Guruphiliac: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Maharishi Effect

File under: Book Review

We were quite happy (about 6 months ago) to receive an advance copy of Geoff Gilpin's The Maharishi Effect to review for this blog. Unfortunately (and this may explain a lot to y'all), we only read books when we are flying on jet planes to distant locales, and we only get to fly a few times a year.

But since we flew to California for Thanksgiving this year, we finally had a chance to read the damn book. We came away quite happy to have shared a pleasant journey with a former/maybe-about-to-return adherent of the TM™ movement at their dilapidated little utopia known as Fairfield, Iowa.

It's basically the tale of an ex-TM™er exploring the questions he left behind when he left the movement. To do so, he moves back to Fairfield, meeting old friends who have realized varying degrees of success in their lives. Geoff is not at all unsympathetic to TM™ and it's leader, the Maharishi. In fact, he's rather leaning on their side for most of the book. But he does so with an unflinching eye for the decay (both physical and ideological) that has befallen the org in the time since he left, something a Kool-Aid drinking TM™er would never think of doing.

As to whether he gets his questions answered, that's hard to say. For a while we were worried Geoff was going to start drinking the Kool-Aid himself again, but his somewhat suffering wife seems to be just the anchor he needs to get in, figure it out and get out:
[Geoff] said, "But it seemed as real as anything. I had a direct experience of consciousness jumping from person to person through walls."

"That's what you believed at the time, You all took it for granted that things like that happen. You were expecting it and you got what you expected..." [Sarah said]

"I had it again when I was meditating... It was the deepest meditation I've had in ages. I don't know why it's better with the group..."

"Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. A placebo."

I gave Sarah a big grin. "That's why I married you..."
Smart man, smart woman. If you guys ever hit a rough patch, hit me up by email, Sarah.

Finally, at the end of the book Geoff breaks out the debunking, which is really nothing more than the application of common sense. All in all it's a sweet little read that moves quickly, doesn't bore, and provides a good insider's view of what goes on in Fairfield, and by extension, that mad little old coot's head. There are a few distracting bits about Geoff's work as a software writer/programmer, including some obvious product placement. He also kind of skips much discussion of the Madharishi's "peace palace" program, but we'll give it four out of five turbans anyway, mostly for its value as a source of information about the history of the TM™ movement and how it (doesn't quite) work today in Fairfield.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sri Sri Sucks Up Another Award

File under: The Siddhi of PR

He may not have been able to snag the Nobel Peace Prize this year, but that's not stopping Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from collecting yet another empty accolade in his quest for the perfection of his self-aggrandizement. This time it's an honorary PhD in Holistic Medicine from the Open International University for Complementary Medicine in Sri Lanka. Not surprisingly, the reasons he's getting the award are a bit shaky:
Ravi Shankar, who commands millions of followers worldwide, has added a holistic dimension to healthcare by reviving ancient healing techniques and practices and presented them in a way that is suitable for modern lifestyles.
It would more accurately read: by appropriating an obscure pranayam technique and then trying to pass it off as an original creation, even going so far as to greedily attempt to copyright it. That puts him on the same plane as "Bling-Bling" Bikram Choudhury here in the States, who recently attempted to copyright his sequence of common hatha yoga postures.

Sri Sri may be a bit more subtle about his bling than Bling-Bling, but both are men who lucked into a role as spiritual leader after recasting ancient and commonly-used practices as their own inspired handiwork. Now, they appear to be unstoppable juggernauts of self-glorification, due to the fact there's one born every minute – that is, needy seekers of confirmation in the form of an addiction to a make-it-alright-with-a-wave-of-his-hand space daddy.

Who knows? Maybe Bling-Bling will be able to bring peace to Sri Lanka. He sure couldn't do any worse than Sri Sri.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sai Baba Smackdown

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

In what is quite unusual for the Indian press, a Hindustan Times columnist puts the smackdown on the Babaster:
The homosexual abuse allegations are now too numerous to dispute. (Enter ‘Sathya Sai Baba’ and ‘homosexuality’ on a Google search and you will get an astonishing 18,000 references.) I am prepared to believe that at least some of the young men who claim to have been fondled or otherwise assaulted by the Baba are liars.

But can every single person who claims to have been fondled be a liar? By now, the list of complainants runs into triple figures. And that’s just the Westerners. (The Indians seem less able to speak out against the Baba.) Surely, there is a case for the old boy to answer?

Bizarrely, none of the fondling-of-devotees stuff seems to perturb any of the Baba’s high-profile followers. And, when you ask the many senior politicians, who turn up at the Puttaparthi ashram to fling themselves at the Holy One’s feet, whether they are legitimising the Baba’s activities, the only responses you get follow predictable lines: “Even Jesus had to face criticism” etc etc.
As long as he's got millions thinking he's God, Sai Baba will have enough politicians in his back pocket to coverup many more misdeeds with young men. Like it or not, the world is probably going to have the Babaster's hands down its pants until he croaks, and nothing short of a young man exclusionary zone with a 1000-mile radius is going to keep privates private from his grabby mitts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Making Money Off Her Mac-Daddy

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

In what could be a first for the nonduality satsang world, Gangaji has built an entire weekend retreat around the fact that her husband/co-teacher has been a dog. Welcome to the Jewel in Disillusionment:
Most of the prolonged suffering of our lives directly relates to our resistance to disillusionment. From early childhood until death, we all experience wanting what we love to never end.

Perhaps the most painful disillusion of form is our idealized views of loved ones-our parents, our friends, our leaders, our teachers, and even our gods. To fully experience the pain generated when the idealized image of a beloved form dissolves, can be the gateway to liberation. To avoid fully experiencing this particular death leads to torment of self and other.
Color us impressed with Gangaji's nerve. But not surprisingly, some former devotees are taking a somewhat darker view of her efforts:
"Both Gangaji and Eli have shut down free and open dialogue about the scandal at the behest of their lawyers and now they ask us to pay them to discuss the pain they've caused. I assume that Gangaji because of the legal advice she's received will not openly discuss the scandal at the retreat but will once again play guru expecting us to open our souls to her at a sizeable cost. She clearly doesn't get it. When is she going to get off the pedestal and become human?"

"This event will be a way for G to find out who her die-hard loyalists are. They're the ones who will willingly pay to attend something like this. A group that is smaller and composed of die hard loyalists and where potential dissenters have chosen to exclude themselves out by refusing to pay to attend the upcoming retreat--that kind of group is much cozier."
The sweet lemonade of freedom, or acidic cult fermentation? Regardless of what you believe she's getting out of her lemons, Gangaji has got a lot of gall to even attempt to capitalize on her husband's perfidious activities.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gurus 101

File under: Reference

We were doing a little housekeeping on the discussion list and came across a link provided by longtime guru commentator, Jan Barendrecht. It's as much a guru 'bible' as anything we've ever found online. It's definitely somewhere to send people who don't quite know what you mean when you talk about gurus.

Update: A kind reader has pointed out that the Next Switch article is only a dated version of the Wikipedia article, which is an even better reference for those trying to understand the cultural extents of the phenomenon guru.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Flip-Flopping For Nithyananda

File under: Real True Gurus

Our friend Antarananda has put up with a good deal of crap from us. But rather than taking offense, he comes back with exactly why he's sticking with his guru... and to be perfectly honest, we don't blame him one bit. Here's the latest evidence that Swami Nithyananda may be a bit better than your average human divinity:
The idea of Guru and disciple is only a psychodrama. There is no specialty about the Guru nor is there anything less in the disciple. The fellow who understands he is playing a drama becomes God. Those who don't understand are stuck in one role or the other. Just because someone is a disciple, it is not that he cannot grow spiritually more than the Guru and that the Guru is always spiritually more qualified than the disciple. If the Guru is stuck in his role, he will be lower than the disciple who has not understood that he is playing a psychodrama. I have understood that I am playing a drama and so I am God. You have not understood that you are playing a drama and so you are not God.

All of us come from the same dimension. We are therefore the same. When we are born, our mind acts as a barrier in knowing what our source is; it fragments us between who we are and what our origin is. We are here for a purpose and get attached to that purpose, while forgetting what we are. The actor becomes the character and forgets who he really is. That is the psycho drama. The disciple can be the Guru if he realizes that he can be the Guru. The Master realizes that and is therefore the Master. The Master can therefore become a perfect disciple as well. The opaque glass that fragments us is Maya, and ego, ahankara. Our mental attitudes, vasana and samskara are what make us who we are, the characters we play in the drama.

So long as we are in touch with the original memory of who we are, we are above the attachment in this drama. We are clear we are playing a role and can drop that role. We are then man, god and Guru all rolled into one.

The only block to our awareness is this illusion, Maya. We are not aware we are playing a role in a drama. We are not in control.

Q) 'You spoke about psycho drama…'

A) 'All miracles that happen around me are because you expect them to happen. If I am really a Master every one should always feel I am a Master; that's not so. When I am traveling overseas, especially in the USA, the immigration officials treat me like a form of low life, not a Master at all. To them, I am no one special.

Your expectations are fulfilled through me, because you feel I am your Master. There is no Master, no disciple. It's all pure energy. One who understands that all this is drama is God. Otherwise you are trapped as a Guru or disciple; as disciple you are only cheating yourself; as a Guru, you are cheating others. You are committing murder; and are socially and politically dangerous.

He who wants to fulfill ego becomes a Guru. If you want to postpone enlightenment, you become a seeker, a disciple. A real seeker straight away sees this drama and is awakened.'

Q) 'How?'

A) 'You break away by understanding. If you ask how, you declare yourself to be a fool. You don't have to accept yourself as a fool. Just accept yourself. Awaken.

Only when you understand that it's all a psychodrama will you have respect for me, real love for me, gratitude towards me; till then it is hypocrisy. I do not believe any one who respects me without any benefit. I am frightened of such people. I do not believe people who believe me right away. I would rather they do not believe me By believing me no one is doing me a favor. They just want me to be responsible. They call me god; after a few days they will dethrone me.

Only when you understand this drama will you be liberated and have Guru Bhakti (the Divine Master-disciple relationship); all other belief that I am superior to you is nonsense. It's your projection; you are creating that drama. You and I are one and the same.

I have all the problems that you have; whatever makes you feel unenlightened; your greed, lust, fear, anger, pain etc. I have ALL in capital letters. The only difference is that I have accepted all of them. You have not. I do not think they are problems. I am not bothered. In cases where I have not accepted, I have accepted that I cannot accept. Liberate yourself from the Guru; only then Guru bhakti can happen.
This is exactly what we'd like to see all gurus do, deconstruct their own mystique as it condenses in the minds of their devotees, as it happens. If he could only lose the "presence" shtick as well.

He may be "that guy who looks like a prop at a convention in Vegas," according to one commenter, but regardless of his somewhat cliché fashion preferences, we sincerely hope he's one space-daddy who will finally break people of their space-daddy habits.

Monday, November 20, 2006

For The Millionth Time

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

A timeless tale created in a classic form by the Mahashakti (as told by The Observer):
Soon Paul was dividing his time between his girlfriend and son and the foundation. Paul tried to persuade Lucy to join him, but she was wary of Patel. 'The first time I was invited to speak with him he kissed me full on the lips.

I thought, "You're no guru,"' Lucy says.
Read the whole thing. It's as good as a guru-gone-bad tale as there is.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cult Cops

File under: Satscams and Gurubusting

Today we've been informed we've been added to the blogroll of The Truth about Human Potential Seminars, a site which monitors and warns against Large Group Awareness Training situations. In other words, mind control cults.

While it's not quite the same arena we like to spar in, there is a good overlap 'twixt the two. So we're going to return the favor and add them to our links section.

In the meantime, those of you either afraid of being brainwashed or interested in brainwashing others can check out this handy list of how to pull it off, courtesy of the TaHPS folks:
• Isolate them in new surroundings apart from old friends or reference-points
• Provide them with instant acceptance from a seemingly loving group
• Keep them away from competing or critical ideas
• Provide an authority figure that everyone seems to acknowledge as having some special skill or awareness
• Provide a philosophy that seems logical and appears to answer all or the most important questions in life
• Structure all or most activities so that there is little time for privacy or independent action or thought
• Provide a sense of "us" versus "them"
• Promise instant or imminent solutions to deep or long-term problems
• Employ covert or disguised hypnotic techniques
So if your guru likes to talk in a sing-songy voice which goes up and down and varies in tempo, know that the bitch or bastard is trying to hypnotize you and get the hell out of there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jaxon-Bear Debacle Mainstreams

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

Today, the Gangaji/Eli Jaxon-Bear/ex-student sex scandal mainstreamed a bit by showing up at Rick Ross' Cult News website. While it references an article in the Ashland Daily Tidings that was published just as the scandal was breaking on October 14, its appearance is significant in that the story is now becoming interesting to an audience that's more than just current and former Gangaji and Eli Jaxon-Bear students.

We'll take this opportunity to direct you to the comments sections of the Jaxon-Bear items we've already published. They now contain a lot of good inside juiciness that is definitely worth something as a source of information about Gangaji and Jaxon-Bear in general.

If you asked us, we don't find the whole brouhaha too much of a problem. Just like the fallen-by-way-of-a-recent-sex-scandal Ramesh Balsekar, Jaxon-Bear is a human male and subject to the influence of hormones and need.

While it may call into question the depth of his enlightenment, it does not really make a case against his self-realization. As we like to say: realization comes, enlightenment follows. Believe it or not, Jaxon-Bear can behave like a dog and yet still live in the ongoing recognition of his nondual nature. The fact that he couldn't keep it in his pants is a damn good reason to not seek him out as a teacher, especially if you're an attractive woman, but it doesn't mean he lacks an essential experiential understanding of self-realization.

He's definitely not the first guru to let the "little head" get the better of him, and if we ever make it to the big-time, we guarantee that he won't be the last.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chopra To Cha-Ching! Again

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Gurus to the Stars

Already on the hook for dumbing down Vedic wisdom as a way to make a buck or two... billion, Deepak Chopra is about to enter a whole new dimension of media overexposure with his Virgin Comics, Inc. production of The Sadhu, starring one of Hollywood's most bankable action stars, Nicholas Cage.

When you think about it, Chopra has catapulted clear past the point of needing devotees, simply because he's already made a mountain of cash with his books and other endeavors, which probably only require him to show up, smile and spout a few platitudes about wellbeing and such. It's called having a good business sense, and Chopra has enough of it to get into bed with Virgin Corp. CEO Richard Branson, who probably doesn't get in bed with anyone for less than ten figures or so.

So the turban comes off for Deepak. The one thing we like about him is that he doesn't ever really seem to make it all about himself. This puts him way, WAY above Sri Sri, the Kracki, Sai Baba, Swami Ramdev, Ammachi and just about any other big-time guru out there.

But how he works out as a movie producer/screenwriter remains to be seen. While we're waiting to find out, we'll pray to the Mother Of All That Is Good that he not hire anyone like Brett Ratner or Jerry Bruckheimer to direct.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More Peace = Dumb Papers

FIle under: The Siddhi of PR

Two-time presidential loser and lapsed scientist John Hagelin has been claiming credit for the Maharishi's phalanx of ass-bouncing meditators for everything good in the world. The Dow is up, the Dems are in power, and Britney Spears is divorcing the lame dude. Now, add the dumbing down of major metropolitan newspapers. That's the only possible reason for this lame excuse for reporting:
Good vibrations are humming from Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, to points all over the world. Because Minneapolis is just 350 miles from the university, the good vibes have been getting here sooner than they've arrived in Washington or Baghdad.
Something must happen in transit between Fairfield and Baghdad, 'cause those "peace" vibes are obviously ending up as gnarly war vibes.

The fact that the Star Tribune of Minneapolis/St. Paul would publish something seemingly written by a junior high yearbook correspondent with a David Lynch poster on his bedroom wall makes it all too clear why newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur.

Update: Here's another piece of major American newspaper reportage that reads like a press release for the Happy-Go-Lucky-Wish-It-Well-With-Unicorns! club.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nithyananda On The Power Of His "Presence"

File under: Gurubusting

Our friend Antarananda loves him some Nithyananda. We really can't blame him, but we can blame Nithyananda for working the "guru's magic presence" ploy:
Q: Whenever I am in your presence all questions disappear and everything seems possible. But when I am away from you, all the familiar doubts creep in. Why does this happen and what can I do about it?

Nithyananda: If a question disappears on its own in my presence, then it is time to realize that it was not a true question at all; it was merely a play of the mind. When you are with me, the mind is no more in control - you simply flow into meditation. You become a loving, serene silence. In this state, only a question that is truly your question, one that is completely relevant to you, will still remain with you.

In my presence, you become so intensely aware, so completely present that there is no space for questions to arise. When you leave my presence, the mind is free to impose the past and the future upon your present - for what else are your questions but the play of the past and the future upon your present? Just like the ego, there is no point in fighting with or condemning the mind. It is a pointless struggle which you are sure to lose. Instead, it is enough to be aware that this is the very nature of the mind; it can be expected to behave in no other way. It is bound to bring in anxiety, confusion, doubt. Just to be conscious of this is enough.

Do not pass judgement on the mind - even to get angry with your mind is to lose your energy to it. As you witness the workings of the mind, you will slowly become aware that you are not the mind - you are more than the mind, you are the watcher. Once deprived of your energy, the mind cannot go on! In the place of the chaos of thoughts that you call your mind, a clear, intense consciousness will arise. At that moment, all questions dissolve and the mind is no more.

This is the experience you find yourself having in my presence. And what I have just told you is the way to make it stay with you always - even when you are not with me! It is a slow process - give it time. It will happen.
Perhaps folks are just so ga-ga for their magic space daddy that they get a little dense when he's around. The same thing happens around famous celebrities, giving Brad Pitt just as much magic presence as Nithyananda claims to have.

A Beautiful Gem She Ain't

File under: Satscams

Witness Kalindi La Gourasana, believed to the incarnation of a Hindu deity and the satscamming leader of the Miracle of Love sex cult. See her overwrought enthusiasm as she zeroes right in on the weak spots in her devotees, their self-esteem issues. Watch as she demonizes their personality traits and offers to show them their "beautiful gems within", which is nothing more than her attempt to remake their personalities into a form more obedient to her. Notice at the 1:22 mark how she stares right into the camera, trying to take advantage of those folks who might believe her to be capable of transmitting some kind of supernatural nonsense.

The tells are all there folks, this woman is a con:Wonder what happened to the woman on the back of her book?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Visit To Fairfield And The Wacky Auteur

File under: The Siddhi of PR

There's a nice little article in the Washington Post about Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University of Management and a sizable population of TM™ers. Thankfully, the article is blissfully free of the Peace Palace™ and Global Country of World Peace™ shilling you normally get with this kind of thing. Even we have to admit that it's probably a pretty nice place to live, although we're equally sure that any bucolic setting would bring the same "sense of peace and positive spirit that [they believe] meditation brings [to] it."

If you're wondering how the TM™ movement was able to afford their own whole freaking town, wonder no more:
The training can be received from specialists in almost any American city and costs $2,500, including four days of lessons and follow-up consultations.
To which we say: phooey! It's a simple pranayama and mantra technique, among the most basic out there. While the Maharishi is a kind of genius in the marketing of spirituality, what he's teaching can be found in the most basic of Vedic-based ideologies. Save your money and find a vipassana retreat. While not specifically Vedic-based, they are free of cost (donation optional) and certainly every bit as effective as what the money-grubbing TM™ers are teaching.

Also this week, pop culture skewer specialists Radar take a look at the Maharishi's most prominent shill in the States, movie director David Lynch. Recently rebuffed in his attempt to inject TM™ into a public high school in Marin, California, he's coming back with a new book about the TM™ movement and a new movie to promote.

Already known as an oddball, Lynch has nothing to lose except the respect of his non-TM™er fans, for most of whom the connection to a world-domination cult led by a Tweety-voiced and crazy old man is probably even too much for them to take.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More "Peace" From Sri Sri

File under: The Siddhi of PR

With "peace" like this, war is getting a bit redundant:
A prominent Tamil politician was assassinated in the Sri Lankan capital Friday following a naval attack on two Tamil Tiger boats that left six rebels dead.

Nadaraja Raviraj of the Tamil National Alliance was fatally shot as he left his house in Colombo, said K. Sivajilingam, a fellow member of Parliament.

"We strongly blame the government, the government must take full responsibility," another TNA lawmaker, Suresh Premachandran, told The Associated Press.

"We understand that a whole magazine has been emptied on them (Raviraj and his bodyguard) in broad daylight," Premachandran said.
Er... good job, Sri Sri!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stuart Resnick On Guru's "Magic"

File under: Gurubusting

On a day when nothing was coming up on the radar, Stuart Resnick pulls in at the list with a great piece about his experience at Swami Muktananada's ashram in India – way, way back in the early days – when Gurumayi was not yet a guru but a young woman with perhaps a slightly different nasal profile:
When I was in Swami Muktananda's ashram in India, the teaching that was universally accepted among the devotees was that the guru had special powers to control magical invisible energy ("shakti") upon which the good feelings and special experiences we got were dependent. Such thinking, when strongly and constantly reinforced by the group and the authority figure, has an unexpectedly powerful effect.

When I left the ashram, many people expressed to me that they were worried that once I left the guru's presence, I'd no longer be able to get the feelings and experiences that they saw as dependent on the guru's shakti. I've heard similar ideas expressed in various guru groups, and I conclude that there are people who remain physically within the group and mentally within the group-think largely because of these worries.

About 3 to 4 years after leaving the ashram, I did my first Zen retreat, and found the experience more remarkable and subjectively more worthwhile than anything I'd experienced through depending on a guru. In the Zen setting, neither the teacher or the group suggested any magical invisible energy; there was no suggestion that such experiences were dependent on anything but my own efforts, intentions, and beliefs.

Having gone through this myself, I'm reporting back to anyone who's like my old worried ashram-mates. I'm saying that depending on external authority and energy didn't prove necessary for me. I'm doing this for the benefit of anyone who doesn't want to be dependent on gurus or ashrams, but feel they have to be, having been convinced by the authority and group-think, and lack of reasoned questioning.

This isn't to suggest that people shouldn't learn from teachers; I continue to do so. This isn't to suggest that everyone should avoid gurus who claim magical powers; I like to visit them myself sometimes. It's only to suggest that it's not necessary to do so, and that questioning the authority and the group-think doesn't have to have negative consequences.

All of this is one element of the equation. The other, as quoted above, is whether one WANTS to believe in the external authority and energy. My reason for not wanting to is that I don't want to throw away my freedom. Also: just as an understanding of evolution is so much more beautiful than believing "God did it," I find that questioning and experiencing for myself is so much more satisfying than following a belief from a group or authority.

If other people prefer to believe in scriptures or gurus, or who find Creationism more interesting than Darwin, God bless them every one. I don't feel I'm doing any harm to such people. The people I feel connected to, though, are the ones that value independence.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sri Sri's Peacemaking Skills

File under: The Siddhi of PR

They appear to need a bit of work:
At least 45 civilians have been killed in eastern Sri Lanka after army shells hit a camp for people displaced by the fighting, Tamil Tiger rebels say.

Independent monitors who visited the scene confirm that many people were killed or injured. They say the attack seems to have come from army areas.

Another 125 were wounded in the shelling in the Vakarai region, rebel spokesman S Puleedevan told the BBC.
Say bye-bye to the Peace Prize, Sri Sri.

Update: A reader just informed us [Ed.note: Yes, we're wearing a tall, pointy dunce cap at the moment.] that Sri Sri lost the Peace Prize a month ago. Better luck next year, Sri Sri!

The Fattest Avatard On YouTube

File under: Wackadoo Gurus and The Siddhi of PR

Behold the most inflated windbag of corpulently grandiose nonsense the world presently knows and his flushed-their-brains down the toilet devotees:

The power of spiritually-avaricious ignorance is mind-blowing. Were we to harness it as a source of energy, it would be perpetually renewable and put the whole petroleum industry right out of business.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

David Lane Via Stuart Resnick On "Big" Spiritual Experiences

File under: Gurubusting

Stuart Resnick is one the more clued-up of our active commentators here. He's also fairly active on the Yahoo! Groups Guruphiliac discussion list, where he offered up this important reference for all us gurubusters out here:
David Lane... does a great job of clearly and forcefully expressing a view of the special experiences ("shaktipat," "darshan," yada yada) people get in the presence of gurus, a view that's much in harmony with my own. [Ed.note: Us too! Us too!] Lane writes: "Mystical Fireworks are Self-Generated and NOT caused by a GURU... People when given a meditation sitting will report seeing and hearing things... It is the disciple's own brain (or, again, to be generous, their 'Self') which is causing it, but the disciple wrongly believes that the Guru is doing the transmitting... It is EXACTLY that MIS-taken belief which FUELS the would-be claims of complete frauds... Kirpal Singh didn't transmit the experience; the disciples GENERATED it. Kirpal Singh simply took credit for that which he did NOT cause. It's an advertising ploy and a deceptive one at that. I have had hundreds of students in my classes see light and hear sounds and see radiant beings and leave their bodies... Did 'I' cause it? NOPE. They did. The difference here, of course, is that I EXPOSED THE SECRET. Kirpal took CREDIT for it and gained 'followers' on just such a deception."

That's the jist of it, but if you want more details from Lane, see here and here.
A big thanks to Stuart for doing our homework for us.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ramdev's Roosing

File under: The Siddhi of PR

India's leading swami of rancor and rankle, Swami Ramdev of bones and testicles medicine fame, is roosing his demographic with a bit of patriotic fervor:
Swami Ramdev said the Hindu culture is unique and the whole world would accept its greatness. “Bharat will be recognised in the entire world in the fields of yoga and Ayurveda and the world will start acclaiming the greatness of Hindu culture.
And it looks like he lined up a bunch of other phony saints to pile on for him:
Founder of Bharat Mata Mandir Mahamandaleshwar Swami Satyamitranand Giri compared Swami Ramdev with Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekanand who worked for Bharat’s greatness and welfare of the entire humanity. “Swami Ramdev has been doing the yeoman’s services to the whole world and good results of his efforts are coming out,” he said further adding that the whole saint society will co-operate Swami Ramdev in his mission so that the world again recognises the spiritual values of India and greatness of her culture.
Can you say suck up? That can be the only excuse for comparing the loudmouth and paranoid Ramdev to the likes of Swami Vivekananda.

It's a bit like saying George W. Bush has the compassion of a Buddha and the intelligence of an Einstein. Shame on these sycophantic "saints" for even suggesting the comparison between the name, fame, financial and political gain-lusting Ramdev and India's greatest proponent of Vedic wisdom in the West, the likes of which will probably never be seen again.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Babaster For The Youth Of England

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

It's a pedertastic guru's wet dream:
About 200 young people will fly to India in two weeks' time on a humanitarian pilgrimage run by Sai Youth UK, a division of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. The teenagers and young men earn their Duke of Edinburgh awards for humanitarian work, chiefly distributing medical aid.

The trip coincides with Sai Baba's 80th birthday and has been arranged, organisers say, after he gave a divine commandment for the UK's Sai youth movement to visit him for the occasion.
Folks are not happy about this in the U.K., because "for decades male former devotees have alleged that the guru molested them during so-called 'interviews'".

Sending 200 juicy young boys to Sai Baba is a bit like sending weapons-grade plutonium to North Korea. With all the hubbub in England after the BBC éxpose (and U.S. State Department warning) a few years ago, you wouldn't expect it could get this far.

We imagine Sai Baba's professional online PR spin squad is quite busy trying to contain this fallout. Don't be surprised if a few come to attack this already quite dishonorable establishment in one of their desperate attempts to accuse the accuser out of speaking their minds.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

He's Not Reluctant About Spreading Nonsense

File under: Gurubusting

A commenter alerted us to the existence of Seeking Truth, the blog of a devotee of someone who calls himself the "Reluctant Master." What the author of this blog is not reluctant to do is share occluding nonsense about spiritual truths:
Criticizing an Enlightened soul has an immediate and profound negative impact on one's future. In the current era (of Kalyug), most of the Enlightened souls and Realized Masters are hidden. The person standing next to you, who might appear to be a very ordinary person, might be one of them. Since it is very difficult to tell who is one of these great souls, it is very important not to belittle anyone or say or think bad things about anybody...
Shit. I guess that means we've really got it coming.

It's too bad the "Reluctant Master" appears to be yet another source of pollution in the form of occluding ideas about what self-realization actually is. He may not be doing anything different than all the other wannabe space-daddies out there, but that doesn't mean it's actually doing anything for anyone except to help them build up their ideas of themselves as spiritual beings, effectively building a wall between them and truth they've always been outside of ideas like the above.

But to be completely honest, it's not all this bad. We encountered a few good bits at Seeking Truth as well. And it's quite possible that our negative impression has much more to do with the devotee than the master. As always, your mileage may vary.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just Call It Sri Sri Lanka Now

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been busy lately indoctrinating politicians from Sri Lanka at his Bangalore Art of Living headquarters, and boy has he been effective. Take it from his newly-minted PRbot, Sri Lankan MP Jayalath Jayawardana:
"There is religious harmony (at the ashram). I met a Catholic teacher from Kerala. There are Muslim teachers, Catholic teachers, teachers from different ethnic groups. This is a novel experience I can take back to our country. There is some kind of distance between religious groups in our country," he added.

"We have been leading a very busy life and a tense and stressful life. These three days we were able to learn how to lead a relaxed life. We have a demanding profession, especially because of the ethnic conflict. We have learnt how to be patient, how to be compassionate, how to be tolerant, how to be natural."

Jayawardana, who also heads UNP's relief and human rights committee, said more Sri Lankan MPs would certainly make it to the Art of Living Centre in the months to come.

Already a few of the nine MPs had decided to become vegetarian, he said, without revealing their names. "A couple have indicated to me they will give up alcoholic consumption."
It looks like Jayawardana drank 10-gallons of Sri Sri's Nobel Peace Prize Kool-Aid and he's pissing soundbites to order. We wonder what the quid pro quo is here. Perhaps Sri Sri offered to mention him in his Peace Prize acceptance speech, an international recognition sure to boost Jayawardana's profile at home. Or maybe he just stuffed some pockets with "donations" at the laundry.

The likelihood of Sri Sri ever giving that speech is on a par with his success at peacemaking so far. And with the Sri Lankan government still bombing the Tamil Tiger rebels and civilian population of northern Sri Lanka, Sri Sri's going to have to do a lot more than convince a few junket-whore politicians to favorably spout off about him to the press.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Blade Is Sharp

File under: Gurubusting

Lately we've been graced with the participation of a commenter who calls himself "David the Blade." Here he weighs in on our recent criticism of the seemingly self-inflated Eckhart Tolle:
I wouldn't quite let Tolle off the hook for self-mythologization. Don't be deceived by a warm, loving and apparently "humble" persona into thinking that self-mythologization, and sacro-mythic inflation are not present.

A person like Tolle who has had an experience like he has had, is almost inevitably going to become sacro-mythically inflated if he cannot properly contextualize his internal experience in a way that is **completely** free of narcissism and self-overestimation. However, almost every well-known teacher falls into a trap of inflated self-view born out of interpreting their experience sacro-mythically, as if they are some kind of special great light to the world. In other words, if his self-interpretation is sacro-mythical, some degree of narcissism and inflation seems to be almost inevitable.

Narcissism is not all mean and aggressive, and doesn't always have the appearance of being other-excluding. There is a loving, kind, joyous narcissism that is narcissism by the very fact of the bearer's inflated self-view arising, ultimately, from a tendancy to view oneself as the 'mythic' center of the world (or, as having a special connection to the mythic center of the world). This aspect of narcissism can fuse and lock into an inflated sacro-mythical self-image (as some kind of savior or bringer of light) around the time of enlightenment. It seems pretty clear to me that this has happened to Tolle. Witness his self-image as continuing the great work of J. Krishnamurti, one extremely sacro-mythically inflated dude. The people to whom this happens have no idea that they have become significantly inflated, and their followers are even further from seeing the reality of it. The traditions are typically no help in this regard, because they know nothing about it, only knowing the grosser, non-pietic forms of narcissism, and indeed, even their mythical founders were probably sacro-mythically inflated also. Or, at least, our images of them are sacro-mythically inflated.
We just learned a new word we're sure we're going to use a lot. Having been sacro-mythically inflated ourselves, we can really relate. Fortunately, we got that out of the way early and ended up just a jerk with a nice dog whose ass can neutralize any and all spiritual ignorance with just one poot.

Note To Commenters

File under: Notice

We've just figured out that Blogger hasn't been sending the customary comment moderation emails for a while, which is usually how we moderate the comments. As a result, a whole bunch of stuck comments were just published.

We appreciate the additional insight to be found in the comments of each post here. Some of our bunch are clearly much, much more qualified to guru than the gurus we love to lambast.

Gangaji/Jaxon-Bear Bring In The Lawyers

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

Just as we'd presciently (and perhaps cynically) anticipated, Gangaji and her philandering husband/co-guru Eli Jaxon-Bear have now called out their lawyers in response to his alleged victim's doing the same:
In our last letter, we shared our desire to hold community meetings as well as sending out letters from Gangaji and Eli. We did hold a community meeting in Ashland, and have been in the planning stages for additional community meetings.

Recently however, the Foundation received communications from the student's legal counsel. It has now become necessary and appropriate for the Foundation to retain legal counsel. Having done so, we are choosing to follow the advice of our counsel to not publish letters from Gangaji or Eli, nor to continue scheduling community meetings. We are truly sorry that we are unable to follow through on that commitment, but we must now allow the legal process to take its course.
To save their asses from being sued to a bloody pulp, that is.

Gangaji's sticking with Jaxon-Bear indicates to us that she is truly a self-realized master. Either that or she's an unmitigated fool who lacks any common sense and insight while stuck in a hellish co-dependency with an adulterous husband. A third possibility is that they are staying together for the sake of the "children," who in this case are the satsangis who've been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In any case, traffic for this site is up 33% since the scandal broke, so whatever it is that they are doing, they should just keep doing it as far as we're concerned.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fauxru How-To

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Canadian nonduality guru John de Ruiter has been in the crosshairs of a number of anti-cult crusaders over the course of his career. The latest to take a shot is a PhD student of sociology at the University of Alberta, Paul Joosse. His just-published research reveals the three ways de Ruiter makes his stone-faced silence work for him:
Joosse believes de Ruiter's silence allows his followers to project their own "highly personalized" meaning into the answers they receive from him. Joosse noted that de Ruiter's followers often have a history of participation in various alternative religious movements before they settle into the de Ruiter group and are therefore more likely than most to find meaning in the vague messages that de Ruiter is known to express.

The Canada-based De Ruiter also uses silence as a punitive tool and a means to discourage dissent, Joosse said, adding that the effect is similar to the way the Amish, at times, shun non-conformists in their group. However, one crucial difference is that the Amish employ the silent treatment collectively, while de Ruiter, the irreplaceable, exclusive authority figure in his group, uses it unilaterally...

The third function of de Ruiter's silence is that it accelerates the formation of intimate bonds between de Ruiter and his followers, especially when he combines it with extended eye contact. Joosse added that many of de Ruiter's followers – a good number of whom are middle-aged females – see de Ruiter as possessing "a mysterious aura".
Give 'em something to project upon, keep 'em under the thumb of your authority and be attractively mysterious. A perfect recipe for the flimflam man looking to work the bliss bunny crowd (while pulling as much tail as possible.)

Whether or not de Ruiter is actually self-realized, his mind games aren't really much more sophisticated than a high-schooler's. But with a gaggle of swooning middle-aged ladies piling on as they desperately seek confirmation from him, not much more is required to make him out to be a mysterious space-daddy who can make it all ok (or not) with a mere glance.

To which we say "well-played, Mr. de Ruiter." You may be little more than a manipulative creep, but your shtick is tight and well-rehearsed. It's time to share that wisdom with the world. May we suggest a speed seduction convention as your next venue?