Sunday, January 6, 2008

When what we had hoped for came to nothing... Part 3

Play of Consciousness. Just hearing Gurumayi mention Baba's spiritual autobiography took me way back to the start of my sadhana. Like every good beginner Siddha Yogi I had bought a copy of the hard cover edition, the one with the picture of Baba in his "lion of ganeshpuri" shaktipat pose on the cover. I began to devour it immediately, but have to say I didn't finish it for a long time. SY was too new and there were just too many other books and talks to command my attention (interesting phrase, that). And Play of Consciousness, let's face it, is a tough read for those who have not yet developed the appetite for colorful yogic kriyas and abstruse Indian philosophy. In the first years of my sadhana, it was just too much.

Eventually, of course, I came around. You just couldn't NOT read it if you were serious about the path. For a time during the late eighties and early nineties it was mentioned in every course, every Intensive. I vividly remember sitting on the hillside overlooking Nityananda Lake during the Fire Course one summer night. The leaders of the course were selectively humiliating South Fallsburg ashram insiders under the guise of asking them 'fiery' questions about their sadhana. The rumor was that the swamis asking the tough questions were wearing hidden earphones, that it was really Gurumayi who was behind the 'tapasya'. Later, it came out that it had been George Afif on the other end of the microphone, settling old scores and maintaining his iron grip over the ashram. As a newcomer and 'short term retreat participant' I couldn't know any of this; I just bought the line that those 'closest to the Guru's fire' were burning up karma.

At some point the questions came addressed to the general assembly of course participants. "Who here is not afraid of dying?" was one of the first. When a smattering of souls raised their hands they were made to stand up; the bravest among them volunteered to be handed a mic and have their resolve tested. As each one explained the source of their fearlessness the leaders mocked them, exposed their flimsy devotional rationales, taunted them by saying that the Guru wouldn't be with them at the moment of their death. I remember this so well because my best friend at the time was one of the unfortunates. I ached for him, but wasn't fearless enough to stand up in his defense, only smart enough to keep my head down and not answer the next question—which was "Who here has not read Play of Consciousness?" Amazingly, people stood up to confess this lapse. You can imagine the abuse these 'seekers after the truth' were subjected to—they wanted to follow in Baba's footsteps and couldn't even be bothered to read his spiritual autobiography?

But the leaders were not finished with the rest of us. "Who has only read Play of Consciousness once? Stand up!" And then, of course, who has read it only twice? Three times? The point was hammered home with each fresh rank of failures, until nearly everybody was standing. Why hadn't we read the greatest book about sadhana ever written, over and over again? What obstinancy kept us from continually studying what was the sum and summation of Baba's spiritual knowledge and attainment! What kind of seekers were we?

Word of the Fire Course spread through the Siddha Yoga sangham like, well, like a wildfire. When the 25th anniversary edition of Play of Consciousness was subsequently published it was hard to find anyone at the ashram who didn't have a new copy tucked under their arm or open on their lap. I read it again and again. By this time I was better able to appreciate this strange book with its exotic accounts of Baba's night time meditations, when he would be visited by gods and goddesses who would take him with them to Siddha Loka, or the moon, or hell, like otherworldly tour guides. Some of the language was utterly beautiful. I remember one passage in particular in which Baba uncharacteristically couldn't remember what had taken place during his meditation, only that entering it was like floating on a black river beneath the silent gates of a dark city. The account of Baba's initiation by Bhagawan Nityananda was towering in its serene, majestic beauty. Whoever wrote Play of Consciousness (and speculation tends to run to Amma, Baba's personal assistant at the time, whose name, whose very existence, has been scrubbed from SY history) was a fantastically talented writer.

At that moment I was interrupted from my reverie and my attention turned back to the hall as I heard Gurumayi rushing on with her talk:

"Play of Consciousness. Chit Shakti Vilas. To describe the importance of meditation and spiritual practice, Swami Muktananda wrote what has become THE BOOK for those who want to pursue sadhana. On Baba's 100th birthday I'd like to bring your attention to the SY legacy. Baba Muktananda established the SY path as a living tradition for seekers of the truth around the world. Baba's mahaprasad, his supreme gift to us is the great legacy of essential SY teachings. These teachings are alive with divine grace, they are chaitanya, they have been infused with the guru's prana shakti, the guru's breath which is chaitanya."

As she spoke, Gurumayi repeated many words and entire phrases in Hindi, as if to give them added legitimacy, to stress that they come from outside the Western tradition and are unknowable to devotees unless the Guru translates them into terms we can understand. She went on to talk about how we have the teachings because of the way Baba undertook his sadhana, how he respected the teachings and guidance he received from his Guru, how he studied, practiced, assimilated and implemented the SY teachings.

And then she began a familiar practice, taking each word she had used to describe Baba's sadhana and giving its dictionary definition, but I was still thinking about Play of Consciousness. Why had she brought it up, only to immediately move on? Had the most important book in Siddha Yoga become nothing more than a throw-away line? Or was there something I was missing? Could this be one of those mysterious hints Gurumayi was so good about hiding in her talks--the kind that would become poured over and interpreted and re-interpreted during a year's worth of study sessions? If so, what did it mean?

Gurumayi was using the occasion of Baba's 100th birthday as a pretext to examine the origins and trace the lineage of Siddha Yoga, following the transmission of teachings and grace from Bhagawan NItyananda to Baba Muktananda to...who? Wouldn't it be natural to say that the transmission continued with her Guru-hood? Why this lacuna? Why stop at Baba's teachings as exemplified in his book Play of Consciousness, or, in its original name:

Chit Shakti Vilas

Chidvilasananda

Oh. right. I get it now. Bringing up the name of Baba's autobiography is a neat way for Gurumayi to remind us that Baba passed the lineage on to her, Swami Chidvilasananda, without having to deal with the messiness of narrating the actual succession drama, i.e. first her brother Nityananda is raised to the guru's chair by Baba, then she is installed as his co-successor and then, soon after Baba's death, the coup.

This sleight of hand has another purpose, it allows Gurumayi to simultaneously claim the Siddha Yoga Guruhood, and deftly sidestep it. Because when she retreats back out of the spotlight this taped message has briefly thrown on her to resume whatever life she is leading, her students will doubtless be told that this is an act of humility, that she wishes them to receive their instruction not from Chidvilasananda, but from their paid study of Chit Shakti Vilas.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

>>"I was better able to appreciate this strange book with its exotic accounts of Baba's night time meditations, when he would be visited by gods and goddesses who would take him with them to Siddha Loka, or the moon, or hell, like otherworldly tour guides.""

Oh yeah...I remember poring over my dog-eared copy. Later on, after spending alot of time in India (and not at GSP), I heard the exact same "tantric folk tales" of obfuscation (the Lokas of this and that, the mind-blowing powers and experiences and all the rest of what I had read and "believed" in POC). Just as there is a tradition of hagiography in India...(all the "saints" seem to perform the same "miracles" and have similar childhoods special "births", exalted qualities, etc.and the devotees go through the same "experiences),there is a tradition, within tantra, of these specific experiences that muktananda describes. The big difference is that other tantrics didn't generally write their "autobiographies".
What, in reality, is the point of reading and studying POC? To repeat muktananda's "sadhana"? I don't think so; it isn't possible to do that here.To become "like muktananda"...again, not really possible..although you can develop the "siddhis" and turn into your own version of baba...a creep like Chetananda; To have blissed out "shaktified" drugged-out "experiences"...well, you might find that to be the case..but, how is that helpful except as an escape from "what is"..and "what is" right now, in this moment..is "true". What, exactly, are students supposed to learn from POC??? How will studying it actually help them to be Awake in the present moment? mostly, it's a way to go off on one of those "trips" we were all so fond of in siddha yoga.
Here is something a friend sent me from a recent Anandi Ma newsletter from India that will sound very familiar to many people reading here..just substitute gurumayi's name when you see the name "Ma": "Every time I sat down, I entered into deep long meditations without doing anything Most times I was unconscious, while at other times my body took the form of either Krishna or Durga. I had a vision of Ma who turned immediately into Laksmi. I just started crying."

(after returning back to the USA.."It was like slowly crashing...I realized that my state of being in harmony with everything was starting to erode. Living here (in the USA) is quite taxing...most of what i experienced in India has been swallowed up by what I can only call a thick, dense, all-enveloping darkness. Nothing supports staying on the path, keeping one's mind free of disturbances and keeping personal vibrations high...maybe I can use those days I had there (in India) as reminders."


To me, this is a perfect example of just why doing this kind of "sadhana" is not particularly beneficial in the long run..it creates a false sense of "there" being the only place anything is possible and "the guru" as the one who makes it possible while "the devotee" has to live in a kind of exile from his/her own "real life" in the present moment, drugging him/herself with practices, the focus of which are not "liberation" but going somewhere "else". What's the point? Why not embrace the fact that you are here in this body and that EVERYTHING is here, right here, in this moment..totally available..to everyone...no "intercessor" required.

Incidentally the description of the "Fire Course" is mind-boggling.

Anonymous said...

"Like every good beginner Siddha Yogi I had bought a copy of the hard cover edition, the one with the picture of Baba in his "lion of ganeshpuri" shaktipat pose on the cover."

Seekher, which version of POC that every Siddha Yogi read as a beginner was quite different depending on what era you started SY.

Many who started up in GM's time undoubtedly recognize what you just described.

Me?

No hardcover version. The old ochre-colored version with Muktananda's shaktipat photo, all in softcover.

Not long before me, others read different paperback covers with different names..."Chitshakti Vilas" first. Then, simply "Guru" was the title. I think the version I first read was the "3rd time around" version.

The version GM hawks now, has had quite a LOT of stuff edited out of the original. I remember once thumbing through it in the SYDA bookstore a few years ago just to see what the new edition looked like, and clearly remember thinking "HEY...where's that picture of such and such..." or "whatever happened to that passage about (...whatever it was...) in that chapter? Did they edit that out??"

Same thing regarding that little thin paperback about Bhagawan Nityananda...except that had the heck edited out of it even MORE so. Possibly because Amma (Sw. Prajnananda) wrote it for Baba, and GM seemed to hold abject hatred for Amma. Then promptly banished her within a few weeks to a couple of months after Baba passed to her own little ashram in Gujarat.

What I'm picking at here is "every good beginner siddha yogi". Your statement, Seekher, isn't exactly correct. Correct for your "entering class" perhaps. But not all the entering and/or graduating classes.

I'm being a stickler. But feel it's important enough to point out.

SeekHer said...

anon wrote:
"What I'm picking at here is "every good beginner siddha yogi". Your statement, Seekher, isn't exactly correct. Correct for your "entering class" perhaps. But not all the entering and/or graduating classes.

I'm being a stickler. But feel it's important enough to point out."

Of course, you're correct. It would be a fascinating exercise to collect all the editions of POC and other SY books from Baba's time and trace not only the deletions in subsequent versions released during Gurumayi's tenure, but also to note which ones dropped off the list altogether. My favorite of these is the small orange book that contained Baba's exegesis of the Kundalini Stavaha--a slim work that nonetheless outlined Baba's tantric practice more openly than any other I've read.

Stuart said...

I recall the first time I read "Play of Consciousness," it was very similar to when I read the Carlos Casteneda books. That is... my thought process was like, "This is so amazing, so fantastical. Let me just for a moment allow the possibility that it's all the God's-honest truth. If that were so, it'd be so ground-breaking, so significant, that I'd have to dedicate my life to experiencing some of this for myself."

And once that little idea takes hold, it directed my life for years. How could I just walk away from these fantastical stories, if there was even a little chance that they were The Truth?

I don't regret any of it, it was a process I had to go through. Only after years and years did I realize that there wasn't the slightest evidence that Play of Consciousness was anything other than dreams or hallucinations, or perhaps just pretend stories made up to control the masses. It was my own thinking, my own belief, my own decision to suspend critical thinking and enter the fantasy... that held the real power.

The book, the stories mean nothing. Our own thinking, our ideas and beliefs, make everything.

This dynamic is common to lots of similar guru groups. In 2007, I visited for the first time with guru Adi Da's (aka Bubba Free John etc etc). Here's part of what I wrote about that in my blog:

In the Da intro program I spoke of, they said something like this: If you're in Da's presence, you'll definitely get these amazing and wonderful things happen to you, and you don't need to do anything. Except, oh yeah, just one little thing, you do have to accept that he's enlightened.

And I thought, Jeez, of course! Even if you accept that a rock is enlightened, you'll get amazing experiences in the presence of that rock (as in a Hindu temple, or a vortex in Sedona). But why pretend to accept something just because you're told too? It seems like a tiny thing at first, but then it's a slippery slope to no end of non-sense, based on the one little act of pretending.


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

Anonymous said...

Hello Seekher, I appreciate your detailed account very much - please go on!

Anonymous said...

"To me, this is a perfect example of just why doing this kind of "sadhana" is not particularly beneficial in the long run..it creates a false sense of "there" being the only place anything is possible and "the guru" as the one who makes it possible while "the devotee" has to live in a kind of exile from his/her own "real life" in the present moment, drugging him/herself with practices, the focus of which are not "liberation" but going somewhere "else". What's the point? Why not embrace the fact that you are here in this body and that EVERYTHING is here, right here, in this moment..totally available..to everyone...no "intercessor" required.

Incidentally the description of the "Fire Course" is mind-boggling."

January 6, 2008 1:42 PM

Dear Anon who posted above,

I feel as though I have had the great priviledge of seeing a specialist in this matters for what ails me by reading your post. Like extra propulsion to the exit path out of this labyrinth. Many many thanks.

Fire course is a good example to remember of the extremes of SY that many staff lived through and may not want to remember clearly. Is there a point in remembering the self abasement that getting close to the guru required?

So grateful to those able to see all this clearly. I am still quite disabled in some ways. Traumatised is not too strong a word. Not to shift blame to poor Chidvilas. Not doing that. But why the hell can't she put her shoulder to the wheel any more to help us get us past this?

A shy Indian woman may find facing all of us intimidating and I am not sure a viewing or darshan situation is required. But is it so hard to pick up a pen and write of view authentic words? In honor of those who really did love her as a person? Beyond the f**d up inheritance that creep M. left her.....We are on the same road, our paths may cross again, might as well face it all I say.

Anonymous said...

"But now this picture of a Perfected Master was replaced by one of a Perfect Bastard. Toothless, impotent, I saw Baba pushing..."

"Later, it CAME OUT that it had been George Afif on the other end of the microphone, settling old scores and maintaining his iron grip over the ashram. "

"Whoever wrote Play of Consciousness (and SPECULATION tends to run to Amma, Baba's personal assistant at the time, whose name, whose very existence, has been scrubbed from SY history)..."

Dear SeekHer (are you really still SEEKING HER?),

Maybe I would have prefered 3 articles (or more!) focusing on the message itself and not so much in old things, Muktananda, George Afif, the Fire Course, Amma... but I can understand that if you know all these facts first hand, they might keep coming to your mind... but if this is the case, what did you exactly expect from the New Year message, from the SY org? I mean, you seem quite "biased" to always end up to "Muktananda impotent", "George Affif", "Amma speculation", etc.

Much love,
Pp

Anonymous said...

SeekHer

This narrative is so very good that I'm going to wait for the whole thing to appear before I read another word. I have no comment at all beyond this: your description of your experience at the New Year's Broadcast/CD event may be on par with some of the best personal memoir writing in the public market. Please continue to post installments, if at possible, all on a daily basis.

Please let us know if anyone from your Center or from the ashram reprimands you for what you are writing, and let us know if ever you feel you must stop blogging due to personal harassment.

Anonymous said...

Dear SeekHer,
This blog is not only valuable but a necessary antidote (along with Marta's blog and the other sites questioning syda).
Melissa Gilbert's book, "Eat, Pray and Love" has been on the NY times paperback bestseller list for weeks and weeks. I have met several people (who know i was in siddha yoga) who have told me that her book has inspired them to try sidda yoga. They all want those "experiences" she describes in her chapter on GSP. They are yoga teachers, meditators, business owners, Mothers, etc. all across the spectrum. I shudder to think of the influx of new devotees attracted by Gilbert's bestselling whitewash and the ripple effect into yoga studios and families. So: thank you and thank you to everyone here for telling the truth.
s.

Anonymous said...

>>>"I feel as though I have had the great priviledge of seeing a specialist in this matters for what ails me by reading your post. Like extra propulsion to the exit path out of this labyrinth. Many many thanks"<<.
">>So grateful to those able to see all this clearly. I am still quite disabled in some ways. Traumatised is not too strong a word."<<<

You are more than welcome...hang in there! We've all been through this searing post-syda "refining fire"! I remember thinking, at one point, "i didn't realize, when the books talked about 'the dissolution of my identity' that they meant THIS! I didn't think 'neti neti' was like THIS when I read those books about Bhagavan Nityananda!" I think i secretly felt that the guru's peacock wand was going to wave away the worst of it...nope! But the clarity and inner strength that comes from this process is a wonderful thing... "ground zero" for the rest of your life.

best of luck to you and love,

s.

Anonymous said...

To s and all:

Sorry to seem petty but,

"Melissa Gilbert's book, "Eat, Pray and Love" ....

The writer's name is Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert and yes, I agree, it is very important for this blog to continue given that Gilbert's compellingly written book is at #1 on the NYT Best Seller List.

I still believe Gilbert is a very good writer but I wholeheartedly agree with the description of her portrayal of SY as "whitewash".

And useful to SY if it turns out that her book brings people into badly understaffed SY Centers, or into the "path" via podcasts, correspondence courses and the like.

No concern that anyone will seek what Liz got in Ganeshpuri - the Indian ashram is closed up tight, like most other major SY venues.

K.

Anonymous said...

"No concern that anyone will seek what Liz got in Ganeshpuri - the Indian ashram is closed up tight, like most other major SY venues."

Not that tight, some friends of mine are going for a retreat there in a few weeks... something doesn't fit here, if SYDA is so eager to get money, why not allow many more people to GSP ashram? (only few are allowed nowadayas). I think many people would pay great sums happily...

Pp

SeekHer said...

Pp wrote:
"Maybe I would have prefered 3 articles (or more!) focusing on the message itself and not so much in old things, Muktananda, George Afif, the Fire Course, Amma... but I can understand that if you know all these facts first hand, they might keep coming to your mind... but if this is the case, what did you exactly expect from the New Year message, from the SY org? I mean, you seem quite "biased" to always end up to "Muktananda impotent", "George Affif", "Amma speculation", etc."

Guilty. I am quite biased. I can't help interpret this message from any other than my own perspective, which is informed by all of the past experiences of 18 years of sadhana that I've referenced here. My experience of hearing the New Year's Message was dismal. I felt that not only was Gurumayi phoning it in (literally!) but that the content was clumsily constructed to manipulate those who are still inclined to follow along without asking questions. That my account is peppered with the natural questions that came up for me just means that I am no longer willing to be a shepherded blindly along.

I also have no doubt that many others would prefer to have a succinct account of the New Year's Message without having to wade through my reactions to it. There is a place where this is available to all. Visit www.syda.org. I believe the webcast will be up until Feb 15.

Anonymous said...

SeekHer said: I can't help interpret this message from any other than my own perspective, which is informed by all of the past experiences of 18 years of sadhana that I've referenced here. My experience of hearing the New Year's Message was dismal. I felt that not only was Gurumayi phoning it in (literally!) but that the content was clumsily constructed to manipulate those who are still inclined to follow along without asking questions. That my account is peppered with the natural questions that came up for me just means that I am no longer willing to be a shepherded blindly along.

----

I like it just the way it is, except that I would like to read more! Soon!

Anonymous said...

Seekher said "I felt that...the content was clumsily constructed to manipulate those who are still inclined to follow along without asking questions...willing to be shepherded blindly along."

Seekher, this speaks volumes about the people who are still in SY, and wholeheartedly devoted to it.

I'm willing to assume that there is some core contingent of people who exactly fit the description above, who will NEVER leave SY even if somehow GM makes a public and official exit...or passes away. They WANT to believe something unquestioningly, unhesitatingly.

Or, in the case of some of them, so much of their adult self-identity is wrapped around being in SY, that without it, they don't know who they'd be anymore or what they'd do anymore...without it, they feel like they'd be totally lost. And so, they're afraid to face the truth.

Of course, they're wrong. IMO they'd actually beging finding their true selves again.

Unfortunately for me, my own spouse is in this "willing to be shepherded category". And a lot of the comments I just made are based on a few years of observing my spouse, after having quit SY fully myself.

Anonymous said...

"Pp wrote:
"Maybe I would have prefered 3 articles (or more!) focusing on the message itself and not so much in old things, Muktananda, George Afif, the Fire Course, Amma... but I can understand that if you know all these facts first hand, they might keep coming to your mind... but if this is the case, what did you exactly expect from the New Year message, from the SY org? I mean, you seem quite "biased" to always end up to "Muktananda impotent", "George Affif", "Amma speculation", etc."

Guilty. I am quite biased. I can't help interpret this message from any other than my own perspective, which is informed by all of the past experiences of 18 years of sadhana that I've referenced here. My experience of hearing the New Year's Message was dismal. I felt that not only was Gurumayi phoning it in (literally!) but that the content was clumsily constructed to manipulate those who are still inclined to follow along without asking questions. That my account is peppered with the natural questions that came up for me just means that I am no longer willing to be a shepherded blindly along.

I also have no doubt that many others would prefer to have a succinct account of the New Year's Message without having to wade through my reactions to it. There is a place where this is available to all. Visit www.syda.org. I believe the webcast will be up until Feb 15."

Come on SeekHer, I didn't even think of paying the 60 euros, that's the importance I give to the NYM... you didn't answer my question, what did you expect?

But yes, you are right, there are the ones who want to be shepherded blindly (who pay 60 eur or 100 $ for the NYM) and the ones who just see the Muktananda impotent, Amma speculation, etc... (I thought these were in ExSY), and also those who are trying to see the shadows and also the lights...

Best,
Pp

Anonymous said...

>>"But yes, you are right, there are the ones who want to be shepherded blindly (who pay 60 eur or 100 $ for the NYM) and the ones who just see the Muktananda impotent, Amma speculation, etc... (I thought these were in ExSY), and also those who are trying to see the shadows and also the lights...

Best,
Pp"<<

Well..you've just expressed them ("the shadows and the lights") and most of us see them and are working our way to our own balance. The pendulum swings and then it comes into a still point...so I'm not sure i understand your problem. If you want the message straight from the horse's mouth, then pay your money or wait until Feb 15th but don't complain about how you're hearing it here. And, by the way, you have an extremely polarized view of how other people see the world.
s.

Anonymous said...

"Or, in the case of some of them, so much of their adult self-identity is wrapped around being in SY, that without it, they don't know who they'd be anymore or what they'd do anymore...without it, they feel like they'd be totally lost. And so, they're afraid to face the truth.

Of course, they're wrong. IMO they'd actually beging finding their true selves again."
***
There's a deep way in which I can't think of a better place to be than totally lost. I felt totally lost after leaving SY myself (after 20 years) but deep down I knew that the disorientation and intense feelings of loss were a very fertile matrix for becoming more free, even though it was painful and confusing. "Not knowing who I was" was the best thing that ever happened to me (so far).

I have known many who left SY to jump immediately to another guru, another path with directions and steps and formulae for "reaching" the goal (whatever the goal is) without being willing to spend time in that scary place with no footing, no anchor, no "direction home." I don't want to judge people who make that choice, but I think it's a big mistake.

I hope all those in the position you describe one day find they are willing to be set adrift, to meet their own confusion and pain straight on.

older but wiser

Anonymous said...

Pp,

You say "there are the ones who want to be shepherded blindly (who pay 60 eur or 100 $ for the NYM) and the ones who just see the Muktananda impotent, Amma speculation, etc... (I thought these were in ExSY)"

I second s.'s thoughts. And need to ask you: Are you complaining about "exsy" people expressing their negative opinions here? That would indicate to me that you're trying to steer the direction of conversation on Seekher's blog.

If Seekher doesn't want ANY negative opinions here, it's his blog and his to request. Such would, however, take away a lot of vitality and richness of the discussion and debate here, in my opinion. Thus far, this is the ONLY site I've seen where pro-SY and anti-SY people can post their opinions and then not jump all over each other or totally flame each other, where the conversation can be fairly civil. The availability of such a site is in and of itself a thing of incredible value. If one eliminates any pro-SY comment then you ARE left with something akin to EXSY. And similarly, if one eliminates any anti-SY comment, you are left with something akin to SGMKJ. Either polarity limits the vitality and richness of the discussion by its very nature.

It is Seekher's place to shoo comments by EXSY'ers away from here, not yours. And I can already tell by people's signed initials and writing styles that at least 3 EXSY'ers comment here regularly, yet very civilly. Is Seekher going to ask them to stop coming simply because they participate heavily in EXSY? Or to another, for participating heavily in SGMKJ? Seekher has that right, but somehow, I doubt we've yet reached the need for that.

I do find your attempt to try and suggest that EXSY people shouldn't come here to comment, to border on the offensive. I will allow that perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you are trying to convey, so if I have misinterpreted, please forgive me. But I think you are overstepping your bounds and it rubbed me the wrong way, as it appears to have rubbed s. the wrong way also.

Anonymous said...

"Well..you've just expressed them ("the shadows and the lights") and most of us see them and are working our way to our own balance. The pendulum swings and then it comes into a still point...so I'm not sure i understand your problem. If you want the message straight from the horse's mouth, then pay your money or wait until Feb 15th but don't complain about how you're hearing it here. And, by the way, you have an extremely polarized view of how other people see the world.
s."

Ok, I thought ROD was a place where this balance was seeked but I felt that in these last 3 posts about NYM, SeekHer only saw the "shadows" with all these remembrances (some, just speculations) he pointed out. This is my opinion, sorry if it sounded too much as a complain.

About polarized views, if you mean ExSY and SYDA org, yes, I think my view of them are both polarized, I can't see them "working their way to their balance", but I think I can also recognize a good part in them, both.

Best,
Pp

SeekHer said...

anon wrote:
"Come on SeekHer, I didn't even think of paying the 60 euros, that's the importance I give to the NYM... you didn't answer my question, what did you expect? "

If by your question you mean 'what did you expect from the New Year's Message or the SY org' you have only to read my first post about the message, where I stated what I had hoped Gurumayi would talk about. That she didn't even come close, but rather phoned in a Siddha Yoga 101 pep talk, is the basis for the reactions I had while listening to the talk, which you for some reason object to reading here.

SeekHer said...

anon wrote:
"Ok, I thought ROD was a place where this balance was seeked but I felt that in these last 3 posts about NYM, SeekHer only saw the "shadows" with all these remembrances (some, just speculations) he pointed out. This is my opinion, sorry if it sounded too much as a complain."

That's fair. I can see your point. These last three posts are uniformly negative. Let me explain. My take on the New Year's message was fairly negative. Why? Because Gurumayi and SY are not only systematically ignoring all the questions and doubts that have been raised by the allegations against Baba, the legitimacy of his succession from Nityananda, the succession drama surrounding Gurumayi and her brother--they are using this talk to whitewash them completely over yet again. When you ignore something that needs to be addressed, it only makes that thing stand out like a sore thumb. Only those who have never looked behind the curtain, or who are eager to forget what they've seen or read about SY's history, can be placated by the same old stories.

Yes, these people see only light. And many who have left SY can see only darkness. But when a talk like this comes out that is nothing but sweetness and light, it just makes the shadows behind the curtain all the deeper.

Anonymous said...

>>>"About polarized views, if you mean ExSY and SYDA org, yes, I think my view of them are both polarized, I can't see them "working their way to their balance", but I think I can also recognize a good part in them, both.

Best,
Pp"<<<

Have hope, Pp...:). I think this site and Marta's are both helping the process along.
best,
s.

Anonymous said...

>>"When you ignore something that needs to be addressed, it only makes that thing stand out like a sore thumb"

Yes, I think that's true.."what you resist will persist", as the saying goes...or what you repress will, eventually, emerge...sometimes in very strange ways. Once I had a conversation with gurumayi's brother...he said there was a time, right after baba died that many people (including him) felt it was time to come clean and talk about the dark side of siddha yoga. He told me he had asked gurumayi to do it...but met with a wall. Of course, who knows who is telling what "truth" here or how self-seving that conversation may have been but, it seems to me, that there have been several very obvious "intersections" where telling the truth could really have worked and turned the yoga around for the better, retaining all of what was "good" and taking a broom and sweeping out the rest of it...The New Yorker article debacle comes to mind. What if gurumayi, swami durgananda, kripananda, et al had told the truth at that point...since alot of people who believed the article left anyway...why not come clean and then build the "gurukula" on a solid foundation. Another opportunity: the publication of "Meditation Revolution". Once again, the chance to shine the light into the darkness (isn't that what "guru" means?). so it seems not looking at this dark side is very much a part of siddha yoga and will continue to be...unfortunately. The repression of "The Shadow Side" in an organization doesn't work any better than it does in the life of the individual.
Can you imagine how really liberating it would be to tell the truth of this mess and make amends? The act of a truly realized being.
s.

SeekHer said...

seekher said...
Anon wrote:
"It is Seekher's place to shoo comments by EXSY'ers away from here, not yours. And I can already tell by people's signed initials and writing styles that at least 3 EXSY'ers comment here regularly, yet very civilly. Is Seekher going to ask them to stop coming simply because they participate heavily in EXSY? Or to another, for participating heavily in SGMKJ? Seekher has that right, but somehow, I doubt we've yet reached the need for that."

We will never reach a need for that. Anyone and everyone is welcome to comment here, so long as the comments are not flames or flagrantly off-topic. I do agree with Pp that my presentation of the message talk, as I experienced it, has a very negative tone. The "cure" for that in a blog that welcomes all viewpoints is for people who heard the talk and came away with a favorable impression to comment here. From talk at my center most people who did hear the talk are raving about it. I honestly don't know what they're talking about, but will listen respectfully if they're willing to go on record about what they liked and why (beyond just hearing Gurumayi's voice again, naturally.)

I'd also like to say that since the comments here are running more negative than positive, some people might feel they will be jumped on if they comment favorably. I won't let that happen. So, please, if you heard the talk and you want to express your opinion (one way or another) please write in. My viewpoint is far too narrow to accommodate the bandwidth here!

Anonymous said...

As always, your writing is gorgeous and powerful, and carries me along. I particularly liked how you painted the cold, impersonalness of a recording; how self-isolated Gurumayi comes across without a human audience. I know that would be my reaction too, and I got it clearly from your description.

There were a few places where I wasn't right with you. The first is "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..."

When I read that, I felt unconvinced, let down even. From one sentence to the next, you have made a radical transformation. Yet you give no clue as to why. The picture was replaced--but when, how, why? It's not as if anything had changed-- the past you referred to was post-New Yorker, so what accounted for the shift? I felt like you left out the most important part.

SeekHer said...

seekher said...
anon wrote:
"There were a few places where I wasn't right with you. The first is "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..."

You're right, I didn't stop to give the backstory there, and it is the most crucial place to do so. I have gone back and amended that paragraph on my post. The point I was trying to make is that, while I had been accustomed to accepting Siddha Yoga's hagiography about Baba without question, I've heard and read much different accounts of his behavior. Unfortunately, when Gurumayi asked us to imagine Baba dancing like a happy ten year old, it brought up images of him with girls not that much older, whose happiness he was said to have robbed, along with their innocence.

Stuart said...

That she didn't even come close, but rather phoned in a Siddha Yoga 101 pep talk, is the basis for the reactions I had while listening to the talk, which you for some reason object to reading here.

Everything happens for a reason. It's sometimes difficult to find the cause, but if we examine with a bit of effort, we can usually get an inkling.

For years leading up to this talk, Gurumayi had walked away from her public role. This was surprising, since Baba was so strong in insisting that darshan, the company of the physical guru, was a great great blessing. So WHY did Gurumayi leave her devotees without that? If she looked at it honestly, she'd get at least a little idea of the reason. Wouldn't that be fascinating?

In spite of all the horrific facts we've learned about Baba's secret life, Gurumayi still chooses to speak of him as a perfect saint. WHY does she choose to idolize someone of this sort? Surely she could look into her own mind, get some insight into her motivations, and share it with her devotees. Wouldn't that be fascinating too?

Like the Buddhists, Hindus and Yogis speak of "Dharma." That means TRUTH. The sky is blue. Sugar is sweet. Those are examples of DHARMA, simple, straight-forward truth. Why not include a little Dharma in these talks?

Of course, one reason could be... there's this whole organization, this whole sub-culture, that's been built around the idea of the perfect guru. There are people in SYDA management who are dependent on the org for their livelihood. What's more scary to a middle-aged person than to have to re-build life from scratch?

Even those who aren't materially dependent on SYDA may be psychologically dependent. Maybe SYDA and its belief-system are what give some people the feeling that they're worth something, that they've done something with their lives. Maybe Gurumayi herself is among such people. Imagine how scary to even contemplate giving that up!

So what's more important? Sustaining the ideas and beliefs that support you materially or psychologically... or Dharma? Which one do you like?

To my mind, that's the central point of this stuff we call "spirituality." We build up these material and psychological structures that comfort us, and in defending these structures, we sacrifice a little Dharma. But maybe sometimes we decide that we can let go, detatch a little, and bring simple Truth back to the forefront.

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

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for the recap. I was almost thinking I should fork over the $100 to see if I could get back some of the old inspirational, idealistic feelings. You saved me the money and reminded me that when it's gone, it really is gone.

Anonymous said...

"My take on the New Year's message was fairly negative. Why? Because Gurumayi and SY are not only systematically ignoring all the questions and doubts that have been raised by the allegations against Baba, the legitimacy of his succession from Nityananda, the succession drama surrounding Gurumayi and her brother..."

I really think GM/SYDA org will allways ignore all these questions, they probably believe they can continue ignoring them quite safely, and they are probably right... I think that, outside the US, the New Yorker article, ExSY, this blog, etc., do not have much audience or are not known (I'm sure most of my friends still in SY in Spain do not know the existence of the article, the blogs, etc), so I think we are not that many to make them admit all these questions and doubts, which would probably cause the sudden end of SY. So that's why I would never expect a talk by GM addressing these points, and that's why I found strange that you expected it. Sorry if I sounded too aggresive and did not explain myself clearly in my previous comments (I can see it was my mistake, since I quite agree with the replies that my comments caused! hope this one is more clear... :)).

Best,
Pp

SeekHer said...

Pp wrote:
"So that's why I would never expect a talk by GM addressing these points, and that's why I found strange that you expected it."

You know, Pp, I find it strange that I expected it too! In fact, I really didn't. I had hoped for a more transparent reckoning of the situation we collectively face, with the shuttering of ashrams and the MIA status of our Guru for four years. But when the talk was constructed to bolster belief in precisely those aspects of Siddha Yoga history and legacy that have come most under attack (often with quite convincing arguments) I saw nothing but damage control.

Siddha Yoga has become an echo-chamber, with the Guru preaching exclusively to a choir that is shrinking all the time. I don't know if it can recover, which would require reaching out to many more new peopleto replace those who have left, or are feeling disenfranchised. Can they do that without coming clean? I suppose that depends on the strength of forums like this, in which people of good faith struggle to make sense of a path we have all, at one time or another, loved deeply, but which has betrayed many.

Anonymous said...

Pp said "I think we are not that many to make them admit all these questions and doubts, which would probably cause the sudden end of SY."

IMO SY will not have a sudden end. Instead, it will gradually reach a point where its supporters have dwindled down to a point where there's just no sustainability.

I don't know of the situation in Spain but if one looks at attendance at SY centers and C&M groups around much of the rest of the SY world, certainly in the English-speaking world of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, and also Japan and other parts of Europe outside of Spain, clearly it is down, WAY down from what it was even 3 or 4 years ago. I would say that The New Yorker, LSY, EXSY, The Guru Looked Good, and Rituals of Disenchantment, by revealing the hidden side of SY and providing (more or less, depending on the site) an open forum for people to discuss, debate, share experiences and thoughts, and most of all, REVEAL things...that deep damage to SY's sustainability has been done.

It won't fall apart overnight. But eventually, I see no other outcome. Perhaps not even until after GM's own natural lifespan concludes. But eventually. Even if she left a successor, how many would be left around to support her/him? And having lived and participated in SY through the succession from Muktananda to the two siblings and then the coup, I know that successions usually result in a great loss of participants. A great many of us who knew Baba simply could not transition to either of the two siblings and thus gave up any participation with the official organization.

One other thing to note: In SY Ashrams, Centers and C&M groups across the U.S., I've noticed that the average age of SY participants is getting older and older and older. There are precious few young people newly starting to get involved. Such trend in and of itself suggests that SYDA has a forecastable end to its viable lifespan. I would be interested to learn whether there are similar trends in other parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

Such trend in and of itself suggests that SYDA has a forecastable end to its viable lifespan.

---
If you are talking about SYDA Foundation, I 100% agree with you. However, if you are talking about SY in its broadest existence, I suggest you look at the organization Sw Nityananda (Jr) is creating, especially in India. Plenty of young folks. No reason not to leave a successor. All the promise of longevity.

Anonymous said...

Anon January 8, 8:28 AM: "I've noticed that the average age of SY participants is getting older and older and older."
Yes, the same is true for Spain and, probably, the number of participants also goes down, though a quite slow rate.

Anonymous said...

"IMO SY will not have a sudden end. Instead, it will gradually reach a point where its supporters have dwindled down to a point where there's just no sustainability."

***

Actually I disagree with this.

I see SY engaging in a plan to extend its lifespan by disembodying and idealizing the Guru into an imaginary force that operates from within the devotee, decentralizing its leadership, then identifying by careful winnowing a privileged class of ashram attendees who will be eager to serve the "mission" as its lay spokespersons.

I truly think SYDA is in it for the long haul and has a vision that extends well beyond the actual lifespan if its current figurehead.

A disembodied Blessed Virgin in a Holy Trinity constructed out of half facts and real fictions could be used to perpetuate a SY version of Roman Catholicism for generations to come.

If you know anything about how history functions, it's the stories that survive on record that claim to tell the truth about a religious or political movement.

SYDA seems to believe that in a few decades the undocumented, anonymous, mostly internet based (read: temporary) exSY movement will burn itself out. In the meanwhile, they'll keep developing their archived videos and DVDs, their books and CDs, their Correspondence Courses, and all the other paraphernalia that keep their movement alive.

If they use this "lean time" carefully and well they may believe they'll survive and thrive sometime down the road.

They could be right too.

K.

Anonymous said...

People often give me love songs for Christmas. This from Allison Krause and Robert Plant (led zep)CD, about the get a grammy I think. Some lyrics....


Somebody said they saw me, swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues.

Now I'm guilty of something ...
I hope you never do
Because there is nothing
Any sadder than losing yourself in love.

And then you've ask me ...just to leave you
To set out on my own
And get what I needed.
You want me to find what I've already had .

Somebody said they saw me, swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues.

end

Lotta double speak going on about motivations and behavior in SY. Love was game they played alright. No lie.

Love the Guru above every other thing. Put the Guru before God even. Love everyone as the Guru. Guru Guru Guru. SY totally guru centric.

Getting over it. Thanks all.

BTW, Kumuda, no one insulted you here, questions were legitimate to pose. Get the tail out between the legs and come back and dialogue. Drop the persecution thing. For gosh sakes, it's beneath you. :-)