Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Spectrum of Our Beliefs

"One thing that I have on mind, am I the only reader of this blog who is, as of today, skeptical of these abuses? Can I also ask you, Seekher, your opinion about this serious matter (if you feel comfortable about writing it)? I think it would be quite good to have more feedbacks.

Pp"
-----------------------------------

I've been following the thread of comments to my last post with great interest but not much free time; which is just as well. I prefer to hear a number of opinions and voices speak on this indelicate, central, alleged, irrefutable, supposed matter of abuse. I characterize it with this string of antonyms because that seems to sum up the main points of contention in both camps.

Here's what I'd like to say. There is only one camp and we are all in it together. Like Anon 70 and others who have contributed to this thread, I feel there are only degrees of belief and disbelief—whether in the infallibility of the Guru, or in the culpability of SY leaders. This spectrum contains all the colors and shades of our collective belief system. And it is possible to move back and forth between them. In fact, it is required.

When I first began looking on the Internet for information about SY a few years ago, I happened on a message board that contained postings from an angry and disillusioned community of people who had self-identified as having left SY. It appalled and fascinated me. Never before had I experienced people voicing such passionate, forbidden dissent from the "official line" of SY. I joined the LSY group as an anonymous "lurker" and read for a few days, then abruptly discontinued my membership. Later, I told a friend that the act of having read there had "cratered my devotion." I now more fully understand what I meant—having accessed that forum I could no longer see the Guru in a universally beneficent, wholly good light (and what was the nature of devotion in Siddha Yoga if not nursing and nurturing these very feelings about the Guru?)

Much of what I read at LSY felt venomous, particularly to someone who was accustomed to following the "never a discouraging word" discourse of the ashram. Still, I harbored doubts about the Guru for the first time in my life. What I wanted more than anything was to shut those doubts down as quickly as possible. I had read enough online to know that anyone who posted at LSY saying that they were still "in" SY would not be welcome. Faced with choosing the path I knew and loved and had followed for years, or reaching out to a group of (I thought at the time) often bitter, sometimes hostile people, I chose to ignore my doubts and renew my practice.

I might have been successful at that for my whole life, had Gurumayi not disappeared. I've written here that the last time I saw her was at the 2004 message talk in South Fallsburgh: "Experience the Power Within. Kundalini Shakti." I loved that message more than all the others. I felt that Gurumayi was returning to the roots of our tradition, and I welcomed the renewed focus on the Goddess with the attendant release of Gurumayi's Kundalini Stavaha chanting CD, a chant I had become enamored with years before after reading a slim volume of Baba's commentary on it, that the foundation had subsequently let go out of print.

But what I thought was a renewal began to seem more and more like a farewell, as the years passed and no news of Gurumayi was forthcoming. More disturbing, I felt that my connection to the inner Guru had been severed. Despite trying to maintain devotion through my spiritual practices they seemed dry, or more to the point, unnecessary. As many have noted in their comments here, I was a bhakta, and Gurumayi was the focus of my devotional life, the object of my contemplations, meditations and chanting. I never had any trouble summoning up a mental image of her, or remembering how she had caressed a particular teaching with her exquisite phrasing, enunciating it perfectly in her inimitable, darkly lush, spellbinding voice.

No more. I felt Gurumayi slipping away--something that in the past would have filled me with such unease that I would instantly redouble my practices. For years I had thought of myself as being like a dog on a chain that Gurumayi held in her hands. The chain was very long, and she let me wander very far but at some point I'd reach the end with a yank and be called home. (Strange now to think that this was a comforting image, me as a pet of the Guru, but it was.) Now the pole that that tethered me to my center was gone.

Eventually, I don't know why or how, I became angry too. Not because I knew or believed anything about abuse in SY, or financial mismanagement, or instances of crushing cruelty, or because I felt that staff members were being exploited. No, I became angry for a very selfish and very human reason: I had been told and sold a lifelong connection with a spiritual teacher, who was abruptly MIA. I was angry at the conjecture I heard at the ashram and centers that Gurumayi had withdrawn herself as a teaching to find the Guru within. I was angry that there were no straight answers as to where she was, or if and when she would return. People I ran into who had recently been to SF told me she was in India. People I ran into who had come from India said, no, she is in SF. For once, the official line from SYDA management was not damage control, or spin, or a comforting platitude, but only complete silence.

If Gurumayi had withdrawn for a time, or even permanently, in order to shut down the cult of personality that had grown up around her like poisonous weeds, and which was strangling her devotees' true practice of the teachings—why not state so? Why not have one last global message and deliver the healing blow to everyone in the worldwide sangham at once? Why the secrecy and silence? Why the privileged access to (mis)information that in retrospect, always characterized communication in SY, i.e. an inner circle knows everything, they communicate the official line to "higher ups" in ashrams and centers, who read it as an announcement in programs or, in this case, keep it a secret and say nothing at all?

So, I began this blog. To break the silence and get some answers. Soon after I took that step I realized that I could now visit LSY and read there with detachment, objectively seeking truth about all the stories that had been hinted at for years. I ignored the message boards of exSY'ers and read the archives which were first gathered by Pendragon and are now maintained by Daniel Shaw. Many of the first-hand experiences there are highly personal, but still moving accounts of people who lived at the ashram, or were close to the inner circle, and who had left after becoming disillusioned by what they saw. These were not accounts that chronicled abuse or crimes that would convince a skeptic. I considered them carefully but read on.

I soon found other accounts that were much more objectively incriminating. I link to the pages that contain those testimonies here for the convenience of those who would like to read and consider the information under discussion. For those who have already read these and considered them, I ask your patience—they must be a sad and repetitive litany. Others perhaps might find these links useful in navigating the chronologically unorganized archives of LSY testimony and evidence.

The first account I took very seriously was the letter of resignation Swami Abhayananda sent to Muktananda in 1981. I found it to be a heart-wrenching statement from someone who had given his life to a cause he now felt he had to renounce, because his personal investigations had led him to discover testimony from long time SY insiders, whom he knew and personally trusted, as to the abuse they experienced and witnessed, including threats of violence from members of Muktananda's inner circle. That document can be found here:

http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/abhayananda.htm

Next I read an article published two years later, in 1983, by William Rodarmor in CoEvolution Quarterly. The article documented the same instances of abuse and physical threats and, significantly, implicated Malti as one of the insiders who counseled girls who had been abused by warning them to keep silent. The magazine independently contacted the individuals behind the accusations made in the article and verified their testimony (while the accusations were denied by SYDA, neither the magazine nor the author were sued for libel by the foundation, a fact I personally find significant.) That article, and an accompanying commentary from Abhayananda can be read here:

http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/secret.htm

The article in CQ appeared during the turbulent period just before Muktananda's death, in which he installed first Nityananda as his sole successor, then Chidvilasanda some months later as his co-successor. Like other devotees who joined SY after the succession drama was resolved in favor of Gurumayi, I knew little or nothing of what went on at that time. That changed when I read Sarah Caldwell's scholarly account of those years, in which she attempted to reconcile "two apparently contradictory theses: namely that Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) was an enlightened teacher and practitioner of an esoteric form of Tantric sexual yoga, and that he also engaged in actions that were not ethical, legal, or liberatory with many disciples."

I found this fascinating and beautifully written work very convincing, precisely because it was penned by a devotee who was a first-hand witness to the events that unfolded, and who was trying to find a way to accept them as legitimate without justifying what she knew to be abuse, so that she could maintain her faith in the path. Interestingly, Caldwell's account has been criticized not by SYDA, but by exSY people who note that she was a devotee of (the then exiled) Nityananda's when she wrote the piece, and therefore, compelled to rehabilitate Baba's reputation because the legitimacy of her own Guru hung in the balance.

Her article can be read here:

http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/pdf/10.1525/nr.2001.5.1.9

Permit me a diversion to provide some personal background. I joined SY in 1987, after the sex scandals and succession drama had receded into the background. Sure, there were whispers, but the people I heard them from on the "inside" dismissed the allegations as baseless, while those on the "outside" who brought these things up I discounted as jealous, or just not "yogic". It would be seven years before I had to seriously question that attitude, but that day did come with the publication of Lis Harris' article in The New Yorker, "Oh, Guru, Guru, Guru" in 1994. I was a serious devotee by that time, having spent weeks out of every of summer in SF doing Intensive seva, and having gone on tour with Gurumayi in Italy, Germany and Poland, as well as taking numerous sevas at my local center. When the article appeared my seva supervisor, a woman with an amazing heart and mind that I trusted without question and whom I still respect greatly, urged all her sevites to read the article and make up their own minds. That impressed me; I had expected a blanket edict to avoid reading it. She even passed out copies. That moved me to read it. The thing is, I had worked at The New Yorker during this period of my life. I knew the integrity of the magazine and its iron-clad rules about fact-checking and verifying sources. This was no sensational tabloid cover story. This was an exhaustively researched, thoroughly documented account of violence, blackmail, sexual abuse and rape within the highest levels of SY leadership. It can be read here:

http://www.ex-cult.org/Groups/SYDA-Yoga/leave.txt

I read it and I ignored it. Basically, I told myself: "it's not my experience." I took refuge in my experiences, I contemplated them, I took more Intensives to see if the Shakti would still be there, still be strong for me and it was. I knew people, good people who were dropping away and I felt bad for them. I still loved them in my heart, still wished them well, prayed that they would find the grace to return again.

One of the fallouts of the NYer article was the founding of the online community LSY, in which people who had left SY could converse, compare notes and cross-check each other's stories for the first time. As part of this effort to construct a chronology of abuse, the founder of that forum, Pendragon, repeatedly petitioned Swami Abhayanada to issue a follow-up statement confirming the allegations he had made years earlier in his letter of resignation. He eventually consented (though even Abhayanada was put-off by Pendragon's "suspicious and combative" tone.) This letter goes into more detail about the events surrounding his departure and the abuse of young women he heard about first hand. The letter can be found here:

http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/abhayananda_st.htm

As the online community grew in numbers and as the corporate structure of SY began to decline in power, some of those who were abused felt confident enough to tell their stories first-hand. Joan Radha Bridges posted her story of sexual abuse at the hands of Baba Muktananda only after reading LSY for years. It can be read here:

http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/Radha_story.htm

Other accounts substantiate the sexual abuse of devotees at the hands of George Afif and Ram Butler, trusted heads of SY organization and teachings. But I won't post links for these here. If you've read the links above you've done enough homework to decide what you believe and what is right for you. No, you don't have to become an expert in "cults" to come to a decision about SY's dirty laundry. But, if you're reading here at all it seems you want to explore and find the truth out for yourself.

This post is really a continuation of the discussion begun in the long thread of comments left to my last post. It's neither an essay, nor a considered statement about one or another aspect of Siddha Yoga culture, teachings or practices. I do intend to return to those. But it seems we have gathered here a community of people who are in various stages of coming to grips with what SY was and where it is now. The links I've included here are merely things I've read that I've found helpful in doing just that.

To answer your question, Pp, that I appended at the beginning of this post; no, you are not the only reader who is skeptical that serious abuses occurred in SY. Many others share your apprehension and doubt. Unfortunately, after studying all the evidence linked to here, and more, I can no longer count myself among that number.

So, after reading all this you might ask—do I consider myself to be "in" or "out" of Siddha Yoga?

My answer would have to be: Yes.

Looking forward to all of your responses and comments.

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've known of 3 persons in the Christian tradition who were charming, charismatic, very helpful and wonderful people.

They were the kind of people who elicited trust and devotion from others and on whom others came to rely.

All of them overworked to exhaustion, driven by inner compulsion. Then found they were burned out but they didnt have the energy to oversee a farewell process or the adult insight needed empathize with the sadness their counselees would feel and they may not have had the skill needed to arrange a terminatio/farewell ritual in which all could participate before the weary minister's departure.

Instead, rather than face this and go through all this, these three persons just vanished. No explanation, no advance notice. They disappeared, and it was as though they were dead and with no funeral to to.

And in so doing they abandoned their friends and counselees.

One was a renowned spiritual director, on whose wisdom and charisma, many depended. The second was in a Catholic religious order being trained as a chaplain. The third had a beneficial career as a creator- director of an innovative chaplaincy program.

When these three people disappeared, it was trauma/abandonment for their friends,their counselees. Phones rang off the hook. The successor of the chaplaincy director went crazy coping with endless questions of where his predecessor was. He had his hands full taking over the program and coping with the mysterious disappearance of this other person added substantially to his stress levels.

And lets think of the admin assistants who had to field all the desperate phone calls and messages found themselves swamped, besieged, in some cases dealing with people not only bereaved but in crisis.

This abrupt leader abandonment is thus not unheard of in the religion field, and hits our most basic trust levels. Whether the leader is Hindu, Christian or something else... this hurts and at a deep level.

It is profoundly wounding for those left disoriented and abandoned by the leader who elicited their loyalty but then turned out (for whatever reason) to be incapable of reciprocating their loyalty. Especially a leader to whom one had to account for ones own comings and goings, for whom one had to show up on time.

The ability to give shakti is not the same as the ability to admit one's limitations and then oversee a farewell and leave taking process.

There is no way a leader's abilities with shakti can compensate for inability to learn and use ordinary adult human relationship skills, such as communication and saying goodbye. Using shakti may turn out to conceal one's inability to be loyal and reliably caring of other persons and may conceal lack of basic relationship skills--for which shakti talent cannot compensate.

There is a parable in Zorba the Greek, told by an old Muslim who lived in Turkish Crete, who said to young Zorba,

'There are seven levels in heaven and seven levels in the world. God is too great to be contained in them, but the human heart can contain Him.

'So', the old man concluded, 'my boy, be careful, very careful, never to wound someone's heart.'

When a religious leader causes us to give them our hearts in devotion, they'd better know that the human heart must never be wounded, nor can it be played with as a toy, or tossed aside as a child tosses aside a toy that has become boring.

IMO, I do not think we are here or were given hearts to be leela'd/toyed with then, discarded and tossed aside with no explanations.

One need not say goodbye to an object. But one must bid a proper farewell to persons, for persons have hearts and are not objects.

And, most certainly, we and our hearts, are not toys.

3rdeyeopen said...

Did anyone hear it announced that gm is NEVER coming back? I have not.

BTW, gm and I are almost the same age by a few months. When I went through my 'changes' I got very fussy about life. And if you all think she is a superwoman without physical bodily functions then there's a bridge near my apt that's for sale.

I do not have abandonment issues regarding her break/departure/ sabbatical. I have no broken heart over this. My wish is to have real victims speak their truth and to clean up any shit stains on the carpets for the sake of integral leadershipship.

Anonymous said...

This is a serious question.

Since you mentioned Daniel Shaw, why is it that more people hate Daniel than hate the SY machine? And they seem to do so with more venom. You can read this in all the SY-related noards and archives.

It reminds me of the Monty Python film "Life of Brian," where the PFLP spent more energy fighting the PLFP, and vice versa, than they did in fighting their common enemy. This can be seen today in Gaza/Palestine, where Hamas and Fatah kill more of each other than does Israel, their sworn enemy.

What is it about Siddha Yoga that makes people get so angry towards each other. Is it because they cannot communicate with, or achieve any gains, against their common enemy, the SYDA foundation.

SYDA must be having the last laugh.

Stuart said...

I lived in the Ganeshpuri ashram from 1981-84. It was around this time that whispers about Baba diddling little girls first started to make the rounds. I was never in the inner circle, but I hung out with many people who were, people with lots of direct contact with the guru.

What I can tell you about the "rumors," the thing that convinced me of their truth, was that when the people closest to Baba discussed them, no one said, "That can't possibly be true!" No one said, "That sounds nothing like the Baba I know!"

The reactions were of two sorts. Some of the people took it for granted that the accusations were true, based on the way they'd seen Baba acting in private. And some would say thing like, "If what they say is true, then I say congratulations for a man that old who can still fool around!" Or, "If Baba did this, it must have been for the girls' spiritual development!"

Baba even implicitly referred to the allegations in his talks, and it was never in a way to deny them. He'd say things comparing himself to Jesus, saying that if people were against him, it was like those who crucified Christ, and that we should just be happy he's still alive.

Notice that Gurumayi has never denied the accusations, but rather would always meet the question with avoidance, like, "Nothing can take away what I've been given."

I personally heard Amma talking about how Baba had sent goons to physically threaten Chandra and Michael Dinga, trying to intimidate them from writing a book saying "bad things" about Baba. At the time, I didn't know exactly what those bad things were, but the very fact of a guru using Mafia tactics like this should give one pause.

The point to all this is: it's not just the evidence supporting the allegations, as SeekHer has presented. It's that on the other side of the scale, there's nothing, absolutely nothing. There's no one who has ever made any slightly believable case, or presented any counter-evidence, to make a rational person doubt what the New Yorker reported.

BTW, to the person who asked about Dan Shaw... MOST people who no longer worship at the SYDA altar appreciate what Dan has done, and MOST of the flak that he's taken isn't from ex-SY people, but from SY loyalists. It can be explained by the fact that he's the most public, visible face of LSY, and his outspoken, sometimes combative style.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

SeekHer, I applaud the lucid way you have laid out the evidence and the links to the crucial letters and articles that form the core of what must be seen to understand the problem of what is at the core of SY.

I also can relate to the journey you have taken here. I was a big bhakta myself and was quite immersed in SM, having been around (never one of the insiders, though) since 1974.

It seems as though I disengaged with a personal relationship with GM as inner and outer Guru at the same time she was withdrawing from the scene. I continued to go through the motions of the practices of meditation and chanting (at the centers only) but my sense of attachment to GM gradually disappeared. I found myself rather exploring the Divine Mystery beyond name, beyond form, and beyond any spiritual path.

It was in that state of well, free fall, that Jesus came into my life. It has been very interesting integrating the above with the tenets of Christian belief. Mostly I approach the dogmas as metaphor.

But I digress from my original intent of posting! When I was in the free fall state is when I first started exploring gingerly the LSY site maintained by Dan Shaw. It has only been recently that I have really looked at everything that is available there and realized that at the heart of SY is a flawed and morally questionable center. Part of my reluctance was that until last year out of respect for my husband's SY practice, I continued to attend Satsangs to provide musical support. But I found the devotional aspect impossible to maintain. Also my husband was not crazy about my talking aoout Jesus, post-Satsang! So when I stopped going I went back to LSY, joined exSY and got involved online. I also found Marta's blog very helpful in this exploration and now your blog has taken the exploration to remarkable level as people feel freer to open up.

Peace and Love to all,

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

They have announced that the new year's global satsang for 2008 will be called "A Sweet Surprise". There are a couple of theories here: Is Gurumayi going to speak? Are they going to hand out sweets at the door? ;) Anyway, whatever the "surprise" is or is not, I'm planning to attend, because the Shakti is still there, my kind-hearted and lovable friends are there, and even better still, all those nasty people who gave Siddha Yoga its bad name, left many years ago... so attending a satsang is a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Seekher,

Posting comment before I am able to read everything.

Some points

"I feel there are only degrees of belief and disbelief—whether in the infallibility of the Guru, or in the culpability of SY leaders. This spectrum contains all the colors and shades of our collective belief system. And it is possible to move back and forth between them. In fact, it is required."


I haven't finished your whole entry, but this stops me. First off, innocents were harmed. Further discussion of the facts around that will cause more harm. I am willing to believe it happened and happened in a culture we do not understand at all.

Listen, we are talking about a culture where a guy recently married his dog because his guru told him to. It even made it to the national news. Guy posed for pictures with his dog all gussied up. You know someone in SY would have done the same thing. GM would have had a good laugh. She loved to watch us make asses of ourselves.

There is a spectrum of belief agreed, but when innocents are harmed, justice is required. Then we can move on. When justice cannot be brought (or bought?), good faith effort is expected. Even a gesture. What is there to protect in the SY path if this conversation and action doesn't happen?

The path had some good points. The gurus couldn't live up to the whole shenanigan because it is not based on a whole gestalt. It's fractured. Totally postmodern thing. How do you integrate that? Gobblygook. Is this like sausage? Better not to know. Just eat and enjoy?

From here on out we should just be nice to each other. That's my gig. And help each other restore our faith in something. Stop scoring verbal hits off each other on this blog like vanpires do. Yes, there are real flesh and blood people behind every pixel and keystroke. I never forget that. This is actually intimate here, not so public.

Awesome service to the community Seeker this blog. Thank you for fitting it's ongoing maintenance in to your life. Appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

"Since you mentioned Daniel Shaw, why is it that more people hate Daniel than hate the SY machine?"

Bad Guys always hate the Good Guys. In this movie anyway.

Anonymous said...

">>> and even better still, all those nasty people who gave Siddha Yoga its bad name, left many years ago... so attending a satsang is a pleasure".<<<<


Really? it sounds as though there's at least one "nasty person" left.
anonymous

Anonymous said...

Why do people hate Daniel Shaw?

Perhaps because he is articulate, and describes SY not from its own perspective, but from an outside perspective and by using the tools and insights of professional psychoatherapy.

This former insider writes in such a way that we get to imagine how and on what terms SY is assessed by those indepenent of SY and independent of its guru.

For Dan reported that the guru had disliked those who were strong enough (presumably not to need her) and yet had contempt for those who were considered weak and needed her.

Dan's words are those of a man who once needed the guru and is now strong enough no longer to need her--a very challenging affront indeed--and proof that one can get away from SY and thrive in an independent career.

Dan also functions as a healer, and if the guru considers herself a healer, she might well be jealous that a former devotee can do work as a healer independently of SY, demonstrating that SY doenst have any monopoly on healing--and that people can get away and reclaim their powers.

Ditto for Marta Szabo.

Dan also shows us what SY looks l like, when evaluated not in the blurry astigmatic method of tantra, but in the bright focused light of professional psychotherapy.

Which would be an unwelcome reminder to SY that there is an outside world to which SY remains accountable.As do any therapists and health care professionals who are SY devotees.

Guru-ing is unfortunately not regulated by law, but psychotherapy is, and unlike gurus, therapists are accountable to an ethos of care.

Dan shows us what we get when we seek healing from an organization and guru from a tradition in which there is no ethos of care and the presumption that a guru can never do wrong--which means any trouble automatically falls on the disciple.

In this article

http://www.danielshawlcsw.com/traumatic_abuse.htm

Shaw wrote how in the course of training to become a social worker, his eyes were opened in relation to SY.

"In my first social work field placement, many of the clients I was assigned described terrible histories of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in childhood, and in some cases were involved in ongoing abuse, either as perpetrators or victims.

"Many of these clients were struggling to recover from devastating addictions. Although my own life has been something of a bed of roses in comparison with the suffering these clients have known, I soon discovered I had a deeper connection to their experiences than I at first realized.

"I had always portrayed my participation in Siddha Yoga (also known as SYDA), to myself and others, as an idealistic commitment to a noble spiritual path, dedicated to spiritual awakening and upliftment in the world. Just after school began, my perceptions were shattered when I learned of an incident concerning a friend of mine, a young woman just turned 21, who was sexually harassed in the ashram by one of its most powerful male leaders.

"When she sought help from Gurumayi, the now 48-year-old female Indian guru who is the head of the ashram, Gurumayi told the young woman, with contempt and disdain, that she had brought the harassment upon herself. Through her chief assistant, Gurumayi warned the young woman, "don't ever tell anyone about this, especially not your mother."

The woman's mother, who had made substantial donations to the ashram over the years, was a long-time devotee of Gurumayi’s. After two years of intense inner conflict, the young woman finally did tell her story. As a result, many others began to speak out, eventually contributing to an extensive exposé of SYDA in The New Yorker magazine (Harris, 1994).

"Published just two months after I started graduate school, the article revealed a Pandora's box of well-documented abuses by the leaders of SYDA that had been going on for more than 20 years.
"
and

"I had deeply suppressed my doubts about SYDA for many years, but they suddenly and dramatically crystallized when I heard the story of the young woman I knew. In the phrase, "Don't ever tell anyone about this, especially not your mother," I heard a chilling echo of the voice of the incestuous father, the battering husband, the sexual harasser, the rapist. As Judith Herman says, in her seminal work entitled Trauma and Recovery (1992), "secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense" (p. 8). It was hearing these words, "Don't ever tell," that broke for me what Ernst Becker (1973) has called "the spell cast by persons -- the nexus of unfreedom." I recognized that, like many of my social work clients who were abused as children by their parents, I too had been subjected to abuse—by the person I called my guru."

In the same article Dan wrote of the impossible task of pleasing the guru:

"Because the devotees were stigmatized by Guru for any expression of dissatisfaction, devotees suppressed these feelings, which then emerged through somatization. Physical illness was more acceptable to Guru, because he saw himself as a healer and could use a devotee's illness to demonstrate his power. If his healing efforts failed, however, devotees' illnesses were deemed a manifestation of their resistance, proving that they were hostile to Guru's mission. Punishment by shunning followed, which led either to devotees' further submission, or to their excommunication (Kliger, 1994, pp. 232-233).

"These kinds of shizophrenegenic mixed messages were pervasive in SYDA as well. For most of those SYDA members that I knew personally who worked directly with Gurumayi, attempting to please her would eventually lead to breakdowns in physical and mental health.

"*Gurumayi resented people who were confident, and she was contemptuous of people who were weak.* Trying to be what Gurumayi wanted you to be so that she would remain pleased with you was impossible, because she changed the rules at whim.

"It was common for staff members to disappear suddenly because they had been sent to rehabilitation centers for various addictions or disorders, or to a SYDA center in Honolulu for rest.

"In cults, breakdown is often the only option for members who have humiliated and diminished themselves as far as they could, and who unconsciously seek some sort of escape from the leader’s insatiable demands for further abasement and submission"

Finally, the loss of personal agency:

"experiencing oneself as a center of agency and initiative, as a creative person capable of taking pleasure in the use of one's own talents and skills, should be a source of shame—because nothing belongs to oneself; it all belongs to and comes from the guru. On the other hand, one must always be ready to confess and take credit for one's sins and transgressions—which in this system, are the sole property of the follower and his small, impure, selfish ego. The cult leader depends on maintaining the smallness, guilt, and shame of her followers as an essential means of sustaining her own delusion of impeccable perfection. "

SeekHer said...

"They have announced that the new year's global satsang for 2008 will be called "A Sweet Surprise". There are a couple of theories here: Is Gurumayi going to speak? Are they going to hand out sweets at the door? "

I also got that email announcing the audio satsang, but was brought up short by the childish promise: a sweet surprise. I'm honestly not up for anymore "surprises" from Gurumayi or SY. I'd much prefer an open and honest communication between SYDA and the worldwide sangham over a teasing invitation that could be promising nothing more than a lolly at the door!

That said, should Gurumayi actually speak, I'll likely drop the dime for the webcast at home, (which will be available until Feb 15, according to the SY website.)

Anonymous said...

"Sweet Surprise."

Wow. OK, they've baited the hook. Who will still bite?

The obvious marketing strategy is to make everybody start gossiping about whether the "sweet surprise" means GM's actually gonna show up and put in a day's work for the first time in, what is it now???
Four years???

My money's on betting that it's NOT gonna be her, it simply means they're going to change the focus from the same "Kundalini Shakti" focus they've had since 2004 to, officially, something else (finally).

If GM actually shows up and talks, I'll be quite surprised, to say the least.

What gets me wrapped around the axle is the blatancy of the marketing in playing upon (or preying upon?) the remaining still-loyal devotees' feelings of missing GM. The intended lure, the "draw" is blatant.

Let's see whether welching takes place, or delivery. Four weeks, a mere 28 days, to go until we find out.

Anonymous said...

"What gets me wrapped around the axle is the blatancy of the marketing in playing upon (or preying upon?) the remaining still-loyal devotees' feelings of missing GM. The intended lure, the "draw" is blatant."

Grinds my gears too. This is the absolute sinister cruelty because the wounds are interior, unseen.

Anonymous said...

Peace unto you and you. So I assume the only way you guys got into a higher state was with the practices?

Anonymous said...

Someone said "Peace unto you and you. So I assume the only way you guys got into a higher state was with the practices?

December 3, 2007 2:05 PM"

Dear Anon 12/3 2:05:

What kind of "higher state" are you talking about? I want to understand precisely what a "higher state" is intended to mean. I am not belittling you. This is a fully serious question.

If you mean the bliss-zap induced love stupors I used to experience in SY, then I can address that.

I for one am not looking for that anymore. Yeah, I went from ultrasweet bliss-zap induced highs and also crashed into frustratingly unblissful lows over not being in bliss-high all the time.

Since having quit SY and my quest for eternally blissed out unity consciousness, I've noticed a few things about myself:

1. Yeah, I may well be a total grouch (which is what I think spurred your spikingly cutting comment in the first place), but you know what? I don't experience the peaks and crashes I used to experience regularly during SY.

2. I'm also generally far more peaceful and satisfied with myself and my life since quitting. I truly do not miss the constant search to recreate the bliss haze anymore. I recognize that the shakti was a DRUG. Not a biochemical one, at least not from an external chemical source. But the impact was the same. I was a shakti addict. My state is typically much more even. Often grouchy and complaining, granted, but generally, much more even. This describes the emotional state.

3. My mental state is far more well-reasoned. I don't hear things and believe them automatically anymore just because GM or somebody else from Siddha Yoga told me I should. I think things through better. And I'm much more focused on moment-to-moment awareness of the "right now" than I ever was during my time in SY.

So, since you took a swipe about my "state" and how ONLY the SY practices could get me into a "higher state" (which I truly do hope you'll have the kindness to define for me), I guess I need to ask you: Was taking that swipe at us something that emerged, that crystallized into the stream of your consciousness of things you should do today, from a "higher state"? Or, was it just an annoyed, mean-spirited swipe?

Maybe I totally misunderstood your comment and if so, I do sincerely apologize to you. But in reading your comment at face value, I have to ask you: How is YOUR state today? And are you practicing dharmic loving kindness and ahimsa?

Sincerely requesting you stop and consider the height or depth of your own state first before assuming to know how high or low ours is!

SeekHer said...

"Anonymous said...
Someone said "Peace unto you and you. So I assume the only way you guys got into a higher state was with the practices?"

I would like to ask anon to clarify this comment so that we understand fully where they are coming from. This would be more helpful to the group than making assumptions (tempting though that may be at times!)

That said, I do appreciate the last comment addressing this, because it opens a great discussion about what exactly is and is not a "higher state" pre and post SY and otherwise. Stuart--would love your take in particular.

Anonymous said...

From
December 3, 2007 12:40 PM

My money's on betting that it's NOT gonna be her, it simply means they're going to change the focus from the same "Kundalini Shakti" focus they've had since 2004 to, officially, something else (finally).

***

My reply: no chance, the focus of the new correspondence course is learning to see the Kundalini Shakti in your everyday life.

Last year the focus was on reading all of GM's former New Year talks with the support of a workbook specially designed to do so.

I'm betting that they're going to unwrap some new SY product like a book of SOME but not ALL of GM's remaining New Year Talks (note the new, blue theme color of the invite... looks just like the theme art for the last Sadhana of the Heart book) along with the suggestion of a guided meditation and a syllabus for study. Plus they'll have to market the new correspondence course on the old theme as well.

Or they could "sweetly surprise" the devotees with a second chance to study the New Year Messages in the first Sadhana of the Heart book all over again with a new workbook guide, then repeat *that* for a third year, after which they will encourage devotees to study another crop of old NY messages with another study notebook, and another correspondence course, and another set of high priced Intensives...

Same old same old.

***

If GM actually shows up and talks, I'll be quite surprised, to say the least.

***

This is definitely the hype, and her "maybe I will and maybe I won't" is standard, SY come hither marketing strategy. GM/SYDA's been doing this for years.

I would be offended if I hadn't passed this way a hundred times before.

Anonymous said...

"If GM actually shows up and talks, I'll be quite surprised, to say the least. This is definitely the hype, and her "maybe I will and maybe I won't" is standard, SY come hither marketing strategy. GM/SYDA's been doing this for years."

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

Agreed. But while "maybe I will and maybe I won't" worked quite well when the expectation was that Gurumayi was at least on the same continent, I don't have as much faith in it working well now. Here's the rub. Gurumayi can't just show up once without explanation, only to retire again to Ibiza for a few more years. It would raise too many questions among the devotees who are still active. She either has to come back with a bang and stay back, or present a reasonable explanation for her repeated vanishing act. Maybe like Sai Baba she can say she is only materializing on this realm for a short time.

Unless! Unless she makes the audio broadcast from wherever she is hiding. You know, an oh so mysterioso voice from the past. You can't see me but I am with you always. That would maintain the illusion of her involvement for tax, dakshina and devotee purposes for at least a few more years, and she wouldn't even have to leave her backyard.

Can't wait to see what happens! Won't be paying $100 to be the first to know, though!

Anonymous said...

Stuart! You seem so offended. It is sad to hear you and perhaps some of your friends are in a constant battle against the invisible forces the shakti has assembled to ruin your life. My point was you can be in a higher state without the Guru, without the practices, through simple contemplation. I do not know, you may be in that state right now! I do not define you by you saying I am attacking you. I know the blissed out state of which you speak and to be honest that is not IT, you are right. I am not saying I know IT and IT all, but knowlegde is superior to bliss wonder. The "wonder" of the blissed out state is not the same as "Knowledge". So my motive here is that no one should give up on knowledge, nothing more. Have a good day you all.

Anonymous said...

Stuart I have a good link for you, I hope it works, you have to get through the graphic first 6 minutes to see what it is about.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=5547481422995115331&hl=en-GB

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add a 4th item to the list of 3 things I don't experience so much since quitting SY (yes I'm the person who posted earlier about questioning what "higher state" is supposed to mean).

So, here it is:

4. I also don't miss the constant feeling that if I just did more practices, just was a better devotee, did more seva, contemplated deeper and more often, read more of the Guru's books, chanted more, did more swadhyaya, meditated deeper, longer and more often, everything everything everything to be the PERFECT devotee, then and ONLY then would I "break through" and "get it".

The constant underlying internal voice in my mind, unquestionably picked up through my involvement with Siddha Yoga, that said:

"You're not good enough. You're not doing enough. You're not practicing enough."

Etc., etc., etc.

Striving to perfect oneself a little more each day, everyday, in all areas of one's life, is not a bad thing. It's a noble thing. The world would be truly better if EVERYBODY in the world applied this in their daily lives.

Provided, that it was done with a healthy attitude, a healthy set of inner motivators, a healthy perspective that it was a journey, not an achievable state.

The problem was, in the Siddha Yoga environment, what that constant inner push to be the perfect devotee often meant was that in the person's deep inner core, they felt bad, they felt like a failure, they felt small and weak and useless and...that push to be the perfect devotee, when a person could not accomplish all they set out wanting to accomplish, often turned into deep self-hatred, self-loathing, self-criticism, and a deep smoldering anger if not abject depression and sadness.

Not to mention that in the industrialized, technology-driven world, modern life generally doesn't allow the time at all for doing everything the perfect devotee would supposedly do.

Which then becomes a setup for the failure I just discussed and its common results. Game over. Deck utterly stacked against the perfect devotee as simple consequence of modern life's logistics.

It can become a bottomless pit out of which one cannot escape as long as the SY belief system is held on to.

What gives me the place to say this?

Not to sound trite, but "my experience". In myself, and in my spouse.

I totally quit SY nearly 3 years ago. And many of the mood swings, self-hatreds, feelings like I was never good enough or did enough I used to experience while in SY eventually, went away over time, as I found other means to process out of myself what I'd taken in during a quarter-century in SY.

My spouse, on the other hand, is still a firmly committed devotee despite also knowing the two victims of SY I mentioned knowing in a previous comment in the "Pennies" thread.

And I watch my spouse continuing to move through the same deep downs and high high mood swings, never feeling good enough or that they do enough, and self-flagellation and self-hatred, that I myself used to engage in while still in SY.

And all I can feel is sadness at what my spouse goes through as a result of the SY indoctrination...and hope, and prayer, that someday, the light bulb will finally go off over my spouse's head and I can enjoy our relationship as free beings again someday.

Until that time, I just keep on keepin' on, doing my best to trudge forward every day.

But to address my original point: No, I don't miss the "higher state" of self-hatred over feeling utterly insufficient to be the perfect devotee, nor the mood swings, nor the depression over "separation from bliss".

Nowadays I look for that bliss in the smile and laughter of a child, in seeing a dragonfly lighting on a lilypad, on hearing songbirds bring their music to my morning, on the miracle of seeing a bright blue sky and the golden sun and feeling its warmth on my skin. Days in this human life grow short, and I am blessed when I can appreciate just simply being here one more day.

In retrospect, to wrap this up, in feeling the changes in myself as I let Siddha Yoga go, and in witnessing within myself how my "state" got more positive (if not "higher"), and in observing the highs and crashes, the self-hatred, the unexpressed, pushed-down anger, the depression that my spouse goes through, I suppose all I can say is, based on these observations is this: Siddha Yoga is NOT a healthy thing to be engaged in. I applaud the motivation to deepen one's spiritual maturity and connection with whatever we hold divine, but I don't think Siddha Yoga is a healthy way to fulfill that motivation. At least, I don't think that any longer.

SeekHer said...

SeekHer said

"That said, I do appreciate the last comment addressing this, because it opens a great discussion about what exactly is and is not a "higher state" pre and post SY and otherwise. Stuart--would love your take in particular."

Anon said:

"Stuart! You seem so offended. It is sad to hear you and perhaps some of your friends are in a constant battle against the invisible forces the shakti has assembled to ruin your life."

------------------------
I apologize for creating a misunderstanding. Stuart did not post the comment I was addressing. I was simply seeking his opinion, as well as the opinion of all other readers here re: the nature of a "high state". Sorry to drag you in to a battle that is not yours, Stuart! Hope there is not a battle at all, but rather a reasoned discussion of how we as SY practitioners, past and present, define and value our states of consciousness, as indeed the original commenter did, and posting again to clarify even further.

As for invisible forces the shakti has assembled to ruin someone's life, wow. That came out of nowhere! Let's allow it to be absorbed back into that place, yes?

Anonymous said...

Sorry here it is in tiny so you do not have to deal with double copy/paste.

http://tinyurl.com/238f5k

SeekHer said...

"Anonymous said...
I have a good link for you, I hope it works, you have to get through the graphic first 6 minutes to see what it is about."

I tried and couldn't get past those graphically violent first 6 minutes. Can you tell us what it is about?

Anonymous said...

Hi SeekHer,

Thought I'd answer your call to address what we feel or think is the nature of a "high state" and how to value states of consciousness.

Discussion of transitory blissful states seems to have triggered this discussion. At least that is what appears to me to be so. Well in SY I certainly did enjoy those states, which could occur while chanting or meditating especially. And strange (or maybe not so strange to relate) these continue into my current Christian path. But we are encouraged to see them as "consolations of the Holy Spirit," and not central to our journey certainly. I thought one poster made an important point that it IS the journey, and not to be concerned with perfection (whatever that consists of.) We are to remain confident that no matter what our state is, God loves and accepts us as we are. And in gratitude keep God central in our lives and serve others with the same gratitude.

Peace and Love

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

On service in the Christian path, the first poster in this section certainly sounds a warning signal for all those that wish to serve to be aware of personal needs and know when to pull back before going off a precipice and crashing and burning. I am surprised that they didn't have people that advised them (all those in ordained ministry are supposed to have spiritual directors, even if themselves spiritual directors!) did not sound warning bells.

Of course Gurus by definition don't have anyone to do this for them.

Epi

Anonymous said...

"Wow. OK, they've baited the hook. Who will still bite?

The obvious marketing strategy is to make everybody start gossiping about whether the "sweet surprise" means GM's actually gonna show up and put in a day's work for the first time in, what is it now???"

Its a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff--that is, the hard core faithful who will show up, vs those who are unwilling to be teased and who will not show up and, at most, prefer to watch a TV broadcast or purchase a video of the event.

Its lots simple to do things that identify the hard core faithful because that winnows the group down to smaller more manageable number--and their loyalty is assured.

Even an absent guru can still be a receptacle for one's projections--energy which, if reclaimed, would be recognized as the best of oneself--not as the property of some guru.

3rdeyeopen said...

I used to go to the NY's eve chant. Last New Year's eve I stayed with my artist community and participated in a fun dance number for the performance art part of the evening. On NY's mornings I enjoy going to the guru gita (gg). I decided not to go to the satsang after the gg but to hang out with another group of artists right in my neighborhood.
The gg was empty. I enjoyed the gg and felt so glad just to arrive and not do any seva. I saw my aunt there. After the gg she did her usual dismissive thing so I ate in another part of the dining hall by MYSELF. I am and was never in any inner core groups. I call my center the Land of Small Talk, if I sincerely answered how I was doing I'd get dismissed. I saw all the mean spirited sevites (to me) coming for the program and others who wore their million dollar saris to listen to an audio broadcast. I had mentioned to my aunt about a book I was working on, I had put it away for a while and then took it out again and mentioned to her that sometimes it's good to re-review things, they become fresh again. Anyway, that was the "message" for 2006, to review the past messages. I had already vibed it. So glad I did not stay and saw my real friends that day.

I do author visits around the city and I did one last week in my old High School. As I waited on the elevated subway station I could see my childhood apt building (a inner city tenament) and someone has graffitied the wall with the tag SEVA. It was weird how it was painted in a place that seemed impossible to reach.

I think it's simple, see everything as connected.
All the rest is just more layers.

ps the "shakti" is not outside of us, it is EVERYTHING that exists. Let's move away from using that term as an excuse (it was the shakti that did it) or as something magical, yes earth is pretty magical and shitty at the same time. The shit part is also the shakti.

Peace.

ps if you are reading this gm. Holla girlfriend!

Anonymous said...

Actually I just watched the whole video I suggested and it is a hell of a "good" 911 conspiracy video. I was tricked by the beginning. A friend said it was good but said no more about it. If you don't feel like freaking your socks off don't watch it.

Anonymous said...

"Even an absent guru can still be a receptacle for one's projections--energy which, if reclaimed, would be recognized as the best of oneself--not as the property of some guru."

December 3, 2007 8:36 PM

Thanks.

SeekHer said...

"Actually I just watched the whole video I suggested and it is a hell of a "good" 911 conspiracy video. I was tricked by the beginning. A friend said it was good but said no more about it. If you don't feel like freaking your socks off don't watch it."

Friend. People tend to take everything posted here to heart, as many are investigating alternate viewpoints from our own regarding Siddha Yoga. Please make an effort to screen the material you post here for relevance to the ongoing discussion. I would suggest that watching the entirety of a video you link to here is the minimum effort required.

(PS love a good 911 conspiracy theory myself, but gotta keep things on-topic here!)

Anonymous said...

SeekHer, great post, very clear... I guess I'm digesting it and the comments also.
Love to you all (love that blog!)

Pp

Anonymous said...

Upcoming potential program with Gurumayi, A Sweet Surprise!"

If SY really had the courage of it's convinctions this would be a FREE program and they would raise tons more money from the outpouring. So inept at fundraising today. They should defintely not be broke. Just do not know how to cultivate donors.

Asking for $100 dollars for:

Pod cast? That's steep

Everything they got you can get for FREE now.

So why should we pay for the cow when we can get the milk for FREE?

Everything being charged for is available completely for FREE.

Offer something. Maybe gift bags at least. Could all be donated FREE merchandise.

Not good fundraisers.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous quoting material from Dan Shaw

"experiencing oneself as a center of agency and initiative, as a creative person capable of taking pleasure in the use of one's own talents and skills, should be a source of shame—because nothing belongs to oneself; it all belongs to and comes from the guru. On the other hand, one must always be ready to confess and take credit for one's sins and transgressions—which in this system, are the sole property of the follower and his small, impure, selfish ego. The cult leader depends on maintaining the smallness, guilt, and shame of her followers as an essential means of sustaining her own delusion of impeccable perfection. "

December 3, 2007 11:31 AM

Putting this on a piece of paper next to my bed. To read first and last thing. Must exorcise this energy once and for all. The symbol mind you, no harm to the human being behind the crazy mask. May she find personal agency also, just not on the backs of others.

Anonymous said...

Hi Episcopalian.

I was the one who posted about the three Christian clergy who abruptly disappeared and didnt have the energy or perhaps the interpersonal skills to arrange and then oversee a termination/farewell process--or to refer those in their care to other counselers.

Yes, they should have had spiritual directors of thier own. Ironically one of these three persons was a famous spiritual director who overworked himself into a pit--and then fled.

When you're a charmismatic and famous spiritual director you bring renown to your religious community - and then it is very hard to find anyone who stands up to you and reminds you of self care. Problem with ministry is the work is never done. Its up to the minister to say 'Enough for today, time for vespers', but all too often many ministers are driven by personal wounds and escape into work addiction--which is rewarded by the culture.

Another person I knew who was a renowned spiritual director who later got into trouble did have a spiriutal director of his own. But (and I had inside info on this) what he had done was select a spiriutal director who admired him and who was a member of his fan club--a spiritual director who told him what he wanted to hear rather than what he needed to hear.

(Sad smile)

Librarian/Zennie

Anonymous said...

Someone said about their SY center, which they dubbed "The Land of Small Talk", the following: "if I sincerely answered how I was doing I'd get dismissed."

Which leads me to Item # 5 of things I don't miss about Siddha Yoga: The inauthenticity.

I now love being able to smile only when I feel like smiling. I love having the freedom to express being angry or sad when I feel those emotions.

I do NOT miss having to put on a fake smiley face when inside I was either crying or seething but had to hide it.

Hide it because, as most of us experienced, expressions of negativity are just not well tolerated within the bounds of "Siddha Yoga Philosophy and Culture".

No longer having to wear a mask of positivity ALL the time I was with fellow devotees, I can simply express my emotions (within the bounds of reasonable adult behavior, still, of course) for what they are, when I experience them (when it's appropriate to do so socially, that is), and then, having expressed them, let'em pass and evaporate.

I feel just so much more free to express ME more openly.

And it feels just a whole lot more balanced. At least, it does to me.

So, on balance, well, lessee: More even-out moods, more attentive thinking and willingness to challenge what I hear or read, greater self-esteem and no longer thinking I'm never good enough, greater self-satisfaction, and more authentic expression of self...yeah, I've got to say that on balance, for me leaving Siddha Yoga was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, and I'm grateful to both myself and to whatever divine force it might have been that led me to it.

Stuart said...

Anonymous (12/3 2:05) said...
So I assume the only way you guys got into a higher state was with the practices?

People who are used to talking in real life sometimes don't understand how forums like this work. It's not like you're talking to 2 or 3 or 5 people in real life, all chatting in the same room.

Here, we're at least dozens of people, all in different places, all with different perspectives and experiences and situations.

So when you, anony, address "you guys," who are you talking to? There must have been something specifically you read that caught your attention; it must have been said by a particular person in a particular context.

If you'd be a bit clearer about who and what you're responding to, and why, it'd make for some coherent conversation, whereas a vague sentence, out of context, addressed at "you guys," doesn't.

I'll echo what a different reader wrote, in saying that I don't understand your use of the term "higher state." Who's opinion are you referring to when you decide some state is "higher"?

I imagine you've got some ideas or opinions that make you label some state as "higher" than another. Why do that?

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Stuart said...

SeekHer said...
Hope there is not a battle at all, but rather a reasoned discussion of how we as SY practitioners, past and present, define and value our states of consciousness

Hi, SeekHer. My comment of minutes ago was in response to reading that original "higher states" post. Now that I see you frame the question so clearly, let me just try to offer my perspective as simply as I can.

Right now, I'm sitting at a desk, typing a comment on a laptop. This situation, like it or not, is precisely how it is. It is, for better or worse, exactly what I've got. The mind-state I have in this moment is the only one I've got to work with, so it's the important one.

I'm not so interesting in imagining past mind-states or fantasizing about future ones, and judging one against another to make "higher" and "lower." Each moment, meaning THIS moment, I've got a mind-state, whatever it is, and a situation, whatever it is.

My only interest is in using whatever I've got to see clearly, which means trying to understand myself and help others. I don't find that ideas about "higher" and "lower" are always so necessary or useful in this process.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Stuart said...

I tell you, if we forget about truth and morality and all that, this whole "Sweet Surprises" thing works so bloody great as pure drama.

Just imagine how awful if it all turns out that this is just a teaser. Like a bar spreading a rumor that the Rolling Stones will the special mystery guest that evening, but it's all just a cynical PR ploy to pack the place with paying customers.

Just imagine if this obvious attempt to suggest that Gurumayi will personally appear is just a way to separate masses of desperate iPod-packing devotees from their Benjamins.

I can't believe it. I can't bet on the SYDA management pulling something so ugly. We'll see. When Gurumayi sent out goons to disrupt Nityananda's satsangs... I sure didn't see that one coming either. No one ever went broke underestimating the ethics of SYDA.

So there's got to be something. My prediction: a short speech from Gurumayi herself. Perhaps audio-only, while the camera focuses on an old picture. *Maybe* on video, but I'd bet against that, since by now she may well have given up her once carefully-constructed guru look.

After this little speech about whatever, probably about finding the guru within or whatever, Gurumayi again dissolves into her hidden life, maybe enjoying herself in a compound in Mill Valley, maybe brief quick trips to South Fallsburg or Ganeshpuri to rally the troops and suck up the devotion.

You can't put the toothpasted back in the tube. Gurumayi can't go back to playing the old game; from the outside, she by now sees how artificial it was. She's being hounded by the management to not let the whole Foundation sink into the ocean, all it'll take is a little waving from the balcony, and the masses of peasants will be energized to march on, for a few more years anyway.

That's my prediction, and I'm sticking to it.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

SeekHer said...

"My prediction: a short speech from Gurumayi herself. Perhaps audio-only, while the camera focuses on an old picture. "

The way I see it there are two possible outcomes.

1. As the harmonium fades and the introductory chants hang in the air there is a pregnant pause lasting just a beat longer than is comfortable. And then. That voice. "With great respect, with great love, I welcome you all with all my heart." Gurumayi phones in a new message from the seaside resort in Goa where she's waiting out the winter.

2. As the harmonium fades and the introductory chants hang in the air there is a pregnant pause lasting just a beat longer than is comfortable. And then. That other voice. Swami Vasudevananda's voice.

"It is my great honor and true joy to announce that Gurumayi has given the Siddha Yoga sangham a new message to contemplate throughout 2008! And she has asked me to read it to you all today:"

The Siddha Yoga message for 2008 is......

"As above, so below,
As without, so within,
Stop worrying where I'm hiding out,
And sign up to study this latest spin!"

Anonymous said...

Somebody said, and I forgot who it was (oops): "My prediction: a short speech from Gurumayi herself. Perhaps audio-only, while the camera focuses on an old picture. *Maybe* on video, but I'd bet against that, since by now she may well have given up her once carefully-constructed guru look."

Actually, it is going to be an audio satsang isn't it?

As for the "carefully-constructed guru look", why don't you ask the people who live in SMA? Gurumayi still makes appearances there. Also, there are a few new photos of her on sale in the SY bookstores. She just looks older with some gray in her hair. She doesn't look at stunning now.

The same thing happened to the well-respected guru, Anandamayi Ma. She was stunning, and had thousands (if not millions) of people following her around. She got older, and lost her beautiful looks. She also retreated from her disciples and led a quiet life later on, in order to make them turn within rather than focus on the outer guru too much.

Anonymous said...

"She got older, and lost her beautiful looks. She also retreated from her disciples and led a quiet life later on, in order to make them turn within rather than focus on the outer guru too much."

December 5, 2007 3:30 AM

Dear Anonymous,

You paint a sweet picture of retirement. Certainly everyone is allowed to wend there way where they need to to live and make their contribution in whatever way they can. It is quite tender to think of GM losing her looks, kind of like a Greta Garbo thing.

However if the Pope suddently took off from being pope and went into retirement, don't you think there would be a few grumblings? That is an out of scale comparison, but maybe you get the idea.

GM was a major figure in folks lives. It's cheating to run out on that as a person. Not fair to say read the books, as she didn't write them it turns out.

So what we have is a whole lot a love, for someone who doesn't love us back enough to make a sincere forthright statement.

GM doesn't have that much time left to get right with herself. That first trumpet is about to blow.

Anonymous said...

"The same thing happened to the well-respected guru, Anandamayi Ma. She was stunning, and had thousands (if not millions) of people following her around. She got older, and lost her beautiful looks. She also retreated from her disciples and led a quiet life later on, in order to make them turn within rather than focus on the outer guru too much."<<

Oy Gevalt! gurumayi and Anandamoyi Ma in the same paragraph! Look carefully at the photos of Anandamoyi Ma, anonymous,and you will see that she never "lost her beautiful looks". Instead, she is proof of the old adage that by the time you reach your mid-40s, the life you have led and the kind of person you have become is written all over your face. Comparing gurumayi to such a person as Anandamoyi Ma only makes gurumayi's failings...as a guru, a teacher and a "realized being" all the more obvious, imho. It does seem to be a common way of "elevating" questionable teachers and gurus, though...comparing them to Ramana Maharshi or Anandamoyi Ma or anyone else who appears to have impeccable spiritual "credentials" and thus "explaining" the bizarre actions of the questionable teachers. I notice that muktananda did the same thing ...putting the "responsibility" for his actions on Nityananda Bhagavan's shoulders by saying..."everything I do, I do at the command of my guru Nityananda"..Since Bhagavan had left his body, who could say, "hey, wait a minute muktananda! who says Nityananda gave YOU a 'lineage'" or "hey, wait a minute muktananda! who says Nityananda told you to take 'siddha yoga' to the West!"There was pretty much universal respect for Nityananda in India at the time of his death(and that respect continues to this day)... muktananda had an immediate "authenticity by association". You can see the same principle operating in current "spiritual circles"..many, many people of all levels of spiritual "weirdness" claim direct "lineage" from Nityananda (although their formal initiation invariably occured in a dream). In Neo Advaita circles, it's common to have a photograph of Ramana Maharshi on the table near the "guru/teacher"'s chair to lend a little "gravitas" . Everyone, from Gangaji to Andrew Cohen claims Ramana Marharshi as a "guru"...poor Ramana! he must be having a hard time keeping a straight face up in 'siddha loka'! In view of this "spiritual piggybacking" tendency , I personally would like to express grave reservations about any comparisons between the actions of gurumayi and AnandaMoyi Ma.

an anonymous admirer of Anandamoyi Ma

Anonymous said...

“It does seem to be a common way of "elevating" questionable teachers and gurus, though...comparing them to Ramana Maharshi or Anandamoyi Ma or anyone else who appears to have impeccable spiritual
"credentials" and thus "explaining" the bizarre actions of the questionable teachers.”

“You can see the same principle operating in current "spiritual circles"..many, many people of all levels of spiritual "weirdness" claim direct "lineage" from Nityananda (although their formal initiation invariably occured in a dream).

'In Neo Advaita circles, it's common to have a photograph of Ramana Maharshi on the table near the "guru/teacher"'s chair to lend a little "gravitas" .

Everyone, from Gangaji to Andrew Cohen claims Ramana Marharshi as a "guru"...poor Ramana!”

To an amazing degree the spiritual scene resembles the entertainment industry--famous persons are constantly being sought out by those who want to become famous and seek fame by associating with those who already have 'it'.

This process of 'legitmation' or 'manufactured trustworthiness' is very important.

By itself an authentic spiritual lineage doesn’t by itself guarantee that a guru will remain authentic. Some with genuine lineages have misbehaved.

But a way where lineage does matter is that it gives us one way to test a prospective guru's character. And...yes, it is up to a guru to see if someone is suitable for discipleship but it is just as important for the seeker to test the guru--both have to be adults here.

One important way to test a teacher’s character is to examine his or her truthfulness in ordinary matters.

And…a good way to do that is to fact check any and all lineage claims. Anyone who lies about lineage will probably generate trouble in other areas too.

Its very interesting to look at this issue in Luna Tarlo’s Memoir, 'The Mother of God'. She is the mother of Andrew Cohen, referred to above. A

ccording to Luna Tarlo, the guru who supposedly conferred enlightenment on Cohen and then (after just 3 weeks) told Andrew to go out and create ‘a revolution amongst the young’, was a fellow named Poonja. (His devotees call him Poonjaji or Papaji)

Poonja claimed to be in the lineage of Ramana Maharshi. Later, in the process of freeing herself from her son's influence, one of Tarlo's friends met a professor who was well informed concerning Indian spirituality. Dr. Moorty told her that Maharshi never appointed a formal successor and could never have been said to have a lineage.

(pp 252 to 252 of 'The Mother of God, by Luna Tarlo)

To add to the mess, Poonja and Cohen later parted company. Poonja claimed in an interview that he had never conferred enlightenment on anyone.

Cohen currently associates with Ken Wilber. The important role Poonja played in launching Cohen's early career is now downplayed--Wilber's ideology is the mean feature of Cohen's doctrine these days.

An article on legitimation with material about Poonja can be read here

http://www.shiningworld.com/Home%20Page%20Links/The%20Horses%20Mouth.html

Anonymous said...

Remember that comment a few threads back about the beliefs we adopted in SY and later, realizing they may not really be true, decided to drop? I think the example quoted at the time was the whole business about not blowing out the puja candles, etc.

Well, someone just commented "poor Ramana! he must be having a hard time keeping a straight face up in 'siddha loka'!"

Well, this is yet another one of those beliefs we picked up in SY.

Who says there's a Siddha Loka?
Muk, in Play of Consciousness.

Who wrote play of Consciousness?
Muk, but with a lot of help from Amma (Swami Prajnananda, not Ammachi).

If the "lineage" from Nityananda is in doubt, then why aren't the "experiences" Muktananda wrote about in POC also in doubt?

This comes back to the point about "I believe it because GM or somebody else in SY told me to" that was made a week or two ago.

Why do we assume there even IS a Siddha Loka? On what basis? Just because Muk wrote about it in his book? How do we know that his experiences were authentic and actually happened? How do we know that even if they did, they can be universally applied to everyone?

Simply pointing this out to highlight just how many beliefs, assumptions, and convictions we picked up during our time in Siddha Yoga...and whether we probed and examined these in detail to sufficiently draw a well-grounded conclusion to believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

>>>"Well, someone just commented "poor Ramana! he must be having a hard time keeping a straight face up in 'siddha loka'!"<<<

Uh, that was supposed to be a joke, thus the quotation marks.
anonymous

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Look carefully at the photos of Anandamoyi Ma, anonymous,and you will see that she never "lost her beautiful looks"."

I beg to differ. Check out this picture of her. http://www.anandamayi.org/photos/Masc47.JPG
You would hardly call this beautiful. -- Maybe beautiful on the inside, but not on the outside.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Look carefully at the photos of Anandamoyi Ma, anonymous,and you will see that she never "lost her beautiful looks"."

"I beg to differ. Check out this picture of her. http://www.anandamayi.org/photos/Masc47.JPG
You would hardly call this beautiful. -- Maybe beautiful on the inside, but not on the outside."

December 5, 2007 11:11 PM

This thread on women's aging and beauty is very interesting. Chidvilas when at her height glittered with incredibel inner and outer beauty. Wow. Remember? GM must have had to dissociate during this overwhelming outpouring of love.

Now the beautiful charismatic women are all aging. Meg, Sharon, Melanie, Olivia, Gurumayi. Some risk fixing the signs at their peril and end up on Bad Plastic Surgery websites. Sad isn't it? To treat the devi so when whe is old. She is used to it. Kali and withches they become and they get their payback.

Yes, if SY stays superficial, GM the icon will have to stay hidden, but not if the person who was our guru is allowed to have a real life and one away from SY and one doing good things for people which she DOES know how to do.

Advice: Don't forget to wear your sunscreen. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Quote: "if the person who was our guru is allowed to have a real life and one away from SY and one doing good things for people which she DOES know how to do."

Questions: She DOES? REALLY???
Such as??? Can you provide some examples you know of, of "doing good things for people?" Are you referring to PRASAD's or Muktabodha's activities? Or, direct acts of personal kindness she's done for other people?

Specific examples would be extremely helpful here.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, some of the loveliest faces I see are the 70 to 90 year old people in Chinatown.

They're from the old country, and were not socialized to cling to youth and beauty. They were raised in the older Chinese culture that honored seniority.

As a result, many of them have skin lesions that would send most young and middle aged Americans screaming to a dermatologist.

Yet...these men and women are so obviously at ease in their bodies, faces wrinkled and sometimes with blotches and large moles--they are as lovely as ancient trees.

There's a man in his seventies at our Zen Center. Huge, old, hunched over. But the youngest most curious pair of eyes gazing out and humor is there.

He watches his physical self breaking down an once said, 'My body amuses me' as if speaking of a friend's joke.

A huge old oak tree with a baby owl.

Anonymous said...

>>"Anonymous said: "Look carefully at the photos of Anandamoyi Ma, anonymous,and you will see that she never "lost her beautiful looks"."

"I beg to differ. Check out this picture of her. http://www.anandamayi.org/photos/Masc47.JPG
You would hardly call this beautiful. -- Maybe beautiful on the inside, but not on the outside."

Well, anon., I guess it's a matter of what you consider "beautiful". I've already seen all the photos on her site and there were hundreds of them . I've never seen a "bad" photo of AnandaMoyi Ma..even after she lost all her teeth...her beauty just shines forth like a lightening bolt! If you had walked passed her on the street and looked over, she would have stopped you going further...her face, when she was old, was so much like Ramana Maharshi's face...and SO beautiful. As she got older, what was "unnecessary" was stripped away and what was revealed was the amazing luminosity inherent in all human beings. And it's not just "inner beauty", imho; The outer is a reflection of the inner... To me, for example, Shree Maa (snaggly teeth and all)is alot more "beautiful" than "Posh Spice", who appears to have been built on a "beauty assembly line". As another poster remarked, it's "sad" to treat Devi as some kind of plastic porn star... tiny skinny 12 year old body with big plastic boobs, puffed up "trout lips", wrinkle-free...just like a load of laundry! As a woman (and someone who has been considered "beautiful" by cultural standards here...just so you know it's not "sour grapes"), I find it incredibly sad to watch women like Dianne Keaton, who could have been inspiring and intelligent examples of "how to age gracefully as real human beings" turn into overly made-up, surgically enchanced bimbos.
Sometimes, we can become our own worst enemies, internalizing all of the cultural standards until they destroy us. very sad.

anonymous fan of AnandaMoyi Ma

Anonymous said...

Re; "Dianne Keaton, who could have been inspiring and intelligent examples of "how to age gracefully as real human beings" turn into overly made-up, surgically enchanced bimbos. Sometimes, we can become our own worst enemies, internalizing all of the cultural standards until they destroy us. very sad."

anonymous fan of AnandaMoyi Ma

December 6, 2007 10:39 AM

I get your point and agree, but as an example I think Diana Keaton looks great. She is still getting major film work at 61 as also Sally Field who is the same age. She looks better than she ever did at any age. They are major motion picture actresses with a reason to do this. For the rest, it surely must be an unfortunate completely elusive obsession. Yet it is an emerging trend everywhere.

We did love our GM for her beauty no question. Her most recent photo was so comical. I always thought she posted challenging photos. tly. The photos took us to new places in contemplation. Of a different look, with different meaning. They eyes expressive and carrying shaktipat. The photos all seem quite sad now and questioning rather than full of conviction. How is the person behind those staged and uninformative photos?

Anonymous said...

>>>"We did love our GM for her beauty no question"<<

Hi again,
this is the AnandaMoyi Ma fan writing....you know, I have to disagree with you here. I didn't love gm for her beauty at all..mainly because the culture of "beauty" that she created around herself (meaning her darshan girls and the arati "girls" at the temple) seemed so cruel and exclusionary...women seemed to be chosen for the way they might look in a sari rather than any qualities of kindness, compassion, inner awakeness or any other of the so-called "spiritual qualities". There was a standing rule in the temple when I was there that no unattractive (and especially no "older") women should be allowed to be the arati devi.The temple rules were based on the wishes of the highest authority in Fallsburg. There was a horrible "sorority girl" vibe around gurumayi that always troubled me and I wondered (when I was a devotee) whether that would have been the case if she had been a little less physically attractive..whether she would have stressed physical appearance less? hard to say, I guess.

anonyMa

Anonymous said...

Re: "There was a standing rule in the temple when I was there that no unattractive (and especially no "older") women should be allowed to be the arati devi."

I was observer of the SY scene for 25+ years and didn't witness exactly what you describe. I thought I saw the opposite. A varied group of devi's. Of course this probably waxed and waned like many things.

Whatever was happening, it created a sweet atmosphere for visitors. I was invigorated many times by a visit there.

Anonymous said...

Re:

"Hi again,
this is the AnandaMoyi Ma fan writing....you know, I have to disagree with you here. I didn't love gm for her beauty at all.."

You just weren't a gopi for her then. How could anyone be so beautiful was a question Meg asked in song many times. Once I heard GM say at the end of satsang in the cave in GSP, do you want Meg to make you cry again? Of course we begged for it. She sang her song to a slide show of GM and we cried our eyes out. Felt wonderful.

I do not know what the hell to make of these emotions now, but they remind of the words at the end of the recent King Kong film, "It was Beauty killed the beast".

SeekHer said...

A coda to this post, for anyone still reading here. I'd prefer not to leave anyone with my initial impressions of the LSY group as final. In fact, that group has long evolved away from the kind of rancor I felt characterized it when I first began reading there years ago. It seems that the people who still post there have processed much of their hurt, feelings of betrayal, anger and grief and formed a sort of "post SY" community. I emphasize "post" because it is indeed still true that only those who identify as having left SY have their comments published there. But anyone who joins can read freely and if you are moved to do so, there are fascinating ongoing discussions there.

And if I can add a personal note of empathy with "C"--that group's much beleaguered (in these pages, at least) moderator.

I now understand how difficult it is to moderate a group, keeping it on topic, recognizing the trolls, keeping the voices balanced so that one doesn't drown out the rest of the chorus, all the while trying to please everyone. Which is impossible. Every moderator has to set up his or her own rules to keep the discourse orderly and safe. Mine may be different from those that govern LSY but each have been set in place for many good reasons. So, if you comment here or post there and your piece isn't published to the larger group, please don't take it personally. Your comment may be perfectly legitimate, except that the moderator feels it's likely to touch off a flame war, or it continues a disputatious thread that has already had its last words published by all sides, or it's simply off topic as the moderator defines it.

Here at ROD, I sometimes receive messages that seem to be personally addressed to SeekHer rather than the group at large. In any case, in EVERY case, know that your comment was received with respect, carefully read and deliberated on at least by the group's moderator.

I'm glad there are several places where this community can go to express all the shades of opinion ranging from support of SY to outright condemnation. I wish there were more.

Anonymous said...

This and other articles compelled me to read link after link about Syda Yoga. I am in the "I still love Gurumayi" camp. Yet I do feel left out or perhaps disappointed by the outcome. Interesting how 67% thought the message of a Sweet Suprise was NOT going to be her and it was her.
Anyway, I would still love to see her again but I am grateful for other things now. A partner, and the teachings of Abraham both of which bring me joy

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laurie said...

The Guru is within each of us. The Guru is the true divinity. Gurumayi has said "I am always with you." it is my experience that indeed, She is. I am not referring to the "personal" Guru, but the all encompassing Guru. Though she has moved back and away from the public eye, "She" is ever present in our hearts. This is where we must look for her.

After all that Gurumayi has given us, this is the one most important gift of all. We must find the true Guru in our hearts, and endeavor to live there. The practices are means to help us to do just that.

To stay focused on this Truth, one can find equainimity. To continually focus on the external world and demand that it live up to our expectations of godliness is a useless battle. And it will wear you out. This is the world of the mind. This is not the world of the Heart.

I agree it is important to be open and honest. But please have some faith in Truth. Goodness. Love and Respect.

Mayuri said...

The Guru is within each of us. The Guru is the true divinity. Gurumayi has said "I am always with you." it is my experience that indeed, She is. I am not referring to the "personal" Guru, but the all encompassing Guru. Though she has moved back and away from the public eye, "She" is ever present in our hearts. This is where we must look for her.

After all that Gurumayi has given us, this is the one most important gift of all. We must find the true Guru in our hearts, and endeavor to live there. The practices are means to help us to do just that.

To stay focused on this Truth, one can find equainimity. To continually focus on the external world and demand that it live up to our expectations of godliness is a useless battle. And it will wear you out. This is the world of the mind. This is not the world of the Heart.

I agree it is important to be open and honest. But please have some faith in Truth. Goodness. Love and Respect.

Mayuri said...

The Guru is within each of us. The Guru is the true divinity. Gurumayi has said "I am always with you." it is my experience that indeed, She is. I am not referring to the "personal" Guru, but the all encompassing Guru. Though she has moved back and away from the public eye, "She" is ever present in our hearts. This is where we must look for her.

After all that Gurumayi has given us, this is the one most important gift of all. We must find the true Guru in our hearts, and endeavor to live there. The practices are means to help us to do just that.

To stay focused on this Truth, one can find equainimity. To continually focus on the external world and demand that it live up to our expectations of godliness is a useless battle. And it will wear you out. This is the world of the mind. This is not the world of the Heart.

I agree it is important to be open and honest. But please have some faith in Truth. Goodness. Love and Respect.

María Calandria said...

I'd like to share with you all my own experience.

Om 1992 I had a great experience of Shaktipat during a SY Intensive in Santander, during a European SY retreat. I new nothing about yoga,kundalini, initiation...

I can just say SY changed my life for good, for very good. I'm very thankful for that. One of the reasons of that good experience, on my opinion, is because I was never "too much" involved in SY deals. I participated in the SY tour in Mexico in 1993 (great event in all senses), visited and do seva at both Ashrams (SF and GSP) I've been always been a very free person and dislike any kind of fanatical ideas. Anyway, I was a "home-devotee" most of the time.

There are always some fanatic people at the ashrams and yoga centers, and I’m talking about well known and “real ones” in the world. Someones talked and behaved like people in a cult, and said some crazy things in the name of the guru. I always kept in mind it was due to the misunderstanding of some personalities, hidingly interested in a cult system, maybe for feling “protected” themselves... from themselves. It’s not new.

From Siddha Yoga I’ve learned other things... Like "the Real Guru", is a principle within us, not just a person outside. the guru or master lives in our hearts... Baba Muktananda said: "don't look at me that way! Look within yourself! That's why I'm here, for you to see your own Self!"

I'll always appreciate the great teaching of the SYDA books and Gurumayi's talks. I keep in my memories and my heart that special relationship I've always have had with GM, since I met her in 1992. Now is just an inner experience, we all have the best teachings and can choose what we want to keep, thing or feel. It has been for me a question of trust and detachment. It has been a good deal.

I want to express all my gratefulness for the helping inner resources I got, thanks to GM and SY teachings and my own and sacred meditation experiences. When I got cancer, believe me, it made a great difference. Now I help others while I continue learning and helping myself.

I have easily accepted and respected what Gurumayi had decided for herself, her life and for SY path. She never promised me to be physically present. On 1992, few months after I met GM she sent me a message in a letter signed by Swami Kripananda. The letter says:
“Gurumayi wants you to remember that God loves you and the Guru will always be with you at every step of your life”..

It has been so... and it will be for the rest of my life.

Best regards and love to you all.

S.G.M.K.J.!
Sumati (M.C.)

María Calandria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
María Calandria said...

I'd like to share with you all my own experience.

Om 1992 I had a great experience of Shaktipat during a SY Intensive in Santander, during a European SY retreat. I knew nothing about yoga,kundalini, initiation...

I can just say SY changed my life and for good, for very good. I'm very thankful for that. One of the reasons of that good experience, on my opinion, is because I was never "too much" involved in SY deals. I participated in the SY tour in Mexico in 1993 (great event in all senses), visited and do seva at both Ashrams (SF and GSP) I've been always been a very free person and dislike any kind of fanatical ideas. Anyway, I was a "home-devotee" most of the time.

There are always some fanatic people at the ashrams and yoga centers, and I’m talking about well known and “real ones” in the world. Someones talked and behaved like people in a cult, and said some crazy things in the name of the guru. I always kept in mind it was due to the misunderstanding of some personalities, hidingly interested in a cult system, maybe for feling “protected” themselves... from themselves. It’s not new.

From Siddha Yoga I’ve learned other things... Like "the Real Guru", is a principle within us, not just a person outside. the guru or master lives in our hearts... Baba Muktananda said: "don't look at me that way! Look within yourself! That's why I'm here, for you to see your own Self!"

I'll always appreciate the great teaching of the SYDA books and Gurumayi's talks. I keep in my memories and my heart that special relationship I've always have had with GM, since I met her in 1992. Now is just an inner experience, we all have the best teachings and can choose what we want to keep, thing or feel. It has been for me a question of trust and detachment. It has been a good deal.

I want to express all my gratefulness for the helping inner resources I got, thanks to GM and SY teachings and my own and sacred meditation experiences. When I got cancer, believe me, it made a great difference. Now I help others while I continue learning and helping myself.

I have easily accepted and respected what Gurumayi had decided for herself, her life and for SY path. She never promised me to be physically present. On 1992, few months after I met GM she sent me a message in a letter signed by Swami Kripananda. The letter says:
“Gurumayi wants you to remember that God loves you and the Guru will always be with you at every step of your life”..

It has been so... and it will be for the rest of my life.

Best regards and love to you all.

S.G.M.K.J.!
Sumati (M.C.)

Anonymous said...

The clandestine actions of Swami Muktananda can never be excused or explained away by spiritual platitudes, although this is what many of his followers would offer, as a way to placate others, even to placate themselves -- especially those who continue to benefit materially or personally from their connections to his name.

For his followers, it can be hard to admit a mistake, that you gave your life to and followed a teacher who was not what you thought -- someone who was, in the end, just a human being. Muktananda was a person with great charisma. He was a wonderful storyteller. Probably above average intelligence. He was a clown, an entertainer, an actor, a politician. He knew things about you, because he knew things about himself.

He advised something that was impossible for most of his subjects and swamis, also unnatural: sexual abstinence, as a means to enlightenment. This became a big issue, much talked about. It was disingenuous and impossible for people, especially those in their sexual prime, to be thrown together, with the admonition to refrain in order to become great yogis. Ha. Even Muktananda couldn’t refrain.

We must stop applying divinity to mere humans.

Muktananda was HUMAN, with all the failings and weaknesses of being human. He abused his power in many ways. He abused it sexually. His protectors allude to tantra and other "spiritual reasons" for this. Only those who do not think for themselves would believe such crazy explanations. Weak people do not find out for themselves what is true. They follow the leader, like children, blind to their own culpability

As for beauty, the fact remains: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Ammachi, short fat little woman, attracts and holds people because a deep joy shines from within. She unselfishly gives and serves from a place of never-ending love. Her beauty radiates. Who or what she is, I am not saying, nor do I know; just saying: true beauty shines from within.

Years ago, condemnation and blame were heaped upon the brother, Swami Nityananda. Chidvalasananda supported and organized vicious attacks upon her own brother. There was money and power at play here. Old story. Boring story. Acted out in many ways throughout history. The name Muktananda gave him was taken from him and SYDA rewrote history, so Nityananda no longer existed. Well, guess what? He is still here. Muktananda has never been held accountable for sexually and emotionally abusing young girls, but the very young Nityananda was condemned for relationships with consenting adults. Go figure

Not only did Muktananda use and abuse his power, but so do those in the SYDA organization. Some were eventually forced to leave, but only after years of flagrantly abusing their positions. It seems you get to stay as part of the cult, so long as you fulfill a function, no matter how much you lie, cheat, abuse power, and sexually exploit others. It is easy to pretend spiritual power to persuade the weak to do what you want. It’s sort of the Oz story. The man behind the curtain is...well...isn’t it obvious? Spiritual garb and words do not an enlightened being make.

None of those who abused their power has ever come forward with the facts. Muktananda never did. No one has had the humility to admit what they did or what someone else did. No one has made restitution to those they harmed. To admit that one’s guru was a flawed man, who somewhere along the line started believing his own propaganda, means also taking responsibility for one’s own failings. The divinity of Muktananda is still proclaimed by those who benefit from such a claim.

Why? Because when one's claim to greatness comes from one's guru, the only way to maintain that greatness is to keep claiming the greatness of your guru. If the guru is flawed...only human...well...where does that leave you?