Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Instructive Example

It's not a perfect example.

The cancer eating away at the Catholic Church isn't the same as that corroding the Center. But it's instructive.

Particularly in how the organization is now cooperating -- perhaps reluctantly -- with independent investigators to bring the truth to light.

According to this New York Times article, after decades of turning a blind eye, the Vatican appointed a veteran clerical diplomat to address the scandal in Ireland.

An Irish governmental Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was then established and the Irish Archbishop then began to cooperate.

The full Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin can be found here.

The report is long, but it's worth a few minutes to scroll through the first section and skim through the commission's mandate and its broad findings, some of which seem particularly apropos to the situation now facing the Center's leadership.

Of particular interest is the organizational culture of secrecy, the active cover-up by leadership, and the fact that a brave few were willing to speak up.

The takeaway point is that here's an example of how a religious organization -- however late -- turned its attention to its own behavior.

Painful as it is -- embarrassing as it is -- an open and honest inquiry conducted by uninterested, neutral investigators is the the only option for an organization facing this kind of rot from inside if it wants to have any sense of relevance to the outside world.

Credit for the image of the Clarsach or Irish Harp goes here.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not much point having an inquiry now that ckg is dead, how are you going to prove anything?

Anonymous said...

I'd been wondering lately about the Catholic Church and a comparison with the SC Centre. Why wouldn't it be important to investigate the alleged abuse in the Centre? It's invaluable to everyone to learn that no institution and no human being is infallible. One difference between the Catholic Church abuses and the Centre alleged abuses is the the higher incidence of child abuse because these abuses can be prosecuted and so we know about them. It's much clearer that there's a victim without power being abused by someone with power. When it comes to adults, it appears less clear-cut and there's sometimes less sympathy towards the victims.

An investigation would perhaps help all of us understand what has gone on in the Centre and help us understand about power and control.

A good book which looks at abuse in spiritual groups is "Captive Hearts, Captive Minds" by Madeleine Landau and Janja Lalich, written in 1994.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I think it sounds like a logical course of action for the Catholics - it is an enormous religion, with millions of followers. The scandals were threatening to distance their base of followers. However, they have no central charismatic figure who is supposedly beyond reproach. If they had found something on the pope, they could just de-frock him and go on.

Ultimately the Catholics have much more power over their leadership than exists in the Center.

If there is such an inquiry, CKG may be found to be corrupt for not following his own teachings. If CKG's realization were challenged by the findings, the Center would possibly just collapse. However, if ther's no such inquiry, they can just continue to deny the allegations. Some will leave and some will stay on, continuing the group.

I think that, if an inquiry were the safe route, CKG would have done it himself to clear his name while he was here.

Scooter

Patricia said...

Anonymous #1 said, "Not much point having an inquiry now that ckg is dead, how are you going to prove anything?".
But do you think you would have been able to prove anything more if ckg was still alive???
The answer is no.

Maryanna said...

I am reminded of a story that my Taoist teacher told me that Occultists are a dime a dozen in Indonesia where he studied and that people need to be aware.

He gave the example of a Western woman in an elevator in a modern hotel. A strange man walks in and offers her a necklace. The next thing she knows she is having sex with this man in her room.

Anonymous said...

I think the inquiry idea is good. The point being to bring clarity to points of view on both sides: the claims of the women, and the denials of those in the group. An independent inquiry and a conclusion would be a step forward. The SCC has everything to gain as their point of view is that nothing happened or could have. That is a pretty confident positio they should bank on through the process of inquiry. And what an admirable way to smash the veneer of secrecy that has always been the SCC. It's a good idea to solve this mystery once and for all.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Cognitive Dissonance syndrome and the Denial coping mechanism is just too strong for True Believers like the Chinmoy "good boy" and "good girl" disciples.

Even if they saw actual videotaped footage of CKG engaging in "prana exchange" with one of his female devoted disciples or being "entertained" by two of his spiritual daughters, many of them STILL wouldn't believe it.

Their whole lives of spiritual FANTASY immediately go up in smoke.

No, the True Believer will FIND a way to believe in their "chosen ideal" no matter what.

Asi es la vida, as we say down here in Buenos Aires.

Hasta la vista.

Gary (Swadhin)

Stefan Bright said...

I am new to this site and happened to wander in through a google search. With all the exe disciple sites abounding, most of which tear ckg a new bum, this site has a ring of honesty and inclusion. Without condemning or pardoning, it's nice to see a dialogue which brings out the 'better' in us.

It's interesting to note that my friend Gary's posts on this blog have been civil and introspective; in contrast to the Arjuna character, with bow in hand ready to fire upon all who defies him. If you set the stage for righteousness than the characters who appear will play the role.

So, with that said, if the truth in the spiritual journey is the journey itself then all that had transpired at the center was for the experience of each journeyman/woman.

Where can one look for more hard and fast experience than at the feet of the guru? (pun intended.) We journeyed to the center, we journeyed through the center, we journeyed out of the center and now we are continuing our journey with all that lives in our psyche from emotional trauma and mental wear an tear.

This is the pain body and nothing, in a person carrying this baggage, can heal what the ego-mind wants to hold dear.

Who are these prophets that come to earth and anoint themselves god? How do those in power get there without our help. We are the makers of our own worse enemies. We, the needy species. We can't make it alone. We need the embrace of a lover, a community or a guru. With the veil of separateness cast upon us when we venture from the Souls realm to the physical we have lost Oneness. The ability to merge with all and every is beyond our reach in the human form. Yet with some work we can manage a glimpse of what Oneness has to offer.

In our hearts we are all one on this blog, but in our minds we need to find some singular acceptance. Some stroking as it were, yours truly included. This is the way of the present human condition. The ego drives us forward, closer to the abyss of aloneness.

As some of you may know I left the center with someone who I love and was able to share the pain of being cast out of Eden. Imagine the allegory of Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden. I think all of us who left under those auspices must have felt a little like Adam and Eve. Alone, afraid and unknowing.

Is this the god of mercy and love and compassion? Is there such a being or have we made him up to protect us from our darkest hour?

Chinmoy was in his own words a scoundrel. This was built into his DNA. He grew up in a land where poverty abounds and power and money are the exit visas. He found a way to get out. He was smart and alluring. He had passageway to the new world and a support system when he got here. All he had to do was follow the instructions he had learned so well at the feet of his guru. And he did it Masterfully.

At that time and space in our lives, we wanted a new path from the old. Our inner cry wanted to break out from the ordinary and move into the extraordinary. We found him, we made him and we got what we wanted. All of our time there, the inevitable end of our center career was unfolding its destiny. This was the plan all along. Our plan, each and every one who came and went, it was to be. The way in which it happened was different for all of us. Our awareness and acceptance while in the Souls realm allowed this to happen. It was the journey we had prescribed to.

So what now? We are older and wiser from the experience, but we still hold on to the past. Gripped tightly by the gnawing of failure in some way and freedom in another.

All we can do now is make no judgment. To sit back and glimpse the realm of Oneness and Allow, Accept and Appreciate.

We have plenty of journey left and we need all our strength to get through it.

Thanks for all of you.

In oneness,

Stefan

Anonymous said...

Please consider the broad range of seekers who come to any spiritual path; for certain many follow along like dumb sheep, others find shelter from traumatic past life experiences, space cadets, divine warriors, social climbers, survivors, givers, selfless souls, doubters, victims, fools, and yes – true believers. To seek is divine. All seekers are divine, IMHO to demean any sincere seeker is a cowardly act but hell, I don’t get all the big bad scary CULT bullshit I’m reading on these ex-disciple chat rooms either. Bring on the mind-control-freaks my brother, let’s duke it out. My favorite people are fanatics, I like cults – I believe it ALL – you dream it up and I’m for it! There is only one guru in billions of forms – this moment she is deep inside you and in the next moment manifest before you. Seriously, what is all the whimpering about?
Stephan who said he left the path because of LOVE is a divine hero in my book – to walk into the unknown because of love, truly awesome. So too is the true believer who can abide no doubt or distraction from their beliefs. EVERYONE is in this eternal boat together my friends - have faith in ourselves and do no harm to others!

Anonymous said...

Stephan wrote:

"As some of you may know I left the center with someone who I love and was able to share the pain of being cast out of Eden."

As I also left the center with someone I love, I would like to weigh in on Stephan's comment on "the pain of being cast out of Eden" because I think our experiences of leaving the center have much to do with our own attitude.

We had an interview with Guru before leaving in which he showed great compassion even if he was sad that we were leaving.

Because I took full responsibility for my decision and did not leave with any feeling of guilt - in spite of guilt being our Judeo/Christian heritage - I did not experience pain, shame or being ostracized. Could it be because I did not have an attitude of being a bad child but rather acted as a fully functioning adult who took responsibility for my decision? Just a thought...

Both of us knew that we would continue with our spiritual practice; we knew Guru's center guidelines before we joined and when we became involved with each other; we knew that we would greatly miss Guru's direct guidance but knew that inwardly, he would (and in fact DOES) guide us still.

I am in no way criticizing what Stephan said. I only want to say that we ex-disciples should not suggest that Guru is doing something wrong when it is we who chose to leave.

And yes, the center was a type of Eden. The practice of spirituality was sincere and the focus was one pointed.

For anyone to believe the claims of a handful of female disciples in light of Guru's exquisite contributions to this world is beyond amazing to me. I see more clearly why Sri Ramakrisna did not accept women as disciples and why in general it was considered that women were not fit for the spiritual life. I am sorry if this seems like the height of chauvinism but the attacks against Guru that started with Sevika whose husband left her for another girl disciple making her furious at Guru, is injustice at its height. Fortunately, Guru's offering to this earth will only grow in spite of a small number of ex-disciples relatively speaking who somehow did not find anything more interesting to do with their lives than create negative drum beats against Guru.

To those who are posting uplifting messages, I thank you.

I am posting anonymously because I wish to keep it simple and not in any way involve my family, especially the children as it seems that things are getting far out on this site.

Y. said...

Wow.

I'm afraid that third to last paragraph is going to obscure an otherwise very thoughtful and insightful comment.

So, before I "go there," let me first state that I think there's a lot of merit in the point about how you and your partner left the Center. I, too, ultimately left in a similar way -- that is I gave Guru my two weeks notice and I left with his blessing.

Now, you don't find the ever-growing number of women who have UN-ANONYMOUSLY made their allegations to be credible. That's your prerogative.

You go on, however, to write that you now see why Sri Ramakrishna did not accept women as disciples, suggesting, apparently, that it's because women are some lower life form, not yet up to the great height of men.

To the extent that you truly wonder whether your comment is "the height of chauvinism," let me clear that up for you. It is.

As you make so apparent with your post, the male members of our species have no special claim to "fitness for the spiritual life."

(You're, of course, factually wrong. Ramakrishna did accept women disciples.)

Anonymous said...

Yogaloy, you are right. I did get a bit hotheaded when I made the comment about understanding why Sri Ramakrishna did not accept female disciples. You are also correct that he did accept women though they did not spend the considerable amount of time in his presence as the men disciples did.

I definitely did not intend to imply that "woman were a lower life form, not yet up to the great height of men". Not at all! Women have so many characteristics that hold this world together: love,sympathy, compassion, intuition, strength...the list is truly endless. Men also have a treasure of invaluable traits that the world badly needs.

But some women, if angry at a man because he has disappointed her in some way, go to great lengths to "get even." In relationships, men of course can also act in this way
but it is more often seen in a woman's behavior due to the emotional makeup of women. This very emotional makeup when expressed in a positive manner is beneficial to the world. When expressed in a negative manner, it can be most destructive. I do think that is what is going on with the accusations against Guru.

So this is why I do not believe those making the accusations even if they give their names.

If any one who had contact with Guru would just stop for a moment and reflect on the beauty he offered through his music, his art, his poetry, his Lifting Up the World program and the countless expressions of divine Love he offered to the world at large, not to mention his disciples, I am sure there would be second thoughts on how true these allegations can be.

Your latest post, Nov. 29, The Anvil, is proof in point. It is so beautiful: it reads as though your soul is poking through with the truth when you say that Sri Chinmoy changed your life for the better and when you say that you experienced an exalted sense of being when with Guru. If anyone doubts that, they should look at photos of you: You should post one of you meditating from that time as it would more than prove that you were experiencing an exalted sense of being.

From being away from the center, I know how very easy it is to forget Guru's true divinity though I do not know how it is possible to forget it to such an extent as to believe these allegations.

You are an exceptionally beautiful soul Yogaloy. Don't let your years in the military (as I read in your blog here) nor your current occupation as a lawyer take you away from your soul and the truth of who Guru was and will forever be.

All Guru was trying to be was a sherpa to make our climb of Mt. Everest easier. We still have to make the climb. He was not trying to take that away from us.

And yes, you did play a part in your own divine experiences. One of the parts you played was to allow yourself to be receptive.

I am not wedded to any belief system but I am not foolish either. In other words, I am not going to throw away the deep, sublime and high experiences I had in the center that were inspired by Guru's divinity. Gratefully,I am still having them.

Y. said...

This is a tough forum for these types of conversations -- I understand that completely and have been hot headed myself (despite my "coffee shop rule").

I assume your good faith and thank you for your kind personal words. They mean a lot to me and now I feel a bit sheepish -- I expect we're friends, but you have me at a disadvantage (I don't know who you are!).

If you'd like to email me privately, off the record, please do so.

(I will say, I'm not sure you're completely off the hook on the "emotional women" comments -- but I'll let some of my more regular readers take you to the woodshed on those.)

A couple final points.

First, working backwards, I actually don't feel I'm throwing anything away by believing the heartfelt -- and heart wrenching -- revelations of our sister disciples.

To me, it just makes Guru a much more complicated person. As I've said -- mostly privately to others -- I have a tremendous amount of personal confidence in my spiritual life and it all stems from Guru.

Nevertheless, and this is my final point, it's just incredibly difficult for me to just blow off Sundari's revelation (as it has been for almost every single active San Francisco disciple -- the Center is now permitting ex-disciples to work at Ananda Fuara!).

Sundari absolutely is NOT bitter. Ironically -- and this is something she has pointed out to me -- the people most angry with Guru are NOT the women making these revelations.

In any event, Sundari did everything right. Without fanfare or deceit, she quietly told her Center leader what had happened to her. Her Center leader told Ashrita and within a day she was told to leave the Center, "no hard feelings."

Only then did she go public, and if you think her guest post is "bitter," then I think you should read it again.

I'm not saying you have to believe Sundari's story. It's your right not to. But your theory as to why you don't believe these women simply does not apply to her (or Bihagee or to Suchatula -- all of whom I have spoken to extensively).

The key, though, as you've said, is not to be married to one position or the other, but rather to follow the evidence.

In this regard, I wonder if your faith in Guru could survive if you spoke to Sundari and came to believe her story?

I suspect it would survive, but in a much more complicated -- and I'd argue healthy and solid -- form.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

You may not want to post this as it becomes a he said, she said kind of thing but I actually spoke to someone who is in the center and was told that for some time now, Sundari was speaking ill of Guru to many - it was not just a whisper to the center leader.

I was also told that Ashrita called her and asked her what was wrong. She told Ashrita her complaints and he said, "Well, if you really feel that way, you should leave the center."

Her reply was "Good! Now I can really say what I feel."

What hurts so much is that the concept of innocent until proven guilty has been thrown out the window. Guru is not in the physical to even defend himself for God's sake!

And no matter how sterling these women who are making the accusations seem to be, please remember that there is not one person who was in Guru's position that has not been accused of the same thing.

Also, each woman making the claims has their own private beef even if they are not admitting it to themselves. In Sundari's case, she was not selected as the leader of the SF center after Sevika left even though she had come to the center before Garima. Also, in spite of being one of the older and more prominent disciples, she was not chosen to be part of the committee. I am sorry but it does not take a degree in psychology to understand how this could have created a, let's call it, unconscious grudge or even anger at Guru.

I appreciate what you are trying to do: you are a lawyer and the training has made you want to seek justice. But please ask yourself, where is the justice for Guru who sacrificed so much? My friend who is still in the center, described how much visible pain he was in the last 10+ years of his life. I saw some videos and I have to say, he did not look in any shape to be the least bit interested in the kind of activities he is accused of.

I just wish that there was not such a rush to judgment and that that people would stop to consider that there may be some psychological components to the accusations that are far beyond the lay person's ability to understand. Human beings can be very complicated - especially our minds!

Most of all perhaps, I feel sorrow that such a soul as you, whose name means abode of Yoga, is enmeshed in all of this hell. Why should you cover your pure and great soul in black soot?!

If I were in your place, I would not write or accept one more word on the subject: I would resign this self-appointed job. Instead, I would spend time meditating, meditating and meditating. I think you would be quite surprised as the revelations you will receive.

All the best.

Y. said...

My friend,

You think Sundari concocted a story about Guru because she wasn't made Center leader after Sevika left (in the 1980s)?

I mean, come on.

You don't want to believe her story to be true. Fine. Leave it at that. But don't dress it up with all this psychobabble.

As for "your friend" in the Center who is feeding you all this information, please pass on to him/her/them my email address.

If they want to address alleged inacurracies of Sundari's account or any other issues on the blog, then let them speak, for the sake of the gods! Speak!

Your "friend" can email me privately off the record if he'd like (I promise not to get too much soot on him).

I'm not, however, going to let anyone be an anonymous mouthpiece for the Center, Ashrita, or anyone else. If you have authority to speak for the Center, declare it now.

Otherwise, restrict your comments to your own opinions and thoughts please.

STEFAN BRIGHT said...

This post is directed to Anonymous.

I truly understand your feelings about your relationship with guru and your longing for the continued thread that you believe is divine.

I'm not sure how long you have been out of the center but there is a growth period away from the teacher/disciple relationship and once you can understand where the one ends and the other begins you will start to transform and become free of those bonds.

The teacher is the student. Your inner voice, your higher Self, is your ultimate guru. Love it, admire it and truly appreciate it. It will never let you down. It will love you eternally and carry you through all of the journey with the ultimate of success.

When we left the center in 1977 we left under a dark cloud of scandal. Never before had such an appalling event occurred in the eyes of the disciples. This was what we heard for many years thereafter. Whether it was true or not doesn't really matter, what mattered was how we felt and how long it took us to move on from those feelings. After 33 years I am glad to say we have moved on.

I would also mention to live your feelings proudly, exude your hearts deepest desires. Own up to all that is you; then, now and forever and for god's sake use your real name. Don't hide behind a banner of anonymity. It doesn't become you, or anyone else for that matter. We are all brothers and sisters in this cosmic game. It's easier if we know what face belongs to the words.

Now I must allow my ego a little play here. My name is Stefan. It is spelled S-T-E-F-A-N. Remember your dearest guru hated it when people did not spell the disciples names correctly.

And finally, whatever we do or whatever path we walk the experience is invigorating and the outcome is joyous.

Amen my brother Anonymous! Amen!

Anonymous said...

STEFAN, regarding what you wrote:

Your inner voice, your higher Self, is your ultimate guru. Love it, admire it and truly appreciate it. It will never let you down. It will love you eternally and carry you through all of the journey with the ultimate of success.

Isn't that what Guru said over and over and over?

(sorry about misspelling your name before)

Stefan Bright (TARANGA) Class of '77 said...

Anonymous-
I'm not going to tell you the answer to that unless I know your NAME.

Just kidding.

You know I don't ever remember having a photo of my higher self on my shrine. As a matter of fact it was all about the love of the guru when I was there. All the love was directed to him. I didn't have any inner circle doing my higher self's laundry or cooking my higher self's meal. No it was all about him. That's the status quo in India with all the gurus. He was just following the teachings that he learned. This is where it gets sticky. He had nothing new to give. All the gurus did it.

We fell in love with a concept. The concept had a body, a nice smile and lots of CHARISMA. It wasn't about us and our higher selves. In fact the mission at that time was to destabilize us. Thrust us into a state of flux. Spin us around, dizzy us up and watch us fall. And if you don't believe that, then why all the jealousy and depression if we were supposed to love our higher selves.

No, this was total submission for the cause, for CKG: Concerts, poetry readings, marathons, nobel peace prizes, oy oy oy the list goes on.

Don't kid yourself, Anonymous, you were working for the boss. Not your higher self.

But you know what? It's all good. Veni, Vidi, Vici- we came, we saw and we got the hell out.

Now it's your job to really rock the game. Your higher self is happy as hell. It's free to do what it came down to earth to do. Learn on it's own terms.

Oh this is sooo cool!

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Your beloved sister is a prime example of the "getting even" tactic (with respect to my relationship that just ended). But getting even doesn't necessarily mean the truth isn't being spoken or the reaction isn't warranted. It just means she's not in a particular humor of handling things gracefully, which can come and go in a person's life, for many different reasons, probably mostly a sense of loss.

Anonymous, if you are going to go down the road and generalize on the behavior of women, you have to take into account the behavior of men as a counter. I mean, what sorts of things do women lash out at? Cheating husbands, boyfriends that take up with their best friends... And there are plenty of jealous and dangerous men out there that lash out at their women for deception. I don't think it's as simple as all that. I think you have a romantic idea of what women's and men's behaviors really are.

My point is, even if someone is in a mad frame of mind and wanting to get even, it doesn't mean what they say isn't true. It just means they are pissed off. That said, the women accusing guru aren't pissed off, as most think they are. Many have moved right on with their lives, and others are struggling to do so. But they want the truth out there.

Anonymous said...

Stefan Bright wrote:

"But you know what? It's all good. Veni, Vidi, Vici- we came, we saw and we got the hell out."

Nicely phrased. Although for others still in the centre it has been Veni, Vidi, Velcro - we came, we saw, we stuck around.

I believe that the development of the courage to take responsibility for your own life is a big part of spirituality. What is it that gives a person that grace to take the dark and difficult journey out to freedom?

Terra.

Stefan Bright said...

Terra -
You hit the nail on the head. It is about taking responsibility for our own selves. Unfortunately many who entered the center did so before that part of their brain came into play, me included.

In our twenties we are sure and brazen and confident about our decisions. We are also living with our favorite friend Ego. This is the number one problem and nobody seems to want to except it.

It is such a natural part of the human species that we forget that it is there. It has become an appendage like our hands or feet. We know they work but don't pay much attention to them.

This friend of ours causes us much pain. Depression, jealousy, judgment, etc. We have to release this friend from its hold on us.

Unfortunately, being in the center does not help. The need to be as close to the guru as possible has created more pain and frustration for disciples than anything in the so called "outside world."

It took me a while to understand this; but after reading several of Eckhart Tolle's books as well as Peter Kingley and Franklin Merrill-Wolfe I started to get the point.

Once the mind is freed from the chains of discipleship and can see other alternatives, with out any judgment, a new person is born within. It just takes us looking at ourselves with a less serious attachment to our imperfect self imposed upon us by our dear friend ego.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post here that I have been blogging excerpts from a book that a dear friend of mind wrote called "Letters from 500." It is a startling allegory on information transmitted from 500 years in our future from a new species beyond humankind. It tells of the transmutation of our human species to a more advanced species know as Homo Evigilo.

It has given me the final piece of the puzzle that I personally needed to evolve to the next level of understanding.

For those of you interested in checking this out here is the link:
http://lettersfrom500.com

The book of these Letters has recently been published and is available at the website.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan,

very interesting stuff.

I was suspicious about the arrogance that I found myself developing when I bought into the CKG story. And I'm sure I was not alone.

The ego, in an ironic twist, can actually be magnified when a person buys into the narrative of a dodgey guru. I suppose it's nice to feel important.

I've moved to a type of meditation which leads simply to an inner stillness. Within the stillness comes the awareness that things are OK. And the ego seems to assume its proper place. Not spectacular, but real and natural.

But it took me a while to discern what I wanted...

Terra.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Y. said...

You're welcome and thanks for reading. I hope you'll continue to comment when inspired.

Anonymous said...

Terra,

Be careful of crediting the guru with a follower's ego/arrogance.

Ego and arrogance happen when a person identifies their own status based on their connection with the guru's perceived status. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the guru being a complete fraud or genuine or even an actual avatar.


What you describe is moving towards cultivating your own personal spiritual practice - instead of claiming a spiritual status based on someone else's perceived spiritual practice.

But this is possible in the context of any spiritual group or religion - regardless of the actual spiritual status of the other members or even leaders.


Even though I've been out of the Center for years, it took the sex scandal to wake me up to the fact I wasn't as independent and personally responsible for my own sadhana as I thought I was.

I can only hope the current leadership of the Center will place a higher value on their own inner spiritual life than their outer status based on their connection with CKG.
If they do this, they will easily and comfortably conduct (or commission) a transparent investigation into the allegations - as suggested by Yogaloy in his original post above.


To go outside a bit and speculate (or spin - depending on your perspective), one could even imagine that CKG set up this scandal purposely in order to pre-empt the disciples from permanently falling into the trap of egotistically tying their claimed spiritual state to his spiritual reputation.


Z.

Anonymous said...

Hi Z (Jan 3),

I've toyed with the idea that CKG (in his great compassion) organised the scandal in order to promote independence in the disciples.

But of course this is complete fantasy. Chinmoy was a conman with personality characteristics consonant with sociopathy. To the end he encouraged complete dependency of disciples. And unlike true spiritual greats, did not predict the time or manner of his death.

The egotism of many disciples DOES increase when they join a cult. Their connection with a person of perceived influence gives them a feeling of importance. You will remember the prickly arrogance of some of the SCC disciples.

Wanting to be spiritually great is the greatest obstacle to becoming spiritually great. CKG's pathological ambition infected so many.

Terra.

Y. said...

I think the real key to understanding, Terra, is giving up the notion of "spiritual greatness" altogether.

I think the notion of "spiritual greatness" is itself a fantasy.

A few months back, my sister said something like: "I could never accept that Sri Chinmoy is a true avatar." Which prompted me to ask, "Just what is a 'true' avatar."

I don't even know what that is. Give me an example.

Is it Jesus and his miracles? Does anybody in his or her right mind actually believe the stories of miracles attributed to him?

Is it Ramakrishna and his blissful intoxication (and also his strange behaviors)?

Is it the supposed moral strength of Gandhi (he who slept with his young nieces or were they cousins?)?

It is this rigid insistence -- unrealistic and irrational insistence -- that there are some beings supernaturally superior to us mortals that sets up this whole false and confused dichotomy.

Sri Chinmoy had his faults and you may very well have identified some of them, but I'd be careful about comparing him unfavorably with our hagiographically polluted memories of past masters and saints.

Anonymous said...

If a discussion about spiritual greatness centres on just the behaviour or idiosyncracisies of the person concerned, it is unlikely that we will arrive at a conclusion. Although there are general rules when assessing a prospective spiritual guide, the nature of Spirit means that there will always be some level of unpredictability.

An outcomes-based approach can be applied reasonably successfully though. The question, "Have I become more whole and independent by allowing this person to guide me?" is crucial. A spiritual teacher I respect has his own version, to be asked of the leader: "How does he get along with his wife?". If a prospective leader's relationships are not of the type that you respect, steer clear.

With CKG it was a one way street. He was the boss and was never wrong, even when he clearly was. He didn't have healthy human relationships and didn't have normal friends. He was energised by the power he had to control others, to "own" them if you like. Whenever something went right, CKG was to be praised. Whenever something went wrong, it was somehow the fault of the imperfect disciples, or those ubiquitous 'hostile forces', the scapegoats of his spiritual world. If a disciple developed wholeness and it looked like it would lead to independence, CKG would quench it quick smart. But as long as a disciple was developing a limited and dependent wholeness (often in spite of CKG), it could safely be tolerated.

We could argue that CKG's secret intention was to forge in his disciples a powerful independence, brought about by the development of a digust for him. Great theory. However, when we look at how forcefully he tried to silence the voices of abused ex-disciples who were trying to make the truth known, the theory falls apart.

Terra.

Stefan Bright said...

There is a new clarity peeking above the stormy horizon. It is a breath of freedom that is felt in the very atoms of our self. It is a pure thing and anointed with the liquid of love. Emanations are peering through the darkened cloud that surrounds our presence now and the inner heart is sensing a new path. It is our Soul’s birth into a revealing life of Oneness with the Creative Source. The transmutation is sublime and can only give us a glimmer of its newness. We must enter the realm of darkness and beyond to catch a glimpse. It is here now and we must be ready, for it will leave nothing behind. Even the unconscious will be caught up in the wave and cast into this revelation; to a new expression of life, a new vision of Source. It is beyond our means to change this. Embrace it with all that Source has provided and we will be at the seat of the Divine once more.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terra,

I think a better approach is to focus one's intent on how to grow spiritually from whatever life experiences come to you,
(to reflect on Yogaloy's quote from Sri Aurobindo - "All life is Yoga.").

Do your best to choose situations that appear to support that intent, and when the consequences seem to contradict it - just figure out how to learn and grow spiritually anyway.

The responsibility is all yours.


Judging CKG, or any other spiritual teacher, is really only relevant if you're deciding on supporting or opposing (or ignoring) said teacher.
Who CKG was or wasn't, and what CKG had spiritually achieved or not achieved or realized or not realized, is completely irrelevant to who I am and what I have (or have not) spiritually achieved and realized.

My own spiritual development started a while before my association with the Center and has continued since that association ended.
In all this time I've never experienced anything remotely near the states of consciousness that I did during some of CKG's public meditations while I was in the Center. (Of course, there is much more to spiritual development that just experiencing some blissful or lofty or intense altered state, but without such things it's almost like studying music without really having heard any personally).

There was a time when I interpreted those experiences in a manner that included coming to conclusions about CKG; especially considering I believed these experiences (or similar ones) were very commonly had by many disciples during these events. Obviously the revelations of recent years regarding his personal life have caused me to question those conclusions.

They haven't, however, caused me to question the experiences themselves - just my interpretation of their meaning.
In a similar manner, I now tend to question the conclusions of disciples of any of the acknowledged "great spiritual teachers" and do my best to distill their experiences from their conclusions and interpretations.

It brings me back again to that quote "All Life is Yoga".
While we certainly should continuously exercise our best possible judgement in choosing our inner and other paths, making changes and adapting as our wisdom grows, it really is a waste of time and effort to define a particular decision or person related to said decision in a "judgmental" manner.

Whether 20/20 hindsight makes me feel a decision was wise or unwise is irrelevant - the past can't be undone.
Good choices, foolish mistakes, successes, failures are all part of the Yoga - if you consciously follow through with that intent.

While I have no plans to ever be a member of the Sri Chinmoy Center in the future, I have zero regrets regarding the time I spent there those many years ago.


Z.

Anonymous said...

Hi Z,

a bunch of SCC exes mention the types of experiences they encountered while on the path. I wonder though about the value of these experiences. Many of them are ultimately distortions of reality masquerading as a deeper reality.

It is fairly well established that the mind can produce strange phenomena when it is under stress. Presumably this was something which was refined by the process of evolution, in order to provide an appearance of meaning where little existed, thus keeping the psyche from falling apart.

Strange phenomena, then, should not be treated with much seriousness. And there are abundant warnings about this in the spiritual literature. One of the ways that dodgey gurus hold people capative is by keeping them entranced with these phenomena, or ecstatic states.

If people get caught by this trap, they gradually lose the objectivity to assess their progress. And their life quality decreases.

I'm critical of gurus like CKG because of the harm they cause, while appearing to be benign, or even divine.

Terra.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terra,

You needn't wonder about the value of other people's experiences.
They have zero intrinsic value for anyone other than the person having the experience.
And anyone else's (unqualified) opinion has zero intrinsic value to the said person who had some spiritual experience.

Experiences don't really masquerade as anything - they simply are what they are.
It's our misinterpretations of their meaning and significance that can cause problems.

I can't speak for anyone else, but my memorable heightened experiences all occurred in a context of my being very well rested, relaxed and alert.
But I do agree that the mind doesn't function properly when exhausted by sleep deprivation and/or other types of stress.

Your conclusion about not taking any strange phenomena seriously is not really valid however.
Yes, I agree there are abundant warnings about "chasing" paranormal experiences "for their own sake".
There are also abundant warnings given by parents to their children about not leaving their yard without a parent and not speaking with strangers.
Good injunctions for children. Try imagining an adult literally continuing to follow those injunctions their entire life.

Not just anyone can induce paranormal experiences in others.
For example, if I were to set myself up as a 'guru' (I'd be a 'dodgy' one as I am no where near being a realized yogi), and actually got a disciple or two - they wouldn't get any mystical or pseudo-mystical experiences from my association. I don't have the siddhi to cause such things.

There are plenty of gurus/teachers/swamis/priests/spiritual directors/etc., around who don't have such siddhi either.
They will typically instruct quite vigorously that paranormal mystical experiences are to be completely avoided. In their cases, it's usually because of the fact that they have not experienced any themselves and are therefore incompetent and unqualified to give proper guidance should the 'disciple/student' happen to have one. You could say they err on the side of caution (but only if they openly admit to their spiritual limitations). They could also simply be trying to hide their own incompetence when it comes to such things.

Just to be explicitly clear - I don't equate siddhis or having mystical experiences with realization.
Given the content of the discussions about CKG's behavior, there's certainly evidence available to argue for CKG having some siddhi but not realization. Of course the spiritual literature also gives frequent enough anecdotes of yogis with realization but not the transformation of their outer behavior to argue differently as well.

All experiences are phenomena - including natural sense perception experiences. Our minds interpret chemical/electrical signals from our sensory organs. There is nothing direct about any of it. All is subject to misinterpretation and becoming entrancing traps.

People get trapped and entranced by money, power, fame, sex, alcohol, drugs, altered states, success, family, politics, good grades, support, flattery, titles, romance, sports, peak experiences, hobbies, (and of course, dodgy gurus), etc..
You name it - no matter what the human experience available to us, someone at some time has been inappropriately entranced and trapped by it.

I'll assume your own first hand personal interaction with CKG and/or his Center is the source of your being critical of him. In which case you would be entirely justified in the specific critiques coming from that first hand personal experience.

In any case, I do hope that everyone who has ever been a member of the Sri Chinmoy Center will experience continual spiritual growth from now on, regardless of whether they are still connected to the Center or have left it, and regardless of how they may vote in the 'dodgy' vs. 'divine' vs. 'other' poll on CKG (or any other spiritual personage).


Z.

Anonymous said...

Hi Z,

I disagree about assessing the value of others' 'spiritual' experiences, particularly where cults are concerned.

If people base their decision to join a cult upon these experiences, then they can easily make a mistake. Some invest a couple of decades of their time, give most of their money, give up the opportunity to get an education. And one wants to minimise harm to others.

Terra.

Anonymous said...

Terra,

Very few people on earth have the experience and qualifications required to accurately assess someone else's inner spiritual experiences.

I don't believe you or I are among them.

If you want to relate your own personal experience (spiritual or otherwise) with a particular group and warn people away on that basis, I can entirely respect that.

But your posts take a tone that just comes across as if they were written by a person who has undergone religious reprogramming. Note that I don't believe that those who claim to be cult deprogrammers really deprogram anyone - they just attempt to replace one set of beliefs with another - often just the program of beliefs of a larger, more socially accepted and powerful cult. Of course, not all reprogrammers use the title "deprogrammer" - some are simply salesmen for another set of beliefs - spiritual, material, scientific, religious, etc..

From my perspective, the only people who have truly been deprogrammed - having all their illusions and delusions eliminated - are successful yogi advaitins.

And by that I don't just mean someone who can quote Ramana Marharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Adi Shankara, Gaudapada's Kārikā on the Mandukya Upanishad or similar sources. (And certainly not just someone who can list a few such sources. ;-) ).

Try sticking to relating your own direct personal experience and the wisdom you've gleaned as a result of that direct experience. You'll receive much more respect and your advice will be taken commensurately more seriously.


Z.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, pushed a couple of buttons there. Has following CKG given what you wanted?

Terra.

Anonymous said...

Terra,

As I posted earlier, I have not been a member of the Sri Chinmoy Center for many years and have no plans for joining again.

I also said I have zero regrets regarding the time I spent in it years ago.

Why do you see your spiritual life as a question of "getting what you wanted" from a guru? That puts the responsibility on the guru - who you can then blame or worship depending on whether or not you believe you're getting what you want.

Why not take the radical approach and actually take personal responsibility for your own spiritual life. There's no one to praise or blame - there's just your spiritual life, period.


Responses to any further comments you may make will likely be found as already addressed in my prior posts.

May you and your circle (as well as everyone who has ever, or will ever be involved with the Sri Chinmoy Center in any way) be blessed with a thousand-fold acceleration of your spiritual evolution.


Z.



(p.s. That would be a request for God to grant said blessing. I have not the siddhi to confer it myself.)

Y. said...

Great conversation guys -- or it could be gals, no? Difficult to know when pseudonyms are used.

In any event, good back and forth. I'm more sympathetic to Z's position, but thanks for carrying on the discourse in a civil way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Z,

of course a seeker wants something from a guru! That's why they approach the guru.

CKG promised 'realisation' to the disciples, but it appears that he failed to deliver. I suspect though that he really thought he could be successful, really believed in his own abilities.

Instead of wishing people an acceleration of spiritual evolution, I hope they can find wholeness.

Terra.

Anonymous said...

"For anyone to believe the claims of a handful of female disciples in light of Guru's exquisite contributions to this world is beyond amazing to me. I see more clearly why Sri Ramakrisna did not accept women as disciples and why in general it was considered that women were not fit for the spiritual life. I am sorry if this seems like the height of chauvinism but the attacks against Guru that started with Sevika whose husband left her for another girl disciple making her furious at Guru, is injustice at its height. Fortunately, Guru's offering to this earth will only grow in spite of a small number of ex-disciples relatively speaking who somehow did not find anything more interesting to do with their lives than create negative drum beats against Guru."

Amen and case closed. I think it's why "Y" was so attached to this situation. he himself couldn't come to grips that he was a sheep (too.) A Guru, Priest, Pastor and so on is simply an earthly guide. One that is flawed -- who has the same thoughts, motives and weirdness like each one of us. These females (most) went along with this for 20+ years and thought they were "The Only One' and felt special. Once they found out they were not, they broke their silence trying to tarnish a mission .... Won't happen and that is why the center does not need to speak up nor say a word. That is why the media can care less as well. Y, you seriously (and i mean this in a nice way) sound like you have some deep rooted situations you need to work out and only your guide can help you .... not man. After reading your blog (the ups and downs) left me feeling like you yourself had a motive.

The best advice i've ever received was "Work on being the best you and life will all make sense." Meaning, stop trying to play God, Counselor, Mediator and solve some puzzle on life .... Do You (that's hard enough in this world.)

May God be your Wisdom, Guide and Healer.

Y. said...

So, you accept the truth of what these women say -- that Sri Chinmoy sexually exploited his female disciples for decades -- but you defend it nevertheless because, what, no one is perfect?

This is a particular brand of "bros before hoes" attitude adopted by Sri Chinmoy's male disciples and devotees, who actually have just enough integrity to belatedly admit what now cannot be denied (that Sri Chinmoy was preying on his spiritual daughters), but not quite enough integrity to actually stand up for what is right.

Embarrassing.