Guruphiliac: October 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our First: The Guru Named Sue

File under: Wackadoo Gurus

True confession: New Age™ looney tunes guru Elizabeth Claire Prophet and her Church Universal and Triumphant made this blog what it is today. Briefly: we were some kind of wayward/lapsed Christian/faux-Rastafarian, Orange County, California beach mishmash until we met Sue. She was 12-years older and a former stewardess and model. Our first night together brought a whole new way of seeing and being in relationship with the Universe, one that we knew we knew all along as we got caught up in the grandiose certainty of it all. Being the blank slate we were at that time, we gobbled up the "I AM" books that form the basis of Prophet's shtick, feeling every suggested sensation in perfect harmony with their description in the book. How could it not be real!

Being hooked on the books, the experiences they were associated with, and a really hot older woman, we attended a 4th-of-July celebration called the Freedom conference at the church's stunning Camelot campus outside Malibu, California. The property was nothing short of spectacular, and the conference was surprisingly well-attended. We wandered like a puppy-dog along with Sue as she told us what it was like to be Crazy Liz's personal secretary. Then she revealed that Camelot was under psychic attack by the CIA, even going so far as to lead us to a room of people praying in shifts at 90 miles-an-hour in an effort to create a protecting vibration from all the mind-ray machines aimed at us.

It was on that somewhat discordant note that we were ushered into an indoctrination presentation for first-time visitors. There we found a guy up on a stage, ready to pour Crazy Liz's Kool-Aid down our gullets. Folks were asking questions, for which they would receive massive doses of official CUT dogma from the guy.

Someone asked about rock music, and surprisingly to us, our indoctrinator's tune was a virtually identical copy of what you'd hear in any deep red Baptist church. "It's of the Devil, because it's from the jungle. It's animal in nature and stains our cosmic glory bodies," or something like that. We'd heard it all before on Christian radio, which we'd been listening to until we met Sue. Since we already had that groove in our brain, we were ready to swallow it all, until we asked: "What about reggae music?"

Same answer. "It's from the jungle, the rhythms pollute the soul." Only classical music afforded a benefit to its listeners, all other forms of music were inferior.  How could they not be, they were mostly ethnic, and some were downright dangerous.  

For sure, because as soon as we heard that, we knew it was all bullshit. As certain as we were in our new mystical life, we were just as certain in our old one, which was enjoying the OC waves and then sitting on the beach, listening to Jamaican music while we enjoyed some of California's finest Cannabis indica.

We tried to keep it going with Sue, but without the allure of more mystical adventures to far out spiritual planes, it just wasn't worth the close-to-3-hour drive to stay in her seemingly dangerously flea-infested home. It wasn't an easy breakup, mostly because she went a bit stalker on us. Thankfully, she was finally able to realize that we weren't worth the effort, especially since we'd already taken up with our old girlfriend, who had become remarkably more compliant since seeing us hijacked for a month or so by our first real spiritual teacher, the guru named Sue.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Guru" Creates Youth Culture Nirvana

File under: The Siddhi of PR

It's more fun than a Sri Sri, Kracki, Kreepalu, and the Babaster in a barrel, about to float off the side of Niagara Falls.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Princess Huff-Post And The Evil Red Monk

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Wackadoo Gurus

We pulled this tip about Arianna Huffington from the spam bin this morning, and just spent some time explaining to the tipster why we weren't going to post about it:
The reason I won't post about this is that nobody is claiming special divinity. These kind of closed-circuit paths (strong leader whose ideas are rarely questioned) are culty, but that doesn't mean it's all exploitation. I'm convinced they can often work, but mostly out of a placebo-like effect. A persuasive description of the human condition leads to acceptance of the spiritual guidance it's packaged with, usually nothing more than a reflection of the leader's narcissism. Yet, despite how shaky the ideas may be, they can still work marvelously for right person.

Huffington's loyalty is only evidence that she believes it works. Her attempts to cultify her org are a function of her unconscious grandiosity more than evil cult impulse. If somebody was saying they were God, and it made them special, then I'd be inclined to comment.
But then we actually read the whole thing, and got to this:
John-Roger is depicted as a paranoid leader who secretly wires each room in Insight headquarters with a microphone connected to his office, who taps the phones, and who warns that his critics "had been infected by a powerful and contagious negative force known as the Red Monk," a spirit of whom members were terrified. He removed "negative entities" in a popular "exorcism-like" ceremony known as the "Super II's," organized hours-long "Prana Awareness Trainings" involving "repeatedly answering a simple question," and organized followers into a complex hierarchy, including a Melchizedek Priesthood and an inner, elite circle of attractive young male ministers known as "the Guys."
It's not like Huffington is the first well-regarded person to fall for a wackadoo guru (if these fables of psychic warfare actually do circulate in the org,) but it is a bit of a letdown to read about it in light of her substantial contribution to the national conversation these last few years.

But come on, evil red monks and awareness drilling? It sounds like J-R has been smoking too much Star Wars.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Art of Living's Art Of Lying?

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Like a dog that keeps coming back to the same dirty, old bone, we find ourselves irresistably attracted to the task of debunking Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Fortunately, folks much more informed than us are gracing the blog at the moment:
Apart from the elementary school in the Bangalore Ashram campus, there is nothing that is provided free to poor and destitute children in India or anywhere else. Bangalore school gives education to about 250 students and if all the money collected by AoL was spent on these children, they would have been millionaires by now!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not claiming that AoL does not spend anything on philanthropic activities. It does. My point is that the amount collected by AoL to be (supposedly) spent on its charitable activities is egregiously disproportionate to actual charity work done by it. In any case, if they did not spend anything on charity, it would be difficult for them to extract money in the name of charity. So, they do have a share of token charity activities, which are hyped by their PR managers to attract more gullible people and more money.

The second thing about the organization is lack of transparency about their finances. If you have spent few years in AoL, you would remember ‘a dollar a day’ scheme floated circa year 2000. This was supposedly to build a fund to support underprivileged children in India. Do you still hear about this? This scheme vanished all of a sudden. No one knows what happened to the money collected in its name. My AoL teacher told me that the money was spent on other philanthropic activities such as tsunami relief etc. Is it not unethical? If the money was collected in the name of helping poor children, how can it be spent on any other cause (even if the other cause was also worthy)? May be I wanted to help poor children but I don’t want to contribute to tsunami victims. How can AoL take me for granted?

AoL has cultivated such powerful connections in media, that no one is willing to cross them. (Owner of “Times of India”, Sandhya Jain is an AoL devotee). Combine it with average Hindu’s reluctance to speak ill of any holy (?) man for fear of inviting sin, and you have the perfect recipe for AoL phenomenon.
Until the books are examined by an independent accounting firm, AoL's "charity" activities are little more than a black box, and seemingly likely to be nothing more than a case of bait-and-switch labeling.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sri Sri Gets Cock-Blocked For A PP

File under: The Siddhi of PR

An Indian scholar visiting Oslo, Norway, and the Nobel Peace Prize Institute, sets the record straight for one Sri Sri Ravi Shankar fawner somehow associated with the Nobel Committee:
The Norwegian doctor had heard that this man had brought peace to Kashmir, and had promoted organic agriculture in thousands of Indian villages. She had been asked to promote his candidacy for the prize, and indeed the man himself had been to Oslo several times recently. She asked me if I would give my opinion on the matter.

“I answered that so far as I knew, there was no peace in Kashmir. I observed that what the West refers to as ‘organic farming’ we knew as rain-fed agriculture—and that this nothing new…. Finally, I suggested to the doctor that if not giving Gandhi the prize was a scandal, awarding it to my fellow townsman would be an even bigger scandal.”
Perform the due diligence, noble Nobel Peace Prize committee. It's about time someone did. I don't think all will be surprised at just how thinly this membrane of "worldwide NGO" is stretched, and where most of the fatty bits are landing. (Hello first-class seating!)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The One Where Sri Sri Grandstands Again

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar jumps up and down and waves his arms for the Nobel Peace Prize committee, again. Whatever.

What he doesn't want them to know is that he receives a lion's share of his support from some of the same kind of people (Hindu fundamentalists) stoking the fires of genocide in Orissa.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Guru Turns Into Post-Assassination Hitler

File under: The Siddhi of PR

When charismatic Hindu preacher Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was assassinated in India's eastern Orissa State back on August 23, it was believed to be the work of Maoist rebels. Not anymore. It looks like someone (like BJP supporters the Bajrang Dal and the VHP) has taken up the cause of his revenge, spun together with a little added Christian-bashing:
The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop.

They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

“‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’”
Ramakrishna Paramhamsa is spinning in his ashes like a West Texas twister right now. One can only hope that Sri Saraswati's are rotating with an equal velocity, but we kind of doubt it.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Big-Time Guluded

File under: The Siddhi of PR

You know what they say when something sounds too good to be true:
Another remarkable fact about this spiritual science experiment is its simplicity, no learning, no prior knowledge and no practice is required at all, and also without spending even a single penny from one’s pocket. It can be performed by any curious and interested person, sitting in any corner of the world, as Guru Siyag induces the spiritual power telepathically.
The plain fact of it all is that it does work—by way of the timeless power of gulusion. Sometimes all it takes is a suggestion that something is going to happen to see the Kundalini Express leave the station. This guy is guaranteed a certain amount of success regardless of what he spouts, as long as he makes the claim he's going to do something to you supernaturally. He just laid the track for those who've got new wheels for the rails, as well every other space-parent addict looking for some more hand-holding.

Good, bad, in a guru, it doesn't really matter, as evidenced above. Bad gurus have worked great for great devotees throughout history. As long as they have your attention and a piece of your faith, they can be projected as the cause of anything you want to give them credit for, or blame them for. It's all because you can accept they have supernatural powers, as this guy would have us to believe.

"Guru" Siyag wants you to be as guluded as he is, and unfortunately for many of us, that's just what the caterwauling inner child ordered.