Saturday, January 5, 2008

When what we had hoped for came to nothing... Part 2

I coaxed my mind away from its disappointment in the story of the ten dullard pilgrims, and turned it towards focusing on the point that tale was meant to illustrate:

"What do you habitually leave out of account when you take stock of your own world? Your own self, your own consciousness. That is the one that must be added to all the zeros, the one of the Self. "

In past years I would have agreed with this assessment without question. The Self? I didn't think about That nearly enough. Couldn't seem to keep That in the forefront of my waking consciousness for any extended length of time, and if I couldn't manage to maintain that practice for even a day or two, how was I ever going to become established in That State?

However, that's not what I was thinking when I heard Gurumayi say these words on New Year's Day. My immediate impression was that they weren't true for me anymore. I don't leave myself out of the consideration of my world! That world exists only in relation to my self, my consciousness, its perspectives, ideas, thoughts, judgments and beliefs.

Of course, I understand the distinction Gurumayi was trying to make between the (pure) self and the ego, I just don't believe in it anymore. When I thought there was a "capital S" self out there that I had to fight to relate to, it didn't eradicate my ego, it weakened it in ways that do not serve me as a person in the real world. It made me uncertain in my own skin. Now that I'm thinking for myself, without the mental gymnastics of having to align my everday thoughts and feelings with some unattainable ideal, I feel much more self-assured, calm and happy. In fact, in the past few months I've noticed a marked reevaluation in my assessment of myself. I feel more grounded in my beliefs, more able to articulate them and more certain of their truth, for me. If others disagree or contradict my truth, I not only don't get offended, I don't feel any need to argue the point. There is a quiet self-assurance that has grown up within me, maybe, probably, likely as a consequence of writing Rituals of Disenchantment and interacting with all those who have been moved to share their thoughts here.

In any case, there was no time to linger over the appreciation of this new estimation of my self worth. Gurumayi was again ecstatically wishing Baba a happy hundredth birthday! She exclaimed that if he were alive today ("in his physical body") Baba would announce to the whole world "I am 100 years old! I am a young man!" She shouted: "Can't you just hear him saying that?"

Now, I never met Baba. Never felt any particular connection to him, though I faithfully read all his books more than once, though I prostrated myself with abject abandon at the foot of his altar in the back of the main hall in South Fallsburg, watching mesmerized as the eyes of his picture would follow me back to my seat during each Intensive. So, when I would hear Gurumayi paint word pictures of him like this in the past I would just smile knowingly, confident that anyone who had met Baba or spent any time with him would be able to envision the scene precisely as she described it. But since that time I have read many more first-hand accounts of devotees' experience with Baba, and have had to come to terms with the well-chronicled instances of his sexual abuse of minors, and the violent tactics certain of his followers used to silence those who tried to protect the innocent. So now, this picture of a Perfected Master that I had always accepted without question was replaced in my mind's eye by one of a Perfect Bastard. Toothless, impotent, I saw Baba pushing his flaccid way into young female devotees, just girls really, as they turned their faces blankly away from the sight of his ecstasy, trying to will away the memories that are already sinking roots into their bodies like cancer.

Gurumayi continued with her fantasy of a live (in his physical body!) Baba having as much fun on his birthday as a ten year old. There would be laughter and food, singing and meditation. (I thought dryly, like there used to be in South Fallsburg when we actually gathered together as one to celebrate Siddha Yoga holy days?) Baba might even hold a year-long Shaktipat Intensive! The day would ring with Baba's characteristic phrases (Gurumayi repeats some of these in Hindi, without translation) And as Baba would always do during a satsang as part of a story, or for emphasis, or to quiet the room when loud kriyas were happening...

she taps the microphone slowly five times and repeats

shanti shanti shanti

Then Gurumayi asks: why is Baba's birthday so significant for us? It is a time to remember and reflect on what he so lovingly taught us. The Self is immortal. The Guru is immortal. The Self, God and the Guru are one. As we celebrate this anniversary of 100 years we are at the same time celebrating Baba's boundless love, Baba's all-pervading shakti, Baba's immeasurable grace and Baba's eternal teachigns.

Baba is immortal! she declares. She repeats this in Hindi. In fact, English and Hindi have alternated throughout this talk in a way I can't remember since I took an Intensive in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. And then Gurumayi begins to sing Jay Jay Muktanandaya! Muktananda Jay Jay! The musicians pick up the melody and play it for a few bars, just long enough for us to begin listlessly to follow along. And then, abruptly, the chant ends and I hear her say those three words.

Play of Consciousness.

Chit Shakti Vilas.

to be continued

14 comments:

MartaSzabo said...

I love the moment when, instead of falling perfectly in line, SeekHer says to himself (not precise quote) "The Self? That's all I think about. How can I have my world without my self?" It was just such a clear moment of "I do exist, I am real just as I am." I loved it. It was full of reality and meaning for me.

Anonymous said...

"There is a quiet self-assurance that has grown up within me, maybe, probably, likely as a consequence of writing Rituals of Disenchantment and interacting with all those who have been moved to share their thoughts here."

Yes..., change "writing" to "participating" and the sentence rings so true for me too! Also, this "quiet self-assurance" is growing, IMO, as a consequence of leaving the kindergarten SY is..
Lovely writing!

Pp

Anonymous said...

WOW.

Seekher, ya NAILED it.

I knew Baba. Not well. Barely enough. But enough to believe I can knowledgeably comment.

I first encountered SY in Fall 1980 as a junior in college, through my then Hatha-yoga teacher. I was spiritually minded, and had practiced Hatha on my own and with teachers since I was a teenager.

My HY teacher had us chant ONS for a few minutes and meditate to that mantra for a few minutes after rising from Shavasana every class. After a number of weeks of this, I found the stillness this practice induced extremely appealing. Although I was spiritually minded, I was also living in a frat house and ingesting all sorts of drugs and booze with my frat bro's...and hated it. I wanted to be clean, to go straight, to not need the group anymore.

After a few weeks of mantra repetition and meditation a couple times a week at HY class, the stillness turned into a fierce tingling like millions of tiny little pinpricks smack in the middle of the third eye, the ajna chakra. And I knew from reading POC that Muktananda was responsible for this stirring of kundalini. After hearing several accounts of shaktipat taking away people's addictions to booze, drugs, and other negatives, I was hooked. Decided that shaktipat was for me. Not only for me, but the likely salvation of my health, my self-worth, my very survival.

And in May 1981, I went to meet him, to receive his touch. And it blew me away. Within one weekend, any need previously felt for drugs or alcohol was gone. GONE. Poof, just like that. He lifted it away with touches to my eyes, ears and head, four times over the course of that weekend. And I was swooning in bliss.

The prior drug addiction was gone forever! I haven't touched an illegal narcotic since. I have, rarely, enjoyed a tiny nip of alcohol at special occasions such as weddings, graduation parties, etc. with other people, perhaps a quarter glass of wine. But no greater quantity than that, and never alone. To this day, since shaktipat, I do not relish the feeling of alcohol in my body.

Little did I understand at the time, however, that I was merely substituting one set of drugs for another. Drug addiction turned into Shakti addiction, Guru addiction, devotional swoon addiction.

I worshipped him as my personal god, my grandfatherly, benevolent, merciful god who took away my sins, absorbed them and burnt them up in the fire of shakti, and replaced them with his own virtues and happiness, transplanting them into me.

Or so I thought.

I saw him only one more time, a non-intensive weekend, before he went back to India in late '81 and before he passed. I asked him a question, and he looked down on me with so much intense, warm love beamed right into my heart, that look on his face was and still is etched into my memory until I draw my own last breath.

For nearly 25 years I stayed loyal even through the split between GM and Nit Jr, and despite the fact that many of the changes GM made over the years, the revisionism, truly didn't "sit right" for me.

In the middle of that 25 year stretch, I read the New Yorker article and rejected it as a pack of lies. "That doesn't match MY experience. I have a hard time believing it's true." And so again, I stayed loyal.

"It wasn't MY experience."

Until the end came.

When a dear friend from our center, a very strong devoted center, revealed she was one of his sex victims.

At first, I didn't believe her.

It took a couple of times reading and re-reading her story on LSY before I mustered the courage to call her. And we talked at length.

By the end of that phone call, I was convinced that she wasn't lying, that the god I worshipped was a perverted pedophile, and his successor was a greedy liar who did all she could to cover up the truth of deep harm inflicted on many, simply to protect an empire of people, wealth, control, and fame.

And it all ended for me.

Since then, I have regretted that the event responsible for the removal of my addiction to drugs and alcohol was brought about through the sexual abuse and deep harm and wounding of so, so many innocent women, teenagers, and girls. The guilt has at times been deep and tremendously overpowering.

So I believe I have the perspective to comment on what you've written about this New Year's message talk by GM, which was:

(Begin quote)
“Now, I never met Baba. Never felt any particular connection to him, though I faithfully read all his books more than once, though I prostrated myself with abject abandon at the foot of his altar in the back of the main hall in South Fallsburg, watching mesmerized as the eyes of his picture would follow me back to my seat during each Intensive. So, when I would hear Gurumayi paint word pictures of him like this in the past I would just smile knowingly, confident that anyone who had met Baba or spent any time with him would be able to envision the scene precisely as she described it. But now this picture of a Perfected Master was replaced by one of a Perfect Bastard. Toothless, impotent, I saw Baba pushing his flaccid way into young female devotees, just girls really, as they turned their faces blankly away from the sight of his ecstasy, trying to will away the memories that are already sinking roots into their bodies like cancer."
(End quote)

Seekher, this is PRECISELY what happened for me. And I DID know him, and directly received his touch. And this is the perfect way to describe how I felt: A perfect being was actually a perfect monster. My shock and revulsion was deep and cutting. The wound, somewhat healed, however, is still there and I suspect will be open for the rest of my days.

(Continue quote)
"Gurumayi continued with her fantasy of a live (in his physical body!) Baba...And as Baba would always do...to quiet the room when loud kriyas were happening...
she taps the microphone slowly five times and repeats "shanti shanti shanti” "
(End quote)

Seekher, it was ALWAYS Gurumayi who hated to hear kriyas and wanted the room quiet.

Actually, Baba LOVED kriyas. The grander, the weirder, the louder the menagerie of animals and odd characters that came tumbling out of people during their kriyas as the kundalini moved them, the more he laughed. In those days, first-timers were seated right down front for Baba. His throne was a mere 30 to 40 feet away from me. I HEARD him myself, chuckling quietly with his deep belly-laughs at the kriyas, a very short distance in front of me.

I only witnessed it once, at my first and only intensive with him, but I witnessed it nonetheless. I am convinced from his reactions to the kriyas that Baba truly enjoyed the show.

She, however, HATED it. My only guess is that as Gurumayi lusted after fame through an imposed elegance, refinement, and craving for being fashionable and respectable, she probably felt the kriya circus was beneath her dignity. She deliberately purged the kriyas to the extent possible just as she purged the hippies...or tried to reform them into elegant yuppies...who made up a major portion of Baba's devotee populace.

I say "imposed" because she truly did all she could...successfully, actually...to change SY culture from a hippie culture to a yuppie culture. She may have had history on her side since Western culture was yuppifying on its own during the late 1980's and the 1990's, but her efforts and the efforts of her minions on staff were overt:

In dress, speech, actions.

Elegance and CONTROL were the priorities.

What troubles me most, about the NYM experience you recount, is that it demonstrates yet again the blatant revisionism GM has practiced over the years, just like the removal of the chapter on the sexual abuse that Sally wrote into "Meditation Revolution" but GM had removed, upon which later, Doug Brooks suffered major career reputation busting. So at least in one case one respected professor's academic reputation was ruined for having defended GM.

My point being, by GM even talking about how Baba would quiet the kriyas down, in MY experience, seems disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst.

Purging of the Siddha Path magazines, at first only those with Nit Jr's pictures in them, of she and her brother sitting together at the Pattabhishek, during programs on the large sofa they jointly gave darshan from, and a host of others. Then, the later purging of ALL editions of Siddha Path ENTIRELY. Some of the editions hung around in the bookstores for a while after the publication of DARSHAN commenced, but only for a couple of short years. And then they were totally unavailable.

The purging of history by GM in order to either remove the sight of that which was painful to her, (her brother?) or to change the spin that newcomers would hear after the fact (to never even knowing that a brother and publicly announced first co-successor even existed!)...to me smacks of the same kind of redefinition of history that the political regimes of the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Or even the US Government, depending on a given administration's priorities or the demands of American society at the time. Or even ancient Egypt, as in The Ten Commandments when all mention of Moses, his likeness and his name, is commanded to be stricken from the records. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Except that it all happened. It's historical fact. It was REAL.

Burying the truth does not deal with the truth, does not process the damage, does not heal the injured, does not heal the wound or the wounded.

THIS is my biggest problem with Gurumayi. She has refused to deal with the truth honestly. Instead, she has tried to cover it up or purge it.

For what??? To protect a fortune? To protect a reputation? To keep an empire from crumbling or collapsing? (A process already well underway, so what's the point of protecting what's left???)

And these actions do not, at least not to this former Siddhayogi®, suggest the actions or attitudes of what I would expect to be those of a perfected being, a spiritual master living in a constant moment-to-moment state of enlightenment and perfected wisdom.

Heck, such actions don't even rise above mastery of yoga's yamas and niyamas.

And I would expect those yamas and niyamas to be EXEMPLIFIED by a perfected master, rather than to be a set of rules only for the unenlightened followers clamoring for enlightenment.

Instead, what appears to be the SY way is that the master, having achieved enlightenment, can act however she wants, no longer bound by the three gunas, the yamas and niyamas.

Gurumayi, in the role you've played for more than 25 years, you should PERSONIFY those yamas and niyamas, not exempt yourself.

Tell the truth about Baba's injurious activities. Come clean about your own revisions and purges and attempts to cover up or hide the truth.

Admit your humanity, and your failings, and we may yet return to love and support you again if you would only set things to rights, to heal the wounded.

But you haven't, have you?
CAN you?

Please convince ME, that I am wrong in my own conviction, that you simply don't have the wherewithal within you, to DO that.

Please.

-A Former Siddhayogi®

Anonymous said...

SeekHer,
Thank you so much for this! And "former siddha yogi"...thank you as well..your post was eloquent and powerful.


"The Self is immortal. The Guru is immortal. The Self, God and the Guru are one"<<<<

OK..folks. These words came directly from the lips of gurumayi just a few days ago. Those of you who ridicule people who "see the guru as 'god'" and can't understand how anyone can "worship" another human being and feel so "superior" because you never bought into that....read those words...The Self, God, the Guru....3 different linguistic designations..all EQUAL.The literal, physical "in the body" guru is uttering one of those "mantras" from her all too human lips....The Guru (in this case, gurumayi), the Self and God are ONE...no different, identical. You can cover it with the icing of "oh she means my INNER self" or "oh, she's speaking metaphorically here"...no, folks..she is speaking literally. Now, do you see the problem? When an unenlightened, unrealized and quite "unbaked" human being sets herself up as "god"..it's a recipe for disaster.
Try changing the language a bit: "Your "inner self", Your own "inner guru" and what you call 'god' are one and the same thing...identical and always available to you. In fact, they ARE you. I (the outer guru) am simply here to help point the way to what you already are and to image what it is to be Awake. Don't worship me. don't put me on a throne, don't wait for MY NYear's message...YOU are your own guru!" If gurumayi is so intent upon "modernizing" siddha yoga and "Westernizing" it...why doesn't she just learn how to speak clearly and simply and say what she means? why go back into those guilt-inducing "teaching stories" and "ancient Hindu" jargon? Be one or be the other..be a good old-fashioned, dyed in the wool Hindu Guru (like Afro Sai Baba) and to hell with what people think or leap right into a new way of seeing things and expressing yourself that would be of more help to your poor devotees. There are alot of examples out there of people who are doing just that.
Gurumayi reminds me of people who try to give great "significance" to their words by attaching them to big ideas and flowery language...the Southern USA is filled with them....evangelical preachers quoting the Prophets and sounding really "authentic" as they hawk their "annointed handkerchiefs" on-line.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone happen to know how Nivritti Gillett (Gillette?) actually spells his last name?

And does anyone know what his given REAL first name is, instead of his SY spiritual first name of "Nivritti"?

I once did a seminar in movement with a lot of people. One of the folks I did the seminar exercises with was a guy with a British or Aussie accent who was a retired psychologist from Connecticut.

I'm trying to find a picture of Nivritti to figure out if he was the guy I did the seminar exercises with. Does anyone know of any photos of Nivritti that exist in the public domain?

Thanks.

Stuart said...

SeekHer quotes from GM's talk...
The Self is immortal. The Guru is immortal. The Self, God and the Guru are one.

The piece that's missing here is... how do any of these pretty words connect with how we actually live our ordinary, everyday life?

For example, if GM had given the message, "Floss your teeth every day for healthier gums," then that would at least be helpful advice. You may say it's a small thing to floss your teeth, but at least it's something. In contrast, "The Self is immortal" is just a nice-sounding idea; it offers nothing connected with what's most important, what we actually do with our lives.

It's true that GM's words like "The Self, God and the Guru are one" may make one feel good. But there are lots of words that make you feel good. For instance, if you repeat "Oobladee, Oobladah" with enough enthusiasm, that can also generate good feelings. And you can get a recording of the Beatles themselves singing this mantra at iTunes, I think it costs 99 cents. That's less than 1/100th of what you pay for GM's pretty phrases that make you feel good.

Oobladee, Oobladah has the further virtue of not filling your head with useless ideas, the way GM's silly ideas about Guru and Self and Whatever do.

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

Anonymous said...

Nivritti (or Nivrtti) Gillett has no "e" at the end. His first name is Richard. Before getting involved with SY he was a part of a group called the International Saturday Group that was led (and apparently still is) by an English woman named Nadine Scott, a charismatic leader, formerly a physiotherapist or similar with no psych training who nevertheless acted as a psychological counselor to group members. Ex-members have complained that she controlled everything in their lives. There was a combination of psychological and physical practice in the group, called bioenergetics. The group started in England and then later many members moved to Portugal. The group has been accused of being a "psychology cult"--which it denies--and also of business improprieties (as the International Service Group, note same initials--ISG). Gillett was the only trained psychotherapist in the group and was the head of their "clinic". There used to be quite a bit of negative information about the group on the web, but in the past six months many of the sites have disappeared as the result of a legal settlement between the critic who owned the anti-ISG sites (one of the founders of the group) and the group. Here is a link to an article that was in The Independent in the UK on 26 January, 1997, about the group:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19970126/ai_n9646160

Reading about the group before the sites were taken down last year, some of their practices reminded me of exercises done in premotsava retreats. Gillett left the group in the 80s and came to SY in 1988. Yes, he is British and still nominally a psychotherapist--not sure if he is an MD or PhD. He has written a couple of pop psych books which you can find on Amazon. There is a photo of him on the SY website, as he was the writer of one of the home study courses--the one on contemplation. Here is a long link to the page with his photo:

http://www.siddhayoga.org/HomeStudy/contemplation/author.html

Personally, I never saw the man in the ashram without a sneer on his face. Aside from George-a-Thief, he may be the most disliked bigwig in SY.

Anonymous said...

""The Self is immortal" is just a nice-sounding idea; it offers nothing connected with what's most important, what we actually do with our lives."

Stuart, "The Self is immortal" together with "you are the Self" sure is a very nice-sounding idea, and very REAL to me. And it sure makes a big difference in what you actually do with your life than if you think you are just a mortal thing...

By the way, never liked the Obladee, Obladaa song, I think it's one of the worst Beatles song... ;-)

Pp

Anonymous said...

>>>But there are lots of words that make you feel good. For instance, if you repeat "Oobladee, Oobladah" with enough enthusiasm, that can also generate good feelings. .Oobladee, Oobladah has the further virtue of not filling your head with useless ideas, the way GM's silly ideas about Guru and Self and Whatever do.


I disagree strongly! If you listen to Oobladee, Oooblahdah too much, it will run through your head incessantly and drive you up the wall so that 30 years later, just hearing the words.."Oobladee, Ooooooblahdah" will bring back ALOT of unpleasant memories and visions of Paul McCartney.... and make you feel very very bad! :). Then your mind will find itself thinking of Paul's recent romantic problems and how seedy he looks and then you'll think, "gee, I look kind of seedy too".
...Wooly Bully, Wooly Bully, Wooly Bully, Wooly Bully, Woooooly Buuuuly....

s.

Anonymous said...

Richard Gillett is an M.D. and psychiatrist, I believe. I don't know if he is licensed in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

What FOOLISH comments about Paul and his life. Those four guys were GURUs in their own right and this blog is not meant to trash them. And by the way, directly or indirectly if it weren't for George Harrison and the rest of the boys, you folks wouldn't have even dabbled in any of this Indian spirituality. "All You Need is Love".....Is there something wrong with that? Go to www.youtube.com George Harrison, "Om Hari Om".......he left this planet "enlightened"...that's for sure!!!!

eddie89 said...

How great it is to write 500 words and see it disappear here.

eddie89 said...

How appropriate that I ended up that long, long post speaking about formlessness.

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