Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neuroanatomy & Yoga


It's all in your head.

That's the idea I've been toying with for a while anyway -- that there's a neurological component to yoga, which thus far has not gotten the attention I think it deserves. I suspect that this is because so much of our metaphysical lexicon -- the vocabulary of yoga -- is rooted in the past.

Adopting a scientific approach to understanding our yogic development might promise more precision. For example, if I told a room full of new agers that I'd developed some conscious control over my muladhara chakra, I suspect we'd have a room full of people all with very different takes on what I'd meant by that statement.

The term is old and imprecise and not really susceptible to examination through evidence.

But if I told a room full of people that I'd developed some conscious control over my amygdelae, they'd have a fairly uniform understanding of what I'd meant (or they would after first checking its definition on Wikipedia!).

So, I think integrating scientific advances into our practice of yoga can only benefit us. It might also give us further insight into the paradox we've been discussing. In other words, perhaps there's a neurological explanation for how a person could be capable of both an exalted meditative state and sexual misconduct.

Before we go there, though, let's think about this idea more generally.

Some time ago, my practice included concentrating on the various chakras or subtle nerve centers, which are said to tie one's physical organism to the larger universal forces at play in the world. One day, while I was thus concentrating, it occurred to me that while I was concentrating on my heart chakra, the action was taking place in my brain.

To understand my point, consider the phenomena of phantom limbs.

Some small percentage of people who have a limb amputated report still feeling the presence of their lost limb. The feeling is real, but obviously the existence of the limb is not. What's going on?

As it turns out, the primary motor cortex -- that part of the human brain responsible for processing sensory and motor information -- maintains a neurological map of the individual's body. Though bizarre looking, neuroscientists have produced a visual representation of this mental map, which is called the cortical homunculus or the "little man" inside the brain.

So, while a person might lose her hand in an accident, the neural map within her primary motor cortex might remain out of sync or not updated. Thus, to her the mental image of her hand, along with all its associated feelings, still exists in a very real way. As I began to hear about some groundbreaking work being done by neurologist V. S. Ramachandran to ease "phantom pains" being experienced by amputees, it occurred to me that neurology might have some application to yoga as well.

What if -- even though we experience them in designated areas of the body -- the chakras are actually seated in the brain?

Through the use of magnetic resonance imaging technology, neuroscientists are beginning to map areas in the brain that appear to be associated with our entire subjective life. The nervous systems and sex drive, for example, appear to be strongly associated with the aforementioned amygdalae, small areas within the medial temporal lobes of the brain, which operate below the conscious radar most of the time.

Our more conscious emotions appear to be processed by the ventral prefrontal cortex. One study suggests that those people who engage in consciously accepting and labeling negative emotions tend to gain some control over the autonomously acting amygdalae. Sounds like neurological support for tantra.

Communication and creativity may be centered in the medial prefrontal cortex. See this article about the use of MRI scans on jazz musicians while they improvise.

Insight seems to be associated with the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus, as discussed in this article.

The "presence of God" -- at least for the nuns in one study -- activated some 12 areas of the brain, quite apart from the areas of the brain activated when experiencing more worldly emotions.

Now, obviously, I'm no scientist and I've grossly oversimplified an extremely complex and new field of scientific study and discovery. (Here's a link to a nice overview of this emerging field by David Brooks.) Nevertheless, I can't help thinking that there is some real value to modern yogis in thinking about these types of studies and their findings.

I suspect that, like the amputee experiencing the phantom limb phenomena, my subjective mystical experiences are rooted in my brain. When I feel a psychic flame reaching out from the center of my chest, the action itself is taking place inside my own head -- just as the images I see, the scents I smell, and the things I taste are all experienced in differing areas of the brain.

That said, I'm not proposing that we are our brains. As I've previously posted, I assume that consciousness precedes matter. But if the process of yoga is a physical one, then it seems to me there's a place for a more modern view of the seat of our consciousness -- our brains.

I think this idea also provides us with another way to think about Guru's paradoxical nature.

Whether it's actually true in Guru's case or not, it's at least conceivable -- neurologically anyway -- that a person could have ready access to "high" spiritual experiences and yet engage in unethical behavior. Particularly, if such traits are governed by different and distinct areas of the brain.

If, for example, a person's orbitofrontal cortex is compromised or undeveloped, then that person will likely exhibit disinhibition or a disregard for social conventions which can manifest in many ways.

Likewise, with damage to (or lack of development of) the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, one's ability to distinguish between right and wrong -- to think in moral terms -- may be compromised (here's an article from the Wall Street Journal on the subject).

That wouldn't mean, however, that such a person couldn't experience spiritual ecstasy in a completely different and distinct area of the brain.

Would it?

To my mind, everything must be learned. We're not born with a knowledge about human relations and how to maturely navigate our sexual desires and romantic feelings. Instead, they're skills that we must learn -- either from others or from our own trials and errors -- and practice.

Just like meditation.

It's entirely conceivable to me that Guru -- born as he was in the first half of the 20th Century, in India, orphaned, and raised in the strict confines of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram (the very model of our own Sri Chinmoy Center) -- never learned about sex, never learned how accept his natural desires, and never learned how to communicate his emotions in a healthy way.

That's why, I expect, he exploited the trust of some of his female disciples.

I'm not convinced, however, that his exalted meditations weren't just that: exalted.

Credit for the photo above goes here. I just stumbled upon this interesting two-year old article on Slate, which suggest how one might wire the brain for spiritual ecstasy.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Yogaloy,

Ugh, sorry about this, but:
Oh man, what a disappointment.

As I began to read the current entry, I thought, "finally! even though we have to slog through all that meandering preliminary neuro-physiology, we were going to finally, at last, after all the the outpourings here and elsewhere of speculative "exploration" on the guru, get to apply at least SOME of those same principles reciprocally (fairly?) to the possible perceptions, emotions, means and motivations of the women claiming sexual misconduct. Sadly, this was not the case as usual.

As far as I have seen in every venue, the claims of these women have never been given any examination at all, never subject to any scrutiny, nothing more than a wink and a nod, almost casual accepteance at face value, completely unquestioned assumption of their truth - because they said so! Because it "sounded" real, sounded true. That in contradistinction to all sorts of unending (some of it monumentally absurd) speculation on the assumed 'aberrant behavior' of the guru.

I think it is facile, naive, and even irresponsible to continue to ignore this very essential element which has largely or entirely been conveniently glossed over while focussing all on the 'big bad' guru.

How about if we apply some of the very same high-flown philosophical neuro-physiology, etc. to these womens' claims and their possible origins and motives?

What about phantom sexual misconduct? If a 'phantom duality' exists as a principle applicable to the guru, then certainly the same in theory could be explored regarding these women. Just a crazy idea, and perhaps an ironically sacrilegious very un-p.c. one, no doubt. I also think an exploration into possible conspiracy is in order as well, but that one is probably totally 'off the deep end' at this point for most disaffected followers.

Perhaps this is too far-out a concept for people who are still trying to figure out their own peculiar internal evolution as to why they "flew the coop" 1,10,20,30 years ago, but like they say - inquiring minds want to know, don't they? Or do they? And besides - here's another radical idea - it all could be related anyway.

Otherwise it might appear that despite appearances, you are merely rationalizing some foregone premise (ie "facts") in the pursuit of some "truth" - the same way one might support client privilege regardless of guilt or innocence. We know that is what the law does to a large extent as advocacy, but what does that have to do with a deeper revelation of Truth (Capital T)? You know, the one you are presumably looking for?

If you come back with, "I believe them and that's the way I'm going to pursue it", that's your prerogative, and I respect that, even if that -imo- leaves a gaping void regarding any 'unbiased' bigger picture. If that is the case, then I for one might require a bit more qualification in that vein, or at least less pretense in the area of 'dispassionate, detached' speculative and philosophical "examination", please.

If that is not the case (your positive disposition to the foregone premise), then please get on with it - the other side of the scales. Yes, I am challenging you to own up to 'the big elephant in the room' NOBODY seems to see or wants to talk about. I do realize its your blog and that means here, for all practical purposes, you ARE judge jury and executioner for a, even if others may enter pleas.

Sincerely,
Concerned Citizen

Y. said...

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Thanks for your comment and for the (almost) snark-free way in which you delivered it! There's, of course, no need to apologize.

I think your main point is, more or less, well-taken.

Though I expect it will not be entirely to your liking, I will accept your challenge and "own up to 'the big elephant in the room'" that nobody else seems to want to address, as you put it.

Why this should be my special burden -- rather than say the Center's (or yours "CC") -- is not entirely clear.

But I suppose since I've put myself out there as one of the only former disciples (if not the only one) to openly address these issues (outside the ex-disciple Yahoo! message board), then I guess I should shoulder the burden of your challenge.

I'll address the subject of women making false claims of sexual misconduct in my next post. Jebus! (Google it.) Just when I thought I was about to finish up the blog again, I've got another post to write! ; )

Before I write that next post, though, let me first address some of the other minor issues brought up by your post.

First -- you didn't like the neuro-physiology stuff?? Man, you cut me real deep, CC. I'd rank this as one of my better posts since I reopened the blog (granted, not saying much). Cool picture, fairly lucid prose, not too long or short, and most importantly (whether I effectively conveyed them or not) some interesting ideas at least.

No? (Sigh.)

Second -- and more seriously -- let me assure you and my other readers that I have no predetermined agenda or ulterior motive. I'm not sure how anyone who has read my entire memoir could possibly come away with that conclusion.

Bad writer. Check. Big ego and narcissistic. Check. Deluded. Certainly. Possessed by hostile forces. Perhaps. "Spiritually blind," as I've been referred to on the Yahoo! board. Sure.

But insincere?

I'm sure I'm not doing it well, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could read the entire blog and come away with the impression that I'm not really trying to grapple with the Truth.

I may be doing it badly, but I AM trying.

I acknowledge that you, CC, did not quite say that I'm being insincere, but you've suggested it as a possibility and, frankly, I've had a few other people who are unhappy with my blog say the same thing to me in private.

That's why I go on and on about the importance of not impugning one another's motives. You've written a serious, well thought out, articulate comment and I take it seriously.

I don't for a moment question your motives. In fact, I wish we didn't have to have this dialog online; I wish we could meet over coffee instead, face to face. I'd enjoy that immensely and I suspect you might, too.

Finally, an invitation. I've accepted your challenge CC (though it might take me a week to get to my next post judging by my output these days). I'd kindly invite you to email me privately (yogaloy@yahoo.com). Don't worry about me blogging your identity or disclosing our private dialog online. I'd never do that.

I do, however, very much appreciate your comment and would love to chat more.

Sincerely,

Y.

Charlie Rebich said...

Hi Yogaloy

You may not remember me. My name in the Centre was Chitvan but I came to the Centre after you left so I didn't really know you. I knew Nirbachita and Jeevan quite well and considered them good friends, I still do. I also knew Suchatula quite well. We all spent a lot of years together in the San Francisco Centre and I considered Suchatula a good friend even though we were of course limited in the amount of interaction we had.

I am writing to you and wanting to share this because a few weeks ago I talked with Suchatula on the phone and she told me the whole story of her sexual abuse in the Centre. I of course was really shocked. When I was in the Centre I never saw or experienced anything like that. I had heard some rumors but mostly they were from long ago or by people who I thought were pretty flaky to begin with so I never gave them a lot of weight. I gave Sri Chinmoy the benefit of the doubt. After talking with Suchatula though I can't do that anymore. Soon after talking on the phone I met her in person because I wanted to hear it all from her in person and to offer her support, because as a lot of people know leaving the Centre under any circumstances where you questioned Guru means that you are totally cut off. Its been really hard on Suchatula.

After talking with her on the phone and in person I have to say I believe her story. I know her well enough to believe she isn't lying or making any of it up. She has no axe to grind and has nothing to gain by making any accusations. She's not seeking revenge on Sri Chinmoy and is just very couragously trying to put her life back together and to move on with her life. I really respect her a lot the way she has handled it all.

Like you, I too have been trying to put it together in my mind how someone who obviously had some kind of spiritual power, whatever you want to call it, could also be sexually abusive, hypocritical and deceitful. I'm not sure I have a good answer but I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

First, I want to honor my experience in the Centre. I had some really amazing experiences there and with Sri Chinmoy. I had meditative experiences with him of pure, unconditional love and I had the experience of briefly seeing beyond the veils of the ego. I will always feel gratitude towards Sri Chinmoy for all those great experiences I had with him, always, despite his terrible faults and short-comings.

At the same time, I also had some not so great experiences in the Centre. Over the years I spent there, it felt to me that the Centre became less and less about the disciples reaching spiritual liberation and more and more about just following him, the Guru. It became more about obedience and faith in him and less about the disciples own spiritual exploration. That is my opinion anyway. I know people have other opinions and I honor that. My declining faith in him was the main reason I left and I was totally cut off. When I left there were some sexual rumors about him and there were stories on the internet but like I said, at that point I gave him the benefit of the doubt on those matters.

more...

Charlie Rebich said...

...Today my thoughts about Sri Chinmoy's spiritual attainment are this, I believe he had attained some kind of higher states of spiritual awareness but whether he was really "enlightened" or not, I doubt it, but no one can really know. Ironically, I remember Sri Chinmoy himself warned of other Gurus who had gotten really close to full liberation and then gotten trapped at the very end by their egos and then became really dangerous. The ego that believes it is enlightened can be a very dangerous thing. Maybe this is what happened to him.

The feel the most important thing to remember is that all of our spiritual experiences in the Centre were real! They were OUR experiences regardless of who Sri Chinmoy was or wasn't. I think the greatest thing a Guru does is offer us a mirror to see the spirituality within ourselves. I believe it was our faith in Sri Chinmoy that allowed us to experience the divine, our faith in him because it was probably easier for us to have faith in Sri Chinmoy than in ourselves. We, meaning you and me and most people, have so much self doubt and so many self-limiting beliefs that it is hard to get past them to see beyond the ego. It is easier to put our faith in someone else, like Guru, easier to project our own spirituality onto something external. I believe a good spiritual teacher mirrors our own spirituality and then hands back to us the mirror and says it was yours all along. A bad spiritual teacher keeps the mirror and says its me, me, me. I'm afraid that perhaps Sri Chinmoy falls more on that side.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful. It has helped me clarify my own thoughts anyway. I really respect your blog Yogaloy and your honest inquiry into all this. It takes a lot of integrity and sincerity. I'll keep following your blog and look forward to more interesting discussions.

Peace and Love,
Charlie (Chitvan) Rebich

Y. said...

Hey Chitvan!

I think we may have met at one of the Sri Chinmoy Biathlons held at La Jolla Cove. I participated a few times while I was in law school. I have some vague recollection of meeting you there.

Thanks for your post.

As far as I'm concerned, you're preaching to the choir when it comes to Suchatula. Her courageous coming out changed everything for me (and for a lot of other people, too).

I suspect her example will lead some of our other sister disciples to come forward in the near future.

Thanks again for your kind words and I guess that means we can now become Facebook friends!

Peace.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

CC,

Exploring the notion of the "phantom misconduct" of those guru abused is so passe, and reeks of that guru mentality that women are the cause of all men's problems. Let's blame the women, cause that's what guru pounded into us. That's not to say any person accused doesn't deserve equal consideration. But those scales you were referring to, they are tipping with each passing day for those of us who bother to scratch the surface and ask questions. There is more info out there than is read on this blog. In fact, there is another woman out there, as a result of hearing Suchatula's story, who has admitted she also had sex with guru (although I don't know her identity and wouldn't post it here even if I did without her permission).

I'm just as guilty as you of not believing the women who have come forward. I held out for a good long time until it happened to someone whose character I knew before I joined the path. That's not to say that as teens we weren't wild and flawed. But as someone who pays way too much attention to human behavior (including my own) and the words people use, in all that time, I don't remember her flaws including lying (and I worked with her for 12 years, 6 days a week). And I've known/know some good liars. Of course this is not meant to convince you, as I'm sure it wouldn't, but encourage you to take up your own challenge.

You can attempt to prove this notion of phantom misconduct, but in order to do so, you might have to actually pick up the phone and call each one of the women who claimed guru had sex with them in order to explore your own claim. Are you motivated to do that? Or is it simply easier to hold fast to a belief and not make any effort, other than reading and relying on the tried and true "they didn't get enough attention while they were in the Centre" philosophy. Honestly, you sound well educated in your post. The blaming-the-women theory doesn't become the well-educated.

Personally, I don't really care what people believe or don't believe. I think what is truly important is keeping your sanity in this life. If keeping your sanity means belief at all cost, that's fine and perfect. If it means casting guru out of your life on his bum, fine and perfect. But I think it is wise to steer clear of tearing others down to support our own inner scaffolding.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting article, Yogaloy. And one very fitting of Aurobindo's attempt at synthesis of the spiritual and scientific worlds.

Science gives explanations about how things work in physical reality. It has the power to discriminate what actually is from what it appears to be. Our spiritual awareness provides the meaning our perceptions must have if our lives are to be enriched. Science and spirituality are companions.

Sometimes I wonder about the sort of spiritual service Chinmoy really offered. After all, what good is a spiritual high if it doesn't result in our becoming more mature and independent? Meditation should help people to develop a strong mind, so that they are capable of discrimination. Chinmoy wanted the opposite - mushy-mindedness. Makes people easier to control.

Some spiritual gurus make their followers feel good, a bit like if they had administered a drug. But what good is drug addiction in the end?

And this is the way that many seekers are tricked, sometimes for decades. Sad, but true.

Terra.

terraaustralis01@yahoo.com.au

Y. said...

Thanks Terra.

I'll push back a little though. While I agree with the spirit of what you say -- "[m]editation should help people develop a strong mind" -- I'm not sure I agree that that is, in fact, true.

For me -- and for those who seriously follow a bhakti or raja yoga path -- meditation is precisely about shutting down the mind in order to permit a more subtle, psychic or occult entity to peak through (one's soul if you prefer that term).

As I've suggested above, this action is probably taking place (or has a physical correlate) in the brain. So, in those terms, I'd hypothesize that the meditation that I was doing stressed shutting down -- almost anesthetizing -- those regions of the brain associated with reasoning, logic, and our typical day-to-day mental functions.

By doing so, one's consciousness -- the so-called witnessing intelligence -- may gain access to less accessible areas of the brain or higher mind functions. With pracitce -- and I suspect the growing of neural networks -- access to these areas of the brain becomes permanent.

For this reason, I think it's a mistake to short change the Center experience, which is always an easy target for its eccentricities.

I think if most (and I mean most, not all) former disciples are being candid -- and for some I think this is a real challenge considering the legitimate hard feelings they have towards Guru -- they will admit that by the time they left the Center they were better off than they were before joining the Center.

Guru -- either personally or through the rules and organization he set in place -- changed a lot of people for the better. Could the same result have been achieved a nicer, more pleasant way? Maybe. But that doesn't take away the progress that so many of us experienced.

If nothing else -- as the research you turned up suggests -- most of Guru's former disciples are now probably more independent minded than much of the rest of society.

It may have come painfully for some, but the gift of independence is huge.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yogaloy,

thanks for your response to my comments.

One crucial thing I have realised about meditation is that the state of mind is not the most important thing, it is the after-effects of the state of mind we want.

And this is where confusion was rife in the SCC, in my opinion. When we meditate, we do turn off our critical faculties. I believe that this allows a natural balance between left and right brain to establish.

But we don't want to live our lives in a trance! When I was talking about a strong mind, I was not talking about during meditation. Rather, it comes as an effect of meditation. We become courageous in distinguishing the real from the unreal by developing the capacity to think effectively.

Chinmoy sold mushy-mindedness as a spiritual virtue, not only in meditation, but in the ordinary consciousness.

Terra.

terraustralis01@yahoo.com.au

Y. said...

I think you and I are not too far apart on this, but I don't agree completely with what I'd call your closing editorial -- that Sri Chinmoy "sold mushy-mindedness as a spiritual virtue."

That doesn't ring true to me, but I wonder what others think about this (I don't want to hog the comment section)?

In short, I guess I'd say I reject what is only implicit in the statement (and maybe unintended by you, Terra), and that is the idea of Guru as a huckster or fraud

Whatever Guru was up to when it came to his meditations, concerts, art, books, et cetera, it was NOT fraud. He believed in himself and in what he was doing.

He may have been deluded -- I don't think I'd argue that either -- but he wasn't a huckster trying to sell something that he himself didn't believe in.

His biggest flaw was being emotionally cold, which I think broadly includes disregarding the emotional well being of some of his spiritual daughters in order to satisfy his sex drive.

That's a big flaw, but it's one shared by many (one might argue most) men who have the remarkable energetic drive to accomplish things in the world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Yogaloy,

I do feel that somewhere along the line Chinmoy began to believe in what he was doing. It's just too hard to keep up a conscious act for decades.

It probably helps to remember though that through many steps of incrementalism, a person can lose track of the early awareness they possessed, that it was initially an act. We probably all know of famous people who in real life morph slowly into their stage persona.

Young Madal gradually became the caricature: Sri Chinmoy. But it is clear that he invested a massive amount of effort into the enterprise. And you're right about his emotional distance being a cause for concern.

Terra

terraaustralis01@yahoo.com.au

Y. said...

Dear Gary,

I see that in your latest post to the Yahoo! message board (Oct. 23), you mention that you've submitted a comment that hasn't been published.

I'm sorry about that. But your comment hasn't reached my email inbox.

So far -- and this could always change -- I've posted every single comment submitted.

I have noticed one quirk of the Blogger comment system that is very frustrating and that is that if your comment goes over a certain number of characters, then it just disappears, without warning, when you hit "publish your comment." I myself have lost a couple of beauties that way.

So, first of all, copy the text of your comment before hitting "publish" just in case. Second, if you have a long comment, you can break it into two.

If it still isn't working, just email me directly and I'll post it (I did this for our friend Sam recently).

Finally, my general operating principle when it comes to comments is to stimulate further dialogue. I attempt to be hard on people's arguments, but not to impugn their motives. There are plenty of places on the Interwebs to resort to ad hominum attacks -- but this isn't one of them.

Sincerely,

Y.

Y. said...

Via the Yahoo!, Gary says:

"Hey Yogaloy,

Thanks for your note.

I really appreciate it.

Rather than go on and on, let's see if this goes through and then I'll try to
make the point that I made in the post that apparently didn't make it through to
you.

I'm sorry if I jumped the gun in accusing you of not wanting to publish my post,
since it might fall into the category of "harsh speech" that one of our
contibutors over on the mostly anti-Guru, ex-disciple site, has been going on
and on about recently.

In any event, I just call it as I see it, and it is NOT my intention to hurt
anybody, but simply to attempt to ferret out the truth concerning the man who
boldly claimed to be the Kalki Avatar of Hindu myth and tradition.

In any event, I am looking forward to dialoging a bit with you and reading more
carefully your obviously WELL thought out posts here on your VERY impressive
blogsite.

I think we are both in the same boat, and I'm not referring to the Golden Boat
either.

But rather the same boat in that I believe we both simply want to know the Truth
that will set us FREE of all ignorance and fear.

Highest regards,

Swadhin Gary (1970-1980)"

Y. said...

Gary,

Sorry, I don't know what's wrong, but I'm not receiving your posts.

I successfully ran a few tests, so the comment function seems to be working, but obviously it's not for you.

I hope others aren't having the same experience.

Anyway, thanks so much for the kind words (which I posted above). They mean a lot to me.

I'll try to do some more research this evening with Blogger to see if I can figure out what the malfunction is. I'll let you know if I find anything.

Thanks again.

Markus said...

I would like to agree with Yogaloy:
I do not think it is really true that Sri Chinmoy "sold mushy-mindedness as a spiritual virtue."

I think it is certainly true that most disciples (or many, I should say as I really didn't know "most disciples", much less their inner attitudes) interpreted it this way or acted as if they did.
My own attitudes about what a "master" does started to develop (before my involvement with the Sri Chinmoy Center) by reading Carlos Castaneda's books (all of them, many times) and--at least the way I saw it--his "master", Don Juan, (admittedly not an Indian Guru) behaved very much like a trickster and "magician" to him: His actions seemed to be geared entirely towards producing certain effects in his "disciple's" consciousness. At the same time he had no regard whatsoever as to how these actions might be perceived by the outside (ethical, non-ethical, dangerous, deceitful, etc.) Many times they were dangerous and risky.

So to bring it back to the above statement: Looking at the posts here from many that went through that experience, the eventual effect of our interactions and experience was the very opposite of a mushy mind. (Why that should be so...who knows?)

Yes, while in the center, many of us suppressed our mind and opinions--it was easier, and it would have been much too scary not to do so. But even then, I myself never felt my mind was becoming mushy. I DID however also fall into the belief that--on the outside--it seemed that this was, what was required.

Now I'm not so sure at all anymore. Could this have been a misinterpretation? Could all this apparent pressure actually have awakened much more strength in our spirits (and even minds)? Could this even have been part of a hidden purpose?

Now, to head off the obvious conclusion: Yes, I have thought about applying this same idea to some of the more shocking events discussed here. I do consider this as at least still possible. Nevertheless I certainly don't think of this as the only possibility and I sympathize with almost any position represented here. (even the angrier ones on both sides: There is always more clarity when emotions have calmed down but they are certainly understandable!)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for posting anonymously, but I'm still in the Center, at least for now, and don't want to get kicked out before I decide about my future.

Markus, well put; I do sympathize with many a position here, Y's foremost (at least in the sense that I also believe the abuse reports, and the many weaknesses of character of CKG, yet I cannot ignore the huge spiritual help I got from him, and that I'm still getting), but don't fully agree with any position so far. This is like trying to push a wrinkle from a rug that is not flat. I'm working on a theory of my own, that perhaps CKG's "soul" and his earthly persona were supremely out of tune with each other, or downright disconnected.

Or perhaps he was trying to elicit independent thinking from us?

Why has nobody explored this possibility yet, I wonder?
If it were true that he was Thomas Jefferson in his previous incarnation, he would obviously care for human rights, such as freedom of speech and association, and that people should not spy on each other on behalf of an authoritarian system; and yet life at the Center today is a flagrant violation of these very principles. You can't even talk to another disciple if the number of X and Y chromosomes don't match yours; and you can't "associate" with them either; you can't express your own opinion regarding how the centers should be run; and you can never trust another disciple to keep a discussion confidential. This is all so diametrically opposed to what Jefferson stood for that it can't be a coincidence, -it smacks me of a test.
And if I'm right, we all flunked it. We showed nothing but mushy-mindedness and cowardice; and perhaps his prediction that Jayanti would become his best disciple actually came to pass. You think an Avatar could lead Humanity into the new Yuga with the help of one or two thousand cowards? If I was him I'd sink the Golden Boat and try again from start.

But I'm probably wrong. I was reading a while ago someone related that when Guru was watching the impeachment of Nixon, he wondered aloud "why doesn't he fire them all? He's the president!" So, perhaps he never really was Jefferson... Hard to tell, because it could be just his physical mind that lacked intuitive understanding of Western values (and, why would it? Possibly his mission required possessing a dull mind?).

I know I'm going out on a few limbs, but after you try to iron a wrinkle out of a rug for years and it never works, you begin to work on a far out theory, such as the rug not being flat. Spiritual Relativity.

I was also a bit disappointed with this chapter, though for different reasons from those of the first poster, and I admit it's perhaps a matter of faith, or taste, or both. I *want* for there to be multiple planes of existence. Multiple "3D branes", in String Theory terms, with different types of matter and physical characteristics in each.
Thus, the subtle physical, with its chakras, could be, say, 1 mm away from the gross physical brane (1 mm being the displacement along a 4th dimension of space, which C W Leadbetter described as the "inner/outer" or "subject/object" direction).
It is quite possible, I admit, that all those visions and planes and whatever are taking place in a couple of pounds of gray stuff; I just hope they aren't, and I hope to one of these days open Ajna and manage to prove it somehow, at least to myself.