Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soliciting Topics

Like most bloggers, I utilize a service to let me know how much traffic my blog generates.

The service I use -- Statcounter.com -- is great and free, but it doesn't tell me personal information about you, per se. It does tell me -- based on your IP address -- where in the world you (or your computer anyway) resides. And that's how the map above was produced.

This type of map is nothing new to most of us who surf the net regularly, but it's still pretty cool to look at. Since most of my readers are current and former disciples (I suspect), the worldwide scope of my readership says more about the scope of Guru's reach when he was alive than it does about my popularity.

In any event, it's inspired me to reach out to you all to solicit ideas about where the blog goes from here. What topic or topics do you think still need to be addressed?

At the moment, the only remaining topic(s) I'm inspired to write about concern the role of women in the modern yoga movement and my hopes for my sister disciples in the future.

I also probably won't be able to constrain myself from giving the Center, as an organization, some more unsolicited advice and ideas about how it might address the huge challenges it now faces. Organizations face these challenges -- i.e., allegations of wrongdoing -- all the time and there are ways to do it.

But it takes leadership. So, perhaps I can give those who have the Center's best interests at heart some ideas about how to step up.

I know there must be some other topics of interest to those of my loyal readers (you both know who you are!). So, please use the comment function below or email me privately and let me know what ideas you have and what topics you'd like me to write about.


Anonymous said...

Divine Love.

This is a MAJOR topic for me, especially now, since I am about to embark on the adventure of my life.
Let me be clear here:
Guru and the Centre has, up til now, has most CERTAINLY been the greatest adventure I have ever had in my life, and actually, in a way, this new adventure that I am about to emark on, is really and truly a continuation of the process that was started when I literally fell in love with Guru and tasted the true ambrosia and REAL nectar-delight of the indescribable sweetness of divine love.

Gary, formerly known as Swadhin.

(I'm publishing this as "Anonymous" b/c my TRUE identity, dukeofdharma, somehow doesn't get me through. Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Pushpit*a says...
"Oneness in Diversity".
Could be an appropriate follow up on our different outlooks.(?)
Covers and considers all and sundry. And even the politics of the world and the politics of Spiritual Paths. It considers the tiny spark we all have within us and the momentous chasm of our separate lives.
(I consider myself Hindu, with a Muslim husband, living in a world of unconscious (and some conscious) Christians...we all have two eyes but see so differently.)
..."Divine Love" is cool too :)
Thanks for your Unique Self.

Markus said...

"What is a Spiritual Master really?"

Of course, in many ways this is one of the central themes already explored here.
Also, I don't mean it in a sense that we can ever find the one truth about this but more in the sense of exploring attitudes towards the question that are helpful--along the line of Jeevan's post.

For myself, since reading so many posts here, and for the first time thinking about all this very specifically, related to my experiences in the Sri Chinmoy Center (and in light of new revelations)--there is a big complex of ideas swirling in my head that I want to get out. It seems it is going to take some real effort to find a way to convey them properly. (There are some beginnings in my posts)--maybe I have to create my own blog...but I think I'd like to post it here first. Might just take a while to make what's relatively clear in my head, intelligible to someone else.

vindicreated vision said...

Hey markus, would love to hear what you have to say. I think Yogaloy has done a great job with his blog and I know that you are a smart and sensible individual as well.

Y. said...

"Divine Love," "Oneness in Diversity," and "What is a Spiritual Master?"!!

Wow. I asked for it, didn't I?

Cool. Thanks for your responses. I've received a couple via email, too. This has been very helpful and hopefully a few more people will chime in.

@Markus: First, teach me how to hotlink in a post! You not only linked to something, but you linked to another post. I'm gonna have to start experimenting with simple HTML, I guess.

Second, thanks for posting. I love your comments thus far! And yes, I'd definitely encourage you to start a blog -- but until you do, please keep commenting here.

Thanks all.

Lynn said...

Hi Y, in your blog you say that you accept as truth Chinmoys sexual abuse of some of his women followers, "yet, I owe everything to guru". Do you think that this could be part of the emotional programming that these kind of high intensity cults use (and I am not saying that Chinmoy followed some kind of manual, but, was an innate part of his sociopathic, narcisistic personality). I believe that Chinmoy took much more than he gave on the emotional and psychic level, a bit of a vampire that way, and I know the intensity of his presence having worked in the blue house most days the last few years I was there. In the end when he sat there trying to scare me into submission by threatening my life, and when he saw that wasn't working he threatened the life of my best friend if I didn't submit, I knew he couldn't hurt me and that I was stronger than him because I would never resort to such immoral behavior, and at that moment I was free.
Let's start taking responsibility for all our experiences, good and bad, and stop giving our power away to people like Chinmoy who are all too willing to take credit for our own hard won journey. Lynn

Y. said...

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for your post.

Well, that's the thing. My experience in the Center was so different from yours (or the other women who were mistreated).

Guru as an energetic vampire? I can understand that viewpoint by identifying with you and the others, but that is not the experience I had.

Guru took nothing from me, except all the energetic crap I threw at him during my meditations. He was eminently kind to me and if I'm being honest -- and I strive to be -- I have to admit that he facilitated a positive occult change in my psyche.

Could this feeling on my part be some kind of programming remnant from my days in the Center?


I mean, first, I don't believe in "programming" as any kind of special concept as it's applied to cults. I think it's a more modern synonym for the cold war term "brainwashing" which was finally laid to rest at the Patty Hearst trial as junk science.

And, if I'm being brutally frank, I'm just too on my game for that. My resume, post Center, has been just too rooted in the material world, doing things that have required hard thinking, hard analysis. The idea that I'm still under some kind of spell -- no.

I've got lots of serious problems. Ignorance. Yes. Self-delusion. No.

I told Guru to his face, on more than one occasion, things he didn't want to hear -- including that I was leaving the Center. I was never under his spell like so many disciples in the first place.

When I say I owe everything to Guru, I'm showing my gratitude. Unlike many of our brothers and sisters, I remember where I was as a young teenager (the highlights of which make up the beginning of my memoir here). I would not be where I am today (decent sibling, husband, father) had I not joined the Center.

No matter how badly he treated you or the others, Guru changed my life for the better. I did my part, no doubt, but I couldn't have changed for the better as I did without Guru's help. (Including, ironically, how difficult he made it to leave, which is a theme I've mentioned a few times in the blog and perhaps deserves a dedicated post.)

Whatever power I give away in honestly acknowledging Guru's positive role in my development, I can afford.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

I'd like more on how not to throw the baby out with the bath water--spirituality speaking.

I'm also kind of interested in thoughts on narcissism as it relates to guru and the disciples.

Love to hear Markus's thoughts, if that is indeed Markus from San Francisco. If so, HI MARKUS! If it's not SF Markus, I'd still like to hear those thoughts.

I guess I'm really into the psychology of it all, mostly to figure my own out.

Anonymous said...

Re: How Not To Toss The Baby Out With The Bathwater.

Once I examined why I came to the Centre in the first place, which was nothing more, nothing less than to "realize God in this very lifetime," as Ramakrishna admonishes those who have ears to do, then there was NO question that I would continue my SPIRITUAL journey, apres Guru and the Centre.

To think that the Sri Chinmoy Centre is the end all and be all of spiritual seeking is more than a little naive, to say the least, eventhough at one point I CERTAINLY bought into that class True Believer attitude.

Life, especially spiritual life, goes on LONG after one's Centre days are through.

And in fact, in my experience, at least, it's getting better all the time, and that ain't just a song by the Beatles, either.

Swadhin, aka Gary, Duke of Dharma.

Markus said...

@ Elizabeth: Yup, that's me: Markus from San Francisco. (moved to Napa a couple years ago. Bought a house at the height of the housing prices :( but I LOVE Napa!)

Hi Elizabeth! Great to hear from you too!

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Hey Markus! I'm jealous you are living in Napa. Shoot me an email at elizabeth_kracht@yahoo.com sometime. I'd love to hear what you've been up to these last few. I hope things are going well for you there!

Eliza said...

Some topics I’d love to see, or see more of here (and just some random questions I have):

Were we, or were we not in a cult (or have we answered that question and I’m the only one in denial)?
Did any of this misconduct go on in the Aurobindo ashram? I mean, did CKG just invent this stuff as he went along or did he learn it from somewhere?
Second vote behind Elizabeth on the psychologically-rooted aspects: why we followed and sought attention from an emotionally unavailable narcissist, what CKG’s psychological issues might have been given his upbringing (early loss of his mother, being raised in the Aurobindo ashram, did he have a healthy childhood), how we all might recover from having our deep spiritual faith shaken to the core and restructure or beliefs/regain trust in spiritual teachers or teachings.
More exploration around the brain’s relationship with spiritual experience/spiritual belief – like for example the link between spiritual experience and epilepsy.
What about the integration of sexuality in a spiritual practice – like the Tibetan Dakini’s? I think quite a bit about the Shakti aspect of all this and what CKG might have been after besides the obvious.
Lastly, would love more entries on Anandamayi Ma (and more great picts . . . love her).

PS - If you haven't seen this TED talk, I think you might find it interesting. Diane Benscoter is an ex-disciple of a different group also trying to make sense of what happened to her brain . . . and ends up landing on some rather thought-provoking conclusions about humanity. Very moving . . . http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ex_moonie_diane_benscoter_how_cults_think.html

Y. said...

Hi Eliza!

Thanks for posting!

Ugh ... always hated that word ("cult"). I always accepted the archaic definition, which I remember as being something like a small or new religion. But at some point, I just accepted the more modern and pejorative definition, which is basically any small religion not acceptable to the majority.

You've raised lots of good ideas, and especially thought provoking is the link to Diane Benscoter's talk. Provocative indeed.

First, of course, as I posted somewhere (probably my post on Pulin), I hope there's a special place in hell for deprogrammers. I really think they are about as bad as you can get: fanatical, pseudoscientists using physical force against people -- like Pulin and Akuli -- who decided to do something their parents didn't like (and doing it for profit, of course).

Nice to see that at least some of them are arrested and serve time.

That aside, her talk made me want to ask whether there is no place for the Eastern approach of disciple and master? Are the Moonies really comparable to Jim Jones' group or to suicide bombers?

I think it's a pretty thin argument.

Also, as she spoke, it seemed to me that she was very passive and not really looking for inner experience, but for an outer cause. Did you get that?

In other words, when I joined the path, I was a very engaged in the process and was basically doing some comparison shopping as I looked for a guru. Ms. Benscoter seemed much more passive.

In the end, though, it seems she's found some balance.

Love TED!

vindicreated vision said...

Saw the TED video. Not impressed, forgive me for sounding insulting, but I think her critical thinking skills might still be sleeping. It seems that she replaced one set of easy answers with another.

Her comparison of Nazi germany and Moonies was ridiculous as well.

I had a long talk with a uni professor of philosophy about the existence of an ultimate good. To me, the one thing we all value as human beings, is life and quality of life. Whatever we do to progress in those areas can be called good. Hence the endless arguments of war, abortion, etc.

If we take that into account, as our base principle, it would help steer us from 'harmful cults'.

Eliza said...

Interesting comments about the video - particularly that your responses focus on her argument as a rhetorical act. I recommended the video not for its rhetoric, which matters little to me beyond the fascinating concept of a mimetic virus, but rather for the rather raw (and might I say brave in a TED context) display of emotion by this women struggling to make sense of our innate human talent for following people or ideas that don't turn out to be what they appear. But yes Y. to your point, she is definitely on the hunt for a cause.

Y. said...

Sorry, you're right, of course, Eliza.

I did notice right from the start how emotional Ms. Benscoter is in the video. I guess the emotions the rest of her talk evoked in me just drowned out this important point.

She lets it all hang out -- including her mugshot -- in a very public way. Very brave and something to be commended (rather than dumped on by me). I plead the over-caffeinated defense (lesser known cousin to the infamous Twinkie defense).

Kalyan said...

Hi Yogalloy,
I would like to suggest a few topics:
Lessons learned - both good and bad. what are the things we can take away to help us in our quest, and what are the blind spots in our nature that we need to be hyper aware of?
Community - even in the center, the sense of community is dimminishing, and this as much as anything kept me aspiring the litle I did in my final years in the centre. How do we develop or find a community of like minded souls.
Practice - eventual it comes down to divine grace, but there are things we can do to prepare for the decent - what are we doing that brings us joy and oneness?

Anonymous said...

Hi Yogaloy,

I have enjoyed your blog tremendously, reading whole sections sequentially or jumping to topics/people that interest me. I am posting anonymously in this public forum because I have family members still in the Center but we have e-mailed with each other recently. I grew up in the center and have struggled/thought a lot about the center "family" versus the outside world. Perhaps because of my childhood in the center, the family nature of the group was always a very positive experience for me. I grew up with loving parents and hundreds of aunts and uncles who enjoyed playing with me, teaching me (art, science, culture) and just being with me. However, at the same time I and my family were encouraged to separate ourselves from our blood relatives--an act that has had a lasting personal effect, especially after leaving the center. Finally, the "family" ties that develop within the center are painfully cut when one leaves.

So I guess I am wondering how family--spiritual and emotional--fits into your (and others) ideas of spirituality? If my reading is correct, your and others experiences of spirituality are as very personal and singular events. Yet, much of this blog is devoted to the amazing personal relationships you had with people in/out of the center. Where does family "fit in"?