your website.

Could you pass on my details to any of Mohan's victims who have contacted you.

I would like to speak to them for a newspaper investigation into him. I have been covering the court case which is currently running at Wood Green Crown Court in London.

Any other leads for investigating Lyons would be welcome. I would be particularly keen to try and track down his former wife.

Many thanks

colin.fernandez@dailymail.co.uk
We can imagine that woman has better things to do than get involved with her psychopathic ex-husband again, but all the best to anyone who wants to tell their story to Colin and the Daily Mail.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SF Says No To Deepak

File under: The Siddhi of PR

The City has spoken:
Deepak is another phony. He should follow his own rule #1. What's funny is he tries to use his psychobabble to rationalize Obama acting more like a king than a president. But, Chopra is a foreigner, so he has no idea what values and beliefs made this country great.

"I'm conflicted. Deepak has introduced me to much spiritual truth over the years. There are few thinkers from who I've gained so much. But his foray into political philosophy is quite juvenile and uninformed." Oh has the world changed or have YOU changed? (Morrisey & The Smiths)

Whose the audience Mr. Chopra trying to reach out to? Like if I'm a self identified close minded person I'll be so glad to have found Mr. Chopra's "A self-help kit for closed minds" and I will heel to his advice to open up my mind!? If those people are really close minded in first place why would they bother with this??

If DC's eastern philisophical ideas are so wonderful then how come India has so much crushing, inhumane proverty, a racist cast system, sexism and a hatered of Pakistan?

Oh shut the pie hole. So tired of hearing how liberal democrats are the ones with open minds: Only if you agree with them! Most "liberals" I know, and I know many, are nano-second in-your-face if your should so much as reveal a divergent view from their own. And they have a dirth of humor.

Why is this Charlatan on the Chron ? To sell more books ? Of course. Get a real job Chopra and stop taking money from weak minded people...

So Chopra "... is the author of over 50 books..." Wouldn't you think that, if he had something important to say, he would have already said it by now?

OM (and stuff).

I don't know who this guy is but looking at his picture I wouldn't let him within 20 yards of my kids let alone my closed mind.
We guess the City of the Summer of Love isn't buying what Deepak Chopra is selling these days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What Sri Sri Does For A Dude

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Want to be an angry, foul-mouthed messenger of "peace?" Just sign up for an Art of Living course:
Shut the f*** up Jody!
U r a piece of Shit on the www

Sharadha!!!!! U r sad!!!

Wonder whether u guyz wud deserve a service like tht wen u need in!!!!!
Fortunate enuf r guyz to b not one of those affected by those terrorist or the trauma inflicted.

Sad reali sad!!!!!!
God Bless u guyz!!!
Although after that butchering of the language, we're thinking they need to change their mission and become the "Art of Spelling."

What Nithy Does For A Dude

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We'd like to direct your attention to the comments in our Nithyananda Blesses Arunachala With A New Orifice item of a few months ago. There you will see Swami Nithyananda's "Living Enlightenment" in all its full glory:
You don't have patience to even see what is said as this Jody has already shoveled all his shit on your third eye socket. Go wipe yourself clean...

I thought you don't have intelligence now you have proved you don't have memory either. Don't dare ever talk to me like that again. Go hit yourself against the wall 108 times and you will remember!

i think i wud die in shithole than getting initiated by a westerner like you! jerk? nice name you gave yourself by the way.. i love typing it jerk? remind yourself!
Hurry now, as they are deleting the evidence of their overwhelming anger and arrogance even as we write this. It's all in our email inbox at home, so perhaps we will continue to share more later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cricket Players Now Sri Sri Lankan

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living PR assault squad have very successfully capitalized on the March 3 terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, by relentlessly promoting the "trauma relief and counselling program" they comped to the Sri Lankan cricket team targeted in the attack. The stunning press action by the crack AoL team netted over 30 mentions in a Google News search this evening.

The turban gets tipped in the direction of Bangalore to the true siddhas of guru pimping.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sri Sri Gets Spanked By Times Of India

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Hmmm. We wonder who they are talking about:
A guru, popular for an admittedly revolutionary breathing technique that unlocks spiritual potential, organized camps across many cities on his birthday. Devotees flew in from all over the world and large crowds congregated at the allocated venues. The crowds and cars predictably kicked up so much dust that all those who attended and attempted the deep breathing technique in the middle of the dust haze fell ill. Blind devotion led to near physical annihilation for many. Is it not possible to be devoted to one’s guru and practice his teachings in the privacy of one’s home? And can this public demonstration of power and popularity by this guru signify, even remotely, his spirituality?
No. It signals his overwhelming lust to be famous (and to make his family rich.) But scratch that part about "revolutionary breathing technique." We hear it's just something Sri Sri came up with one day to give himself a head rush.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

TM™ Wants To Own Your Kids' Minds

File under: The Siddhi of PR

With David Lynch and Paul McCartney out raising millions to put TM™ indoctrination programs into your kids' schools, anti-cult counseler John Knapp is organizing the resistance:
Join us for a free Web Event, April 2, 8 pm EST, to learn a side of the Transcendental Meditation story they won't tell you.

TM. Concerned scientists question research claiming benefits. Former members allege secret agendas. Clergy are unsure if TM contradicts their religion.

In this atmosphere, the David Lynch Foundation sponsors Paul McCartney & Friends in concert April 4, 2009. Reminding many of Tom Cruise's marketing for Scientology.

DLF states this "World Harmony Concert" will raise millions to introduce "TM/Quiet Time" into public schools.

We believe this violates the separation of Church & State.

Many consider meditation valuable. Our concern is religious meditation forms do not belong in public schools.
TM™ is not secular meditation. TM™ is a religion, and a destructive cult in every sense of the word. While we agree that meditation is good for all regardless of faith, TM™ meditation comes with so many strings attached to a wildly fantastic mythology (including all their so-called "science") that you may as well be dunking kids in full-on Christian baptisms.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sri Sri Goes Metal

File under: The Siddhi of PR

This is nothing short of brilliant:


Well, maybe not quite brilliant. The subject was certainly an inspired choice, and the acting was more than adequate. And while the writing started out pretty strong, it began to lag quickly, resulting in a soggy finish.

But we don't want to discourage the Mindry.in folks from trying again. And if they ever want help with the writing, we are here to serve!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

India Moves To Protect Its Heritage From Greedy Gurus

File under; The Siddhi of PR

Mother India is out to save Her spiritual heritage from greedy, patent-trolling gurus [Ed.note: Remember Bling-Bling Bikram?] who try to turn yoga culture into their own, personal cash cows:
Instances of self-styled yoga gurus claiming copyrights to ancient ‘asanas', especially from the West, is now becoming rampant. This has made 200 scientists and researchers from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Union health ministry's department of Ayush join hands to put on record all known yoga postures and techniques that originated in India.

Scientists are presently scanning through 35 ancient Sanskrit texts, including the Mahabharata, Bhagawad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to identify and document all known yoga concepts, postures and terminology.

Till now, 600 ‘asanas' (physical postures) have already been documented. The team plans to put on record at least 1,500 such yoga postures by the end of 2009.
That is a yoga guide we'd love to see.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

John DeRuiter Update

File under: The Siddhi of PR

A reader sends us an update on John DeRuiter of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, a noted nonduality purveyor who kinda seems like a jerk, although he gets a tip o' the turban for openly pulling a pair of sisters as his girlfriends:
Well folks, it must be time for an update. It is now 2009 and where are we now with John DeRuiter? Having been around John for many years I'm pretty sure I can give a fair assessment of what is happening around him, but then again I'm a bit of a shit disturber and actually still have a brain and my critical thinking capacity.

Firstly, people commenting on JDR who have not personally sat with him are completely in the dark and are making uninformed decisions in their comments (much the same as the people who voted for George Dubyuh.)

Now 10 years later, John still has a relationship with the two woman (sisters) who he dumped his wife for. (Actually, he gave his wife the choice to join the harem, she declined.) There is no love lost between the two sisters and they are much like acid and ice cream—not a good mix. Acid, Benita, is in charge of everything. She had no people skills whatsoever when she started the job and now she has at least one or two, so she is growing. The main woman in charge at the time was dumped with the excuse that she needed a vacation. That woman probably still questions her worthiness, but now I'm speculating.

I've had many deep experiences sitting with John and will tell you that he has never bitten me, (probably because I bite back.) But I would never take some of the crap that he dishes to some people, but they invariably take it. Over all, it's unbelievably boring. We sit, we gaze, he gazes. It's all very peaceful, like a graveyard, or should I say mausoleum, as the new digs are all marble and chandeliers.

My main complaint was that if you were to ask John a challenging question, he very often reverts to silence, and that cuts out any chance of a dialogue about truth or anything else. By doing so, he chooses always to be in "Power" position and you, the questioner, become secondary chimpanzee without a voice. It truly sucks and is completely disempowering. There can be no "Real" dialogue because he's always in charge of the situation.

The majority of people in the group are pretty "John Gone," and there is no focus on critical questioning as the group has silently agreed that that is not cool. I think they call it co-dependency. The sad thing with almost any guru who answers all questions is that it basically makes you a bit stupid and you will always second guess your decisions, ("gee, I wonder what John would do?"), and John has an answer for everything. He is an incredibly intelligent speaker and master of the one liner. The problem though is that he has created an obscure language that most humans cannot possibly grasp, and in my opinion has muddied and complicated the pure field of truth.

Many who hang with John get a lot from it. They are intelligent and articulate people and some are real sweethearts. People in the group do have an opinion which they share privately but not publicly.

All in all he seems pretty benign and he ain't no Jim Jones but if you want to truly grow, get the hell out of there and take on life directly.
Maybe not a Jim Jones, but DeRuiter's from-on-high positioning of himself, especially his tendency to duck the tough questions, really only obscures more than clarifies the nondual us. But that could have been a business decision: keep them in mystery and they'll keep coming back (and paying you) for the answer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Real Sri Sri Revealed

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Finally, a truthful media portrayal of the world fame-lusting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
A South American TV personality has launched a television cartoon based on Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s teachings, choosing him as the main character.

The cartoon, “Plim Plim”, is aimed at children between two and five years old, the Art of Living Foundation said here.
Sri Sri takes yet another page from his own guru's playbook, seeing as TM™ does, that for the younger of those in the bath, the more thorough the brainwashing will be.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Popping Pop Vedanta

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We've got to give it up for Gp compatriot, H.H. Sri Sri SRI Kevinanandaji, for going OFF at the self-glorification business in Tiruvannamalai, India, over the last few months. Today he takes his needle and pokes the Pop Vedanta bubble, AKA Neo-Advaita. And while we may sometimes veer very close to some of the same outlined sins, we enjoyed the Kevinanandajister ripping away like a mad sadhu on a Datura bender:
This is a shallow, consumeristic interpretation scraped from the retina of Ramana's teaching, which sells you abstract notions of enlightenment as the real deal: like buying on credit and never having to pay. It is the 'description of enlightenment' minus the genuine article, an enticing 'theoretical product' where body is divorced from mind. All you get is "talk" and "pseudo-awakenings" become the new benchmark. Saying it, replaces being it. Soft words and the 'language of love' masquerade as the real thing. Understanding realisation is suddenly the accomplishment. Salvation served up on a slab: consume and you're enlightened!

The upshot is that anything goes if you can argue it. In the absence of visceral experience, the slightest tremor becomes an 'awakening event'. And with the arbitary use of any 'free-floating concept', even Ramana can be castigated as a fake. Like a 1000-headed hydra, one Guru pops up only to be shouted down by another who shouts even louder (As Mr Heinz so sagely put it, "57 varieties of Mind Fuck soup!") This is why this 'Paradigm of Paradise' is so jumbled and confused. It's a hybrid monster: 'Presence', 'Being In The Moment', 'Neti Neti' and 'Mental deconstruction' to the nth degree, all in the name of 'Satsang!'
The Chi-Ting Master has spoken. While we see some value in a few of the ideas he's railing against, we are going to let this tiger's tail alone.