Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things Have Changed

Since December 2001, when I first read Sevika's allegations of sexual misconduct by Guru, I assumed the allegations were true.

Perhaps it was my young legal mind at work, but I knew that if I could come to grips with the possibility that Guru had been having sex -- with his disciples no less -- then I would be better able to conduct the kind of sober, long-term analysis that I had thought would eventually be necessary.

It's that process -- the way in which I tried to reach an accommodation in my own mind between the Guru I had known and experienced and the very different Guru described by a handful of female disciples -- that I had originally wanted to explore with this memoir.

The little discussion there is online about Guru seemed (and still seems) so partisan. Nothing I had read expressed the more nuanced, more complicated, understanding of Guru that I (and perhaps a few others) had come to.

Everything was black and white -- I was looking for the more realistic shades of gray.

As I first began to outline this memoir, I had planned on writing a single post describing the importance of loyalty and gratitude, followed by perhaps a half-dozen posts exploring the implications of the hypothetical worst case scenario and asking "what if."

I suppose I wanted to have my cake and eat it, too. In my grandiose way, I wanted to bridge the gap between the most devoted disciples still in the Center and the most hard boiled cynics. When it came down to it, though, I couldn't do it.

I wrote the "loyalty" post, but could go no further.

I think I best expressed the conundrum I was feeling then in an email to a former disciple friend of mine, to whom I turn for advice and clear thinking from time to time:

Boy, was it a struggle thinking about how to approach this subject. Months and months ago, I envisioned a complete expose or multi-part essay -- perhaps five or six posts covering the allegations of sexual impropriety.

Then, as I responded to you just a week or so ago, I thought I'd whittled it down to just two, snappy posts. But after writing the first one -- in essence about loyalty -- I've now found it impossible to post the second one (the one exploring the "what if" question and assuming that the allegations were true).

It seemed incongruous to me to say I'm loyal to Guru in one post, and then in the next post to assume the allegations true and discuss. Do you understand and think I'm right about that?

I do have lots to say, and going through the process of assuming the allegations true did lead me to a stronger sense of spiritual self-confidence, but I don't see how I get around my loyalty post.

I guess I've resigned myself to one of the principles I've discovered in writing this blog, which is that I don't have to share everything. Thus, while a particular process has been beneficial to me, that doesn't mean I necessarily have to blog about it.

Anyway, I thought I owed you some kind of explanation because I had just told you that I had planned two posts on the subject, and then just posted one.

As I wrote, I had resigned myself to posting no more on this subject. Then things changed.

Shortly after I wrote the email above, my sister Nirbachita came to live with us here in San Diego. She had been living with Pinak in Puerto Rico. Within a few days, she got a call from an old friend and disciple named Suchatula.

Suchatula and Nirbachita had gone to high school together and joined the Center together. They were close, but as time wore on, they grew apart as my sister slowly drifted away from the Center. So, Suchatula's phone call was a bit of a surprise. When it was over, Nirbachita was convinced that "something" was up.

Over the next few weeks, Suchatula unburdened herself of her sad and shocking story. She authorized Nirbachita to post her story, but to do so anonymously.

Suchatula has since courageously embraced her story.

I believe every word of it, without reservation.

The picture above is of Guru and Suchatula on her 25th birthday.

9 comments:

Justin said...

Dear Y,

I never met you, but when I was in the center I heard a lot about you. I knew your brother and sister well, working with both of them in S.F. before they took off for Santa Cruz. I think your sister makes a passing mention of me in her blog. I was the delivery boy who sold the neatloaf recipe to a stripper. The irony (forgive the digression) is that particular act weighed on my conscience for years. I felt that I was weak and unspiritual and there was the proof. Recently I amended that act as best I could with the restaurant and heard mention of your sister's blog, which eventually brought me to yours.

First let me say "thank you" for having the courage to publicly work through and try to make some sense, or make some kind of objective analysis, of the events that have come to light. If I did not know some of the people involved I would not believe any of this. But knowing them as I did, and trusting my own intuition, I find myself running the gambit of emotional responses.

My personal experience of the center and CKG was nothing but positive and the respect and admiration that I have for the remarkable people I met there is nothing less than the highest. Being in shock and frustrated my mind tries to find consolation in spiritual philosophy, a place that suddenly has new pitfalls associated with it. But I can't help feeling that through this, somehow, a stronger sense of truth will arise. Do not get me wrong! I am in no way trying to rationalize away the pain of others and what they have suffered and wrap it up in a neat philosophically pithy saying. I just feel that all too often the messenger and the message have been related to as one with disastrous consequences. And I agree that this isn't black-and-white, I had too many spiritual experiences that I cannot dismiss for me to simply switch to a completely negative viewpoint. Life is way more complicated. And so must be how we deal with this.

Sorry for the long and not too coherently organized comment. The whole gist of this was to simply acknowledge that I am grateful that you are publicly attempting to come to grips with this is some kind of objective way.

It's the 27th of August, and the moon is still beautiful.

-Justin

Celia said...

Thank you for your post.
I know it is very difficult to face an ugly truth.
It is much easier to look away and let things remain as they were. It is not my intent to hurt anyone. Not Sri Chinmoy nor his centre. I have told the truth not out of anger or spite but because it is the truth. I loved my teacher, I loved the centre and I loved my spiritual life. I was a disciple for twenty two years. The centre was my entire life. It was very painful to walk away from my spiritual family. My love and devotion for Guru was shattered when he asked me to have sex with a women. I tried for two years to rekindle my love and devotion but in that effort I failed. In my heart could no longer connect the Guru I knew with the one he became. It is a very sad experience that left a gaping hole inside of me. I do not regret my life in the centre. My spiritual life made me the better person I am today. Those who know me well know that I would never fabricate a story like this for my own self interest. They know I am telling the truth. Those who do not know me will think whatever they wish to think. It is absured for all those who were "close" to Guru to think that they actually knew EVERYTHING about him. Why he did all that he had done no one will ever truly know. Why he asked of me what he did I do not know. I just know that for me it did not work and if he truly knew me then he would never have asked me to do such a thing.

Again I thank you for your post and for your belief in the truth.
Celia ( Suchatula)

Samuel Bradshaw said...

Yogaloy, I think the photo sums up this great tragedy. You can see the dynamics at play and not much needs to be said.

Thank you Suchatula for putting a face to the story. It will help many people process this trauma and better deal with their past (I hope). Yogaloy, thank you for posting this picture from the past.

When you contrast what happened and focus on the discipline/Guru relationship in the photo -- then you realize what an ethical breach of trust that you have going on there. It is a deep violation of basic morality and can only hurt the person who is in the unfortunate position of believing that the Guru was "God/Christ/etc". Imagine how defenseless that mindset is. With little to no emotional boundaries the possibilities of psychological and emotional damage are there. Think about all the mindless chants and lectures about obedience, surrender, etc.

What a sad situation. I can understand why some people get outraged and I think we should respect people as they transition through this phase. It is natural to feel outraged. We must welcome each stage of emotion, embrace what comes with it and move past that stage into the next one (if we want to move on). The journey will be different for each and every person. Hopefully, we can end up in a place where we can again look back fondly at the good memories, good people, and the positive aspects of the center (but with clarity of mind and use of our critical mind).

For me the single greatest challenge has been to establish "critical thought" which is the basis for all western science and also plays a big role is psychology and understanding our emotional reality. This is an aspect of our mind which is a neutral "tool" - it can be used for any purpose - yet "critical thought" was something that was made out to be incredibly negative in the center (you can draw your own conclusions as to why). Hopefully we can look back at the center and understand our time there in a new light (both positive and negative).

Best rgds,
Sam

vindicreated vision said...

Celia/Suchatula,

you are very brave and I admire your candidness and sense of social responsibility. I believe that this information is a truth that everyone will have to come to grips with in their own way, whether they choose to stay in the centre or not.

In another post, you wrote
'Every human being is different. Just because we may have witnessed the same event does not mean that we will have seen it in the same way. I have had the same experience as some of my close friends. To me it was a horrific revelation of what secrets have been kept in the centre. To them it was a beautiful enlightening experience. Who can argue. To each his own.' Very true statement.

The qualities of obedience and surrender, which you did/do possess, are valuable. To me, it means 'I can be happy inside your happiness'. I hope you can nurture those qualities, despite your unfortunate circumstances in the centre.

@Sam
One of the interesting things is the dichotomy that although the mind wasn't openly encouraged, it was absolutely necessary in performing many of the tasks asked of disciples. Yes, even critical thinking. How do you give the best classes? How do you perform the best plays? And so on. But, I understand that most didn't or were not put in a position that deemed it necessary. The more you look inside the writings, the more you see the black and white facade disappear.

How many times did I hear CKG say 'anyone who isn't happy, please leave the centre' yet at the same time, on fewer occasions, speak of divine retribution?

Anyway, this post has gotten long enough.

Anonymous said...

No body is entertaining the idea that 1: its total bullshit or maybe Ckg had in mind some kind of divine test.....god know what goes on inside the mind of an Avatar.
Whilst on the path i came across many false people, people claiming to be the divine mother, people acting like they where the second coming etc etc....there is always the that the claims are total bullshit.
Eamon

Anonymous said...

‘Guru is a saint,’ but we wants Him to be careful...

vindicreated vision said...

Hey Eamon, I think its best not to dismiss any possibility. Simply put everything out on the table.

James said...

I firstly want to commend you on your blog. Im sure that it has turned into more than you bargained for and I admire the fact that you have continued with it to this point. I certainly feel that it has been a service for people who want to understand the center better and sift through their own experiences.
I have read some of the comments and also some of your thoughts on making sense of the seemingly unreconcilable understandings that existed within the center and CKG. I think ockham’s razor comes in handy in dealing with a lot of the questions that have been thrown up. The essence of is more likely simple and mundane, rather than mystical and unintuitive. For the sake of a well rounded account, I think that it is interesting to explore the idea of who is Ckg and what spiritual knowledge he did have, but I feel that they must be referenced clearly at some point against the apparent facts. By apparent facts, I mean Suchatula’s account, which I do believe is true. Its clear that Ckg’s actions are not those of God and divinity, and that he has misrepresented himself to his disciples in this regard.There was an analogy used some time back about the center being like a school and that everybody’s experience is different and equally valid. If the Principal of that school was sexually abusing the students, we wouldn’t regard it as a good school to send our kids. We wouldn’t send our daughters there if we knew what was going on.
There seems to be a tendency by some to get bogged down in complex and assumptive theories with regards to explaining the enigma of CKG. I think that there is a danger here of crediting CKG to much for our own spiritual experiences. Perhaps if he cared so much about his disciples spiritual progress he would not have taken advantage of them in the way he did.
Secondly, I worked with Suchatula for 3 years in San Francisco, and from that time I held a very high opinion of her. She was very dedicated to the center and also to the Divine Enterprise where she worked, and was an inspiration to the rest of us. So when I heard her account of what happened I was very shocked, to put it lightly. So I want to express my support for her, in courageously revealing this painful story publicly, and I hope things come together for her in a big way in this new chapter of her life.
Keep up the good work!
James

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Justin,

So funny to read your comment. I have been thinking a ton of you these last few weeks. Where are you? And what have you been up to?

I hope you didn't feel bad about that Neatloaf post I did--I can't remember what I said now. That story has always cracked me up, especially how that recipe was guarded. Man were we hard on ourselves, or what?

Man what I would give to have some of those old baking recipes again.

Anyway, drop me a line if you want. Would love to catch up and hear what you've been up to!