Guruphiliac: March 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Defection! An AoL Teacher Sees The Light

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Hot off the tip line: a former Art of Living teacher explains why he found Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's incessant plotting for ever-increasing amounts of money and fame to be nothing more than a sick cult-propagation scam:
Dear Guruji, fellow teachers and volunteers,

My name is [redacted] and I am an Art of Living teacher in [redacted], USA. I have been involved with Art of Living since 2002 and became a teacher at the Canadian Ashram in the summer of 2005.

I am writing to you today to say that I can no longer sincerely continue as a representative of the Art of Living organization. The reason is simply that I am not inspired by the organization any more. I do not connect with, do not agree with and cannot support in the future:

1) the increasing corporization of the Art of Living organization

2) the intensifying promotional push on all fronts

3) the increasing course fees making it so difficult for many people who need help to participate in programs

4) the pressure on participants in AOL to raise and donate funds

5) the hype and myth creation used for indoctrination

6) the effective undermining of people's self-trust and making them dependent in an infantile way on idealized images of the guru and his special abilities, and a perception of inferiority relative to him

7) the misrepresentation of the placebo effect as the result of the speciality and uniqueness of the practices or the grace of a person

8) the ongoing emphasis on specialness of the organization's leader and his omniscience

9) the resultant cultish atmosphere within AOL and the possibilities for manipulation of all sorts

10) the focus on organization growth and perpetuation rather than the advancement of the people involved and deeper self-inquiry

11) the lack of transparency and accountability for the use of funds, projects implemented, etc.

12) the organization's acting increasingly like a business in the guise of a non-profit

13) the frivolous use of exaggeration and misrepresentation of facts in promotional efforts (as to the scale of humanitarian efforts or the scientific evidence for the benefits of the practices, for example)

14) the conflict between encouraging people to donate a dollar a day to support poor children, etc. and staying in the presidential suites at expensive hotels (e.g. Ritz-Carlton), flying first class, etc.

The list can continue, but there is no point in that. The fact is that I no longer feel I can stand behind the Art of Living Foundation and its efforts. There is an inherent conflict between my perceptions of the organization and its real goals, and my position as its representative. Therefore, I resign from this position with relief.

I do not regret any of the past, but I feel I need to continue my path outside of the confines of Art of Living. I am grateful for my experiences with the organization in the last few years, but I cannot sincerely invite people I care about into it in the future.

If I am making any errors in my assessment, they are solely my responsibility and I am ready to face the consequences of such errors. I realize that this message may create some discomfort somewhere and may generate passionate reaction. I am also aware how the points I am making above can readily be explained away with references to my ego, ignorance, lack of commitment, wrong priorities, etc. All that is fine. Things be as they may, the fact is that this is how I feel currently and this is the action my heart propels me to do. That is the same heart that brought me into Art of Living in the first place. I have nothing else to trust.

Why am I doing this in such a public way then? Because that is what my conscience is telling me to do. Because there may me others who may feel this way but feel compelled to follow the party line at the expense of severe internal conflict. Perhaps this can help them feel not alone or afraid to speak out. Perhaps eventually this may help put AOL back on track - yes, in my perception of what the track should be, but I have nothing else to go by but my perception. As do all of us.
Color us wildly and self-righteously justified in bringing you the truth: the Art of Living org is nothing more than a cult scam, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the lowest form of fame-whoring fauxru known to the modern world at this time.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sri Sri's "Family" Is On The March

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

Organized by region with a military-like precision, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living cult is spreading its tentacles all over the U.S. this spring:
It's clear that the Art of Living family in the United States is growing, yet there is much more we can do. To help each of us bring more people to our beautiful path, Gurudev has given his blessings for a special Art of Living Week, to be held June 12-17 in every state. Our goal is to have 150 courses occurring simultaneously, with at least 50 new people on every course! These courses can be four or six days in length, based on the time availability of the teacher and the need of the area.

To help facilitate this activity we have broken the country into five geographical regions. Each region will have a senior teacher as the regional coordinator, who will be there to help you move forward and provide guidance and inspiration for setting up these courses.
Conference calls with "regional coordinators" are running right now through Saturday. It's all about the new cult recruitment drive "national campaign to teach Art of Living Courses across the USA." And guess who they're selling as the reason you should hand over your God-given common sense, and of course, hard-earned cash: that preening primpster who pimps himself as God while pumping people full of prattle about peace, for a price. Our oh-so-not so-humble little Sri Sri:
We have experienced his love, grace and wisdom. Now, it's time to bring this invaluable gift to the rest of mankind. All through the year, you have worked hard, bringing people to the Part 1 program, some of you traveling around the year to teach courses. Now, lets bring your work to fruition.

Announcing: an East Coast Part 2 program with Guruji! Celebrate his vedic birthday with him!

This is our opportunity to show our gratitude for his time and what he has given us, and make a real difference in people's lives.

Spread the word! If you have any questions, feel free to call outreach coordinator [redacted] at [redacted] or email him at [redacted].
Chilling. The little man with a monster of a self-image to feed is pulling out all stops, and he's got a growing army of tragically-duped seekers pulling in more and more marks.

If you feel your heart bursting with devotion after reading all this, you can pay $660 to celebrate with Sri Sri in person in Washington, DC, this May. You'll also get to accelerate to Part 2 of the Art of Living prison for your mind Course. Don't forget to bring your kids, they take them all the way down to 3-years-old. You can never be too early laying in the foundation of a mindless devotion.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Moon Made Full By Your Elected Officials

File under: Backroom Gurudom, The Siddhi of PR and Wackadoo Gurus

A short film by a couple of journalists chronicling the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's rise to power in the U.S. by way of his control of a Washington D.C. newspaper and large contributions to the radical Christian right. It proves the maxim: if you give them money, they will grovel at your feet, despite how fucking far out of your gourd you are.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Whiny Hindus To Get Love Guru Preview

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Paramount Pictures is apparently seeking to appease a whiny Hindu organization (in Reno, Nevada, of all places) and has agreed to screen the The Love Guru, Mike Myers' upcoming summer blockbuster:
Prominent Indo-American leader Rajan Zed, who spearheaded this issue, says that guru is a highly revered spiritual teacher, master and preceptor in Hinduism who helps remove the ignorance of the seeker.
Actually, we quite agree with this. That's what a guru should be. But then, there are a lot of should bes that aren't in the world, including the quaint little picture presented above. We're not saying there aren't gurus like this. In truth, there are plenty of them. But most big-time gurus, the type we address here, are not in this class. At best, they are misguided and naive. They certainly all have a public face and a private face. It is the darkness of the private face that determines how nasty they are, although a sincere yet naive guru can do a lot of damage as well.

We doubt Paramount will actually change the film for these cry-babies. They may cut a few seconds here and there, but this movie is probably substantially complete, and we doubt Myers or the studio will fold over the issues these people are likely to raise.

And who knows? It might be that Paramount wants to make these folks upset. After all, they've already given the film a good deal of pre-publicity. Movie companies pay millions for that sort of thing, and here these uppity folks are all set to keep handing it to them for free.


Black Magic Guru Shoots Blanks

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

It began when a Hinduvta politician (the racist and nationalistic political movement in India) publicly claimed she was being harassed by tantric black magicians:
Everything started, when Uma Bharati (former chief minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh) accused her political opponents in a public statement of using tantrik powers to inflict damage upon her. In fact, within a few days, the unlucky lady had lost her favorite uncle, hit the door of her car against her head and found her legs covered with wounds and blisters.
In an effort to inject some sense into the Indian mediasphere, Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International, organized The Great Tantra Challenge, a TV ratings bonanza and proof these so-called tantric black magicians are nothing more than impotent con men with criminally-utilized pathological imaginations:
The encounter took place under the open night sky. The tantrik and his two assistants were kindling a fire and staring into the flames. Sanal was in good humour. Once the ultimate magic was invoked, there wouldn’t be any way back, the tantrik warned. Within two minutes, Sanal would get crazy, and one minute later he would scream in pain and die. Didn’t he want to save his life before it was too late? Sanal laughed, and the countdown begun. The tantriks chanted their “Om lingalingalingalinga, kilikilikili….” followed by ever changing cascades of strange words and sounds. The speed increased hysterically. They threw all kinds of magic ingredients into the flames that produced changing colours, crackling and fizzling sounds and white smoke. While chanting, the tantrik came close to Sanal, moved his hands in front of him and touched him, but was called back by the anchor. After the earlier covert attempts of the tantrik to use force against Sanal, he was warned to keep distance and avoid touching Sanal. But the tantrik “forgot” this rule again and again.

Now the tantrik wrote Sanal’s name on a sheet of paper, tore it into small pieces, dipped them into a pot with boiling butter oil and threw them dramatically into the flames. Nothing happened. Singing and singing, he sprinkled water on Sanal, mopped a bunch of peacock feathers over his head, threw mustard seed into the fire and other outlandish things more. Sanal smiled, nothing happened, and time was running out. Only seven more minutes before midnight, the tantrik decided to use his ultimate weapon: the clod of wheat flour dough. He kneaded it and powdered it with mysterious ingredients, then asked Sanal to touch it. Sanal did so, and the grand magic finale begun. The tantrik pierced blunt nails on the dough, then cut it wildly with a knife and threw them into the fire. That moment, Sanal should have broken down. But he did not. He laughed. Forty more seconds, counted the anchor, twenty, ten, five… it’s over!
Note that this was the third attempt to kill Sanal on live TV. All three failed of course, the last in front of 300-million viewers. It's no wonder we haven't been vanquished yet, as the reader who tipped us to this wonderful event jokingly warned us about.

This is one of the great tragedies of the Hinduvta. As long as the superstition of Hinduism, including ideas about black magic, gets promoted as canonical truth, India will never become the great world power these nationalist folks expect her to be. They are shooting themselves in the foot with every politician who hires black magicians, or fears them, making demonstrations like Sanal's one of the best things that can happen for the future of India.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kracking Up Families In India

FIle under: Satscams

The Bhagavan Kalki is cunning. He cuts a very low profile in the mediasphere while his cult festers like an open sore of the soft skin of Mother India, and anywhere there's a New Agey™ community in the West. His speciality, besides playing God (if God were a failed insurance man turned religious flimflammer), is cultivating ridiculous amounts of slavish devotion in what we can't imagine to be anything else but India's equivalent to American white trash. A distressed member of a Kracki-infected family relates:
I have been intensely troubled by the reach and scope of this scam. This fraudster calling himself Kalki, first said he was Bhagwan. Then they made sure, young boys had to join and become monks before they crossed the age of 19. That way he got a lot of middle class family boys who never got to finish their education. Even should they want to get out of the rotten system, they will have nothing to look forward to. My sister and her husband would have had a bread winning son in their midst now and would also have been happy and contented, instead of worrying about where they will live etc.

After that "Kalki" changed his mind. If you ask me, you can make out the scam, the many times this organisation changes rules so it can squeeze the "devotee" or the duped ones royally. So now, he raises the age bar. My niece also joins.

First the monks shave heads. And wear white. Then they are told they can wear normal dresses. So my sister and her husband go around buying clothes for the children, paying for their keep, paying for "darshans" and "Kalki" employs them to propogate his false status and powers. Suddenly an "Amma" appeared on the scene. Kalki gets to be happily married and live with his family. Not the poor duped monks. But their hallucination is strong.

My sister does all sorts of funny antics, wears white, doesn't read newspapers and acts high and mighty about having "arrived" spiritually. Such a woeful charade. Nothing has changed, problems have increased.

All the family which had this "divine" enlightenment, must have taken some strong drug filled stuff, because all of them had serious health problems after that. But they keep paying up to "Kalki".

A whole family's life is changed and it doesn't seem to be for the better. If you can no longer rationalize and "think" for yourself, it can in no way be a better life. The effect is like drugs, or some awful connection. The teachings have always been there in our spiritual texts, why does society need a fraud and a "presence". Such folly.
Such unmitigated evil. Truly, the blackest soul on the planet is the Kracki. He has perverted Vedanta to enhance a criminal enterprise, and he's leading hundreds of thousands down a primrose path toward a future of world-Krackidom that's just not going to come.

We look forward to the day the whole thing implodes. May those who got involved get uninvolved safely, but we've got a feeling it's going to be very, very warm where the Kracki and his co-conspirators are headed between lives.


Don't Fix The Broken Yogi

File under: Blogs of Note

Today we were informed one of our more challenging interlocutors in the comments on this blog, Conrad Goehausen, aka Broken Yogi, has one of his own, The Broken Yogi Samyama, in which we turned up a few months back:
I recently had an interesting exchange with Jody over at Guruphilliac over a criticism he made of Bharat Gajjar, an elderly yogic teacher in the Sivananda tradition teaching in Delaware who had mentioned in some newspaper interview that he at times felt and even saw Sivananda giving him guidance in how to teach others. Bharat also mentioned that some of his students had at times seen Sivananda as well. Jody, who otherwise liked the guy, felt that this was an exploitive and deluding thing to tell his students, and that it would lead to delusions on their part. In our exchange, in which I tried to defend Bharat, who otherwise seemed to be the picture of a benevolent and kindly yoga teacher, Jody makes it clear that he views all such claims that subtle phenomena actually exist outside the imaginal subjectivity of the practitioner as simply superstitious personal mythologies, and represent nothing more than cultural indoctrination of Hinduism which deludes and detracts from higher understanding.
And there is not one single shred of evidence to prove otherwise, BY, outside of the cataclysmic flood of wacky personal anecdotes which comprise spiritual wisdom for your average, horrifically un- and under-informed New Age™ seeker.

Every subtle experience every person has ever known has been confined to their own, subjective envelope, even those allegedly experienced by multiple individuals. As a practitioner of self-inquiry, please be advised that any subtle experience you might have is to be accompanied by one clear question: who is the one who is having this subtle experience? That's all is takes to discount all subtle experience in one fell swoop with regards to our actual truth of being (along with anything and everything else that seems to occur in this world of ours.)

Despite the fact he's labeled us a [gasp] "materialist," we're glad Broken Yogi comes by and takes the time to keep us honest. While we may not see eye-to-eye vis-á-vis the import of seemingly supernaturally-generated spiritual experiences, the big wide world holds open the space for both of us to appreciate each others' take on the business of uncovering what is real.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Moment With Martin

File under: Notable Quotes

As we were prowling the internets looking for noble spiritual teachers to savage with our superficial analysis, we came across a statement by Martin LeFevre we only found one thing to knock about:
The mind in meditation is like a laser effortlessly boring through all the strata accumulated in content-consciousness—not only from one’s own life, but also from the lives of all the previous generations within one. Through that opening the light of the cosmos pours into one, and one participates, however briefly, in the infinite intelligence beyond thought.
"Infinite intelligence" is just another idea to describe the indescribable.  It's an anthropomorphic gloss and the only blemish on an otherwise excellent essay. For example:
Spiritual development is the easiest thing to pretend, but meditative states are much harder to fake. Any bright man or woman can put on wisdom robes and pass himself or herself off as a guru. There’s an entire industry of such charlatans in the West now, eager to sell you their books, DVD’s, retreats, or whatever.

The ‘enlightened’ ones always teach people how to get from here to there. ‘Becoming’ sells, especially with regard to enlightenment. But no one ‘attains illumination,’ since there’s nothing to reach as an end.
There ain't no "there" to get to, folks. It's always here. But teachers like the O-so-presently-popular Eckhart Tolle are still selling you a way to get there. Why would they do this if they know there isn't any getting to a there that isn't? Because you still want to get where you've never not been, and they are almost as deluded as you thinking they've got some way to get you there.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Love Guru To Put Hindus' Panties Into Wad

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Austin Powers movie series actor Mike Myers has a summer release called The Love Guru coming soon to a theater near you, unless your town is full of fundie Hindus:
The Universal Society of Hinduism has expressed fear that the upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru may lampoon the religion and has demanded that it be shown to the society members for vetting before release.

President of the society Rajan Zed, who is based in Reno, Nevada, said in a statement issued in Chandigarh that from the information available about the movie, it appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and uses Hindu terms frivolously.
You just know those USH folks have the sense of humor of a road-kill skunk, so get ready for some fundie freaking-out along with your silly spoofy summer entertainments, with that freaking-out likely to only increase interest and attendance in the film. It might turn out that the USH protest may be the best thing to happen to The Love Guru, promotion-wise.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Tolle Takedown

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We can't imagine Eckhart Tolle would care about this bad review; at the moment, he's making millions:
Tolle writes the kind of new age quasi-mysticism that you would have hoped had died out along with the acid casualties of the 60s and is therefore virtually unreadable.

Take this quote from the opening paragraph in which he explains "The Purpose of This Book". "Is humanity ready for a transformation of consciousness, an inner flowering so radical and profound that compared to it the flowering of plants, no matter how beautiful, is only a pale reflection?"

It doesn't get any clearer as Eckhart rambles on in a similar manner for more than 300 pages, mixing portentous allusions to ideas, such as the Presence and the Pain-Body, with mind-numbingly dull parables.
Tolle is a tool for trying to sell us some Kracki 2012-type crap, but it explains his unfortunate success. He's yet another big-time guru stuffing his students' heads with nonsense about nondual truth because it sells books. And with O's fat ass behind him, get ready for 2008 to become the year of Tolle, the primary result being a mass gross-misunderstanding about the nondual truth of being.


TM™'s Vedic Lead-Poisoning

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

The recently-deceased Maharishi Mahesh Yogi made it to 90-years-old. Obviously, he wasn't using his own Vedic "health" products:
Tests by the Iowa Department of Public Health found the herb Garbhapal Ras was comprised of nearly 3 percent lead. Maharishi Ayurveda Products Ltd. is identified on the product bottle as the manufacturer, the lawsuit states.
On the other hand, lead-poisoning would explain a lot about the crazy old coot...

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Fundie Fumes At Oprah

File under: The Siddhi of PR

On the eve of the premiere of the free online self-help seminar she's giving with nondual nerd Eckhart Tolle, fundamentalist Christian TV-evangelist Bill Keller has begun marshaling his Christian solders against the "spiritual crack"-selling, "most dangerous woman in the world," Oprah Winfrey:
Oprah is now trying to be the spiritual guru to this nation. Sadly, she is being used as a tool of satan to lead millions of souls to hell with her false teachings.
While we are surely not on the same page as old Bill here, O has already proven herself dangerous to the inner clarity of her audience by promoting New Agey™ scams as the highest spiritual truths. While she seems to have stepped up some since those days not too long ago when she was shilling The Secret, we can't say Eckhart Tolle's attempts to sell us a war against the ego is really that much of an improvement.


Paris Pimps A Fauxru

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Oh Ma! You truly do love us! Thanks for bringing our two favorite things together into one stunning image:

A vapid pop princess pimping a preening poseur guru.

Update: As we revealed in the comments yesterday, today it was reported that Paris' "guru" is actually Hollywood actor Maxie Santillan Jr.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ramdev And Sri Sri BFFs?

File under: The Siddhi of PR

From the inky dark of the internets bursts forth a strident defender of Hinduism with this shaft of light bearing on the socio-political standing of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his new best bud, Swami Ramdev:
The 'category passes', that is, the more money you give, the more closer you would be to the action, is a very old practice. As old as humanity itself. In the context of Indian Yoga Gurus, this practice was revived in Yoga classes by Swami Ramdev, and [then] Sri Sri's organisation followed suit.

Both Ramdev and Sri Sri are Socio-Political Yoga Gurus who believe they are contributing to the building of the Indian Nation. Between both of them they now command the maximum following amongst Politicians, Indian Movie Stars, Industrialists, Media Journalists and Indian Sports Stars - more than any other Guru. This shared self-belief of Hindu Glory and the Rise of the Indian Nation is the basis of their camaraderie (Ramdev takes Sri Sri's advice on how to expand and run his 500 acre Patanjali Yogapeeth and Hospital in Haridwar, and both consult regularly on rallying the Hindu Saints on one platform on issues like Female Infanticide, Poverty, Farmer Suicides, Organic Farming, HIV/AIDS etc.) Both see themselves as inheritors of the Vedanta legacy of India and that they have been born on the planet to contribute to India's rise in stature and power.

To the westerners they may behave like Gurus or whatever but the analysis of the growth trends of their respective organisations and the strategy being adopted reveals the Hindu Pride and the politial element of their work.
We frequently come under fire for being anti-Hindu and ignoring the good that big-time gurus do in the world. Maybe we do sometimes, but only because the "good" they are doing comes at such a high cost. It's one thing to be a socio-political leader who campaigns for positive social reform, it's another to be called a God and have people expecting you to perform miracles. We realize this is a deeply Indian tradition, but that doesn't mean it's one a thinking person can't question.