Monday, November 2, 2009

Unconditional Acceptance


"Even though my guru frequents a grog shop,
still to me he is the embodiment of eternal bliss."

~ Sri Ramakrishna

A long time ago, an old disciple friend of mine was telling me about a family crisis. Apparently, his younger sister, who was still in high school, was dating an African-American classmate. They were preparing to go to the prom or something.

The problem? Their mom -- an old fashioned, practicing Catholic -- didn't want her daughter dating a black guy. So, both sides of the family appealed to my friend, the eldest son, for help.

My friend, of course, sided with his little sister and tried to talk sense to their mom. He pleaded with her to be fair. He used logic. Finally, he appealed to his mom's religious sensibilities. What would Jesus do, he asked. Her response was classic:

"If Jesus Christ himself came down off the cross and told me to accept it," she said, "I still would not accept it."

The absurdity of this situation aside, there's definitely something to be said for sticking to one's guns and this story reminds me of the literally mindless devotion we all sometimes have towards a principle, even when such rigidity begins to eviscerate the very principle we claim to be following.

In our case, the principle is truth seeking.

When it comes down to it, the essence of the guruvada -- the way of the guru -- is complete and utter surrender to one's guru without conditions. This is a lesson my friend's mom, hypothetically anyway, hadn't learned yet. As surrendered to Jesus as she may have been in other areas of her life, that surrender stopped when it came to whom her daughter dated.

From a yogic point of view, that's no surrender at all.

Take a moment and read the little aphorism above that Thakur was so fond of repeating to his disciples more than a hundred years ago. Think about what that means. That's unconditional acceptance, unconditional love for one's guru, no matter how he or she behaves.

It doesn't mean you, the disciple, must condone the guru's behavior. It doesn't mean you must play along, it just means you love your guru despite his or her apparent flaws. Perhaps it means loving from afar, the way one does for a wayward family member or an adult child who has gone astray.

You love and support, though perhaps not enable.

Whether accepted or not, the implication of this point of view is easily understood to those of us who believe the various allegations of wrongdoing that have been made against our own Guru. It suggests forgiveness -- that while we race to embrace and support our sister disciples who have been exploited by Guru, we should nevertheless remember what Guru once represented to us at a time in our lives when we needed something to believe in.

As I've struggled to explain in my last series of posts, my view -- which I acknowledge is one apparently not held by many others -- is that Guru was both extremely exalted (in his austere, reserved, passive consciousness) and emotionally immature (in his frenetic, vital, active consciousness).

When he meditated he went somewhere few others ever have. But when it came to expressing human feelings and emotions, Guru apparently never developed much beyond that young orphan brought up in a cold, repressive ashram. He took what he wanted -- what he needed -- from those surrendered to him.

Though my Guru deceived me and took sexual advantage of many of his spiritual daughters, "still to me he is the embodiment of eternal bliss."

I love him, flaws and all.

I challenge my friends -- most of whom (but not all) are inside the Center -- and who are not even willing to consider the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct to ask themselves whether their love for Guru is unconditional.

Because it seems to me that if you're too afraid to even consider these allegations it can only be because -- at root --your acceptance of Guru is conditional. You can only accept him as you think he is, but not necessarily as he actually was.

Not everyone in the Center has their head in the sand though. There are some who know the truth, and others unafraid to search for it.

The future of the Center rests with them.

"... at the length truth will out."

That's the goddess Kali above, from an etching done in 1770. Pretty cool. I found it here.

36 comments:

vindicreated vision said...

very intriguing post! Regardless whether or not I or someone else agrees with it, its an interesting point nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Unconditional love and forgiveness - yes, absolutely, but I want my Guru to be my ideal - I want a Guru whom I want to emulate - a Guru of whom I can say "What would he or she do in this situation".

Sri Chinmoy has violated those principals and those ideals - Can you imagine Thomas a Kempis writing a book called "Imitation of Christ (but only when he was in His divine mode of behavior)"?

One wants to look Sri Chinmoy right in the eyes and, to use one of his own favorite phrases, say "Oy, From where to where have you fallen"???

JEEVAN said...

I have found that surrender to the Guru is a powerful psychic menouver. Reminds me of the low born archer approached the Venerable Drona to be his archery student and Drona refused him saying though he was pleased by the boys humility that he could not teach a student of low born parents archery. So the archer went to the dark Dandanka forest and worshipped an idol of Drona he had constructed out of clay. By his intense devotion and surrender he had over time become the best Archer in the world. So one day a dogs barking was bothering his meditation so he wove a muzzle of arrows around the dogs mouth so skillfully that not a drop of the dogs blood was spilled. Arjuna and entourage chillaxing in the forest happen to see the dog. Seeing the art of the weave and being alarmed as it was beyond his skill to do he and drona soon located the young archer. The young archer seeing Drona dropped prostrate at Drona's feet. Drona asked who had taught him thus and the young man responded that Drona had as he had been worshiping his clay image.The young archer asked Drona to ask anything he wanted of him so Drona ( as he had promised to make Arjuna the greatest archer in the world) asked him for his right thumb and with out flinching he severed the bloody digit and placed it at Drona's feet.
The power of Surrender is the ultimate freedom for the disciple, it is the point where the Guru is no longer needed. It is why Sri Ramakrishna use to joke that he wanted his Guru's fee up front.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

You really can't discount the minds of those of us involved in the Centre, and how different each one of us was, and what brought each one of us to the path in the first place.

I am seeing firsthand these days how truly naive some part of my psyche is. Eliza suggested in a story she just told me, it's like losing your innocence. And I truly agree. But I'm quite sure that's not true of everyone.

I see why the Centre was a good fit for me at 18, mostly because it straightened me out and gave me an opportunity to dive deeper into my interest in death and reincarnation. But it also reinforced a very black and white subtlety to my being that I still have trouble with.

Although I've always seen myself as somewhat world-wise, I think I've also been living in some kind of fairy land--not a super great one, like some people have, but one nonetheless. Maybe all humans have a place like that.

Last thing I wanted to mention, is that many of the discussions that go on here don't seem to apply to the women abused. I don't know that any one of them would be able to love guru in the same way. What may or may not be true for us, is decidedly different for them.

Ultimately, I guess, what they experienced is not our burden, although somehow at the same time it feels like it very much is. Or maybe we should treat it like it is regardless. I would like to know how so much of what's been talked about could be applied to them for their own closure and ability to heal.

Forget about me; how do they love guru, flaws and all?

Niklas said...

Great Picture yogaloy!

I believe that devotion should be to the truth and not a particular individual. I realize that this might not be aligned with the "bhakti" tradition. But many traditions have a long tenent of the "love of truth," or as the seeker being a "lover of truth." Think of Rumi and his divine longing. And while a human may embody this longing, such as Shams of Tibrizi did for Rumi, it comes with certain resposibilities.

I no longer have what I would call blind devotion to ckg. He is not the "apple of my heart." The essence of truth is heralded by my own love of the truth. No ckg need apply.

I do not deny the states that ckg could achieve and transmit, but if they don't translate to some earthly duty towards honesty and decency, I'm not interested. And I'm no prude. It would n't have bothered me as much if guru had sex as long as he wasn't telling me not to. I left the path, in part, over this sex issue. This and the back-biting tendencies of the inner-circle-get-to-the-back-porch-gang was becoming all to transparent. Also, guru's thirst for self-aggrandizement was even more disgusting. Isn't the saying that when the student is ready the teacher will come, but here we have a "master" who thought nothing of working behind the scenes to get the Nobel Peace Prize, have the press ready for every sneeze, and kiss up to anyone who could parlay fame and fortune.

The last straw for me came on a small boat on a lake in Helsinki, when guru was being "tormented" by Alo. Need we even try to figure that one out? Some avatar of the era? Being a hen-pecked victim...and all the deceit that went into handling "the Alo problem" made me want to vomit, where as most people where just running around trying to "please Guru." Very confusing. I figured I was doing both him and I a favor by leaving. And so I did...and it was painful, mostly because I had to reclaim my own power, and my own longing for the truth.

Niklas aka Nimagna
Seatle/San Jose/Santa Cruz
1981-1986

P--I find it disgusting that various center hacks try to discredit your posts like "concerned citizen" a few posts back, but they lack the courage (maybe even balls) to say who they are.

Yogaloy, you should get the Peace Price for your tact and diplomacy in handling them.

Anonymous said...

Again, a thoughtful post Yogaloy. Most of the previous comments from this thread have real depth to them as well.

It seems to me that in general more mature people who have left high pressure spiritual groups become philosphical, tending to believe that both the disciple and the guru shared responsibility for unfortunate consequences. They can reflect on their youth and realise that at that point in their lives they needed a guru who would help them change direction. Later on, when they have outgrown the need for the guru, they start to perceive deep problems with the guru's character. It's as though both parties were willing to dance with deception in the beginning because there was mutual advantage. But later on, the benefits run all the guru's way.

For those aspiring to the higher echelons of spirituality, the guru's integrity becomes very important. After all, seekers are trying to realise the Truth about life. Deception obviously runs at odds with Truth.

Do internally inconsistent gurus have a valid role in the whole game? I think that in most cases the growth of so many disciples in the SCC allows us to answer yes. Many have become so strong and independent and have dealt with a bunch of inner stuff.

But the amount of unnecessary suffering and wasted time of many disciples attests to the fact that an internally inconsistent guru is less than optimal.

Terra.

terraaustralis01@yahoo.com.au

Anonymous said...

Pushpit*a says
Jeevan great story! I think more folks need to read the Mahabharata to get a better understanding about the simple ideas that God has favorites, life isn't fair, everyone isn't equal,some people are going to miss out,some have to do what they don't want to,some people are born first and some people have to be last.
All to say...that MAYA is what we all have to deal with. Guru,was absolutely different to me the day before I wanted to be His disciple, different again the moment He accepted me, different 3yrs later, 10 yrs later and 30 yrs later. Didn't everybody really come with preconceived ideas that changed on a daily basis? Isn't that much of what we change in our natures when we are seeking? Isn't that why we "throw away" the mind and try to stop putting things in boxes with labels? Isn't that what seeking is? Going beyond what we already know, and where we have been, to reach a new and different place? I personally was never seeking perfection IN my Guru's life,as much as direction from my Guru's Experience and experience itself from the daily practice of a path that very much suited my heart and needs...otherwise I would'nt have been there.If you are in the process of "Traveling" you have to go down "some" road and see where it goes, before you even know you may have to go back and make a change in course.But nothing is lost by this process, except that you have come along a little farther on your own path and progress. The idea that "the Guru" has to be "immaculate" is naive and, I suggest, uniquely western/Christian. My DOG teaches me more about Devotion than any human has...and my dog isn't even religious!And doesn't even think about God! Can you imagine?!
How is that possible? Because God and "devotion" don't even have anything to do with each other really! The Mind wants these things to be together, that doesn't mean they are!
Love to everybody! Sorry for the long post!

Lynn said...

FLAWS AND ALL?????????
I think we do enable when we don't stand up for the vulnerable when they are abused. If we give Chinmoy a pass, when he not only had no outer regret or shame for his appalling abuse of power when he sexually abused those in his charge, their spiritual FATHER, but then viciously went after those who began telling the truth. You enable people like PEACECOURIER to continue harrassing and threatening anyone who dares to tell their story publicly. I think there are relative truths but when it comes to morality, deliberate harming of someone in your care is clear and letting it slide because you happen to have a good time when you were there is enabling and is a form of fear of accepting the responsibility of the truth. Can you forgive Chinmoy for his sexual abuse of others?? Sure, but does it have any integral value if you were not one of those abused??? I think it is more relevant what the women abused think and feel. Forgiving Chinmoy does not change the truth about his nature as an unrepentant abuser of people in many ways. I believe we will gain more insight looking at who he was, warts and all, and our own reaction to this unfolding of 'truth'.
Yogaloy, you say "still to me he is the embodiment of eternal bliss", when the stories that are unfolding from others experience of him show his to be a rather tortured soul, mean spirited and abusive of his power, yet you want to hold onto a personal vision of him as an archetypal holy man.
Even an authentic teacher must be transcended when the student is ready to forge their own unique relationship with the Universal Consciousness, I think we can imagine 'goodness' in a container more universally moral than old Chinmoy has turned out to be.
Lynn

Y. said...

I've got some catching up to do!

Let me first address Lynn's post and then in a separate comment, I'll touch on some of the previous ones.

Lynn, first off, thanks for reading and posting. I realize it may not mean much to you -- or you may not have felt the same way -- but I always thought very fondly of you in our Center days (and of course still do).

I also want to apologize for being a little snippy with you in a previous response I made to one of your comments. I'm sorry. I want this site to be a place of civil discourse no matter how strongly we may disagree with each other. I'll try to do better.

To your comment:

You write: "I think it is more relevant what the women abused think and feel." (As opposed to what I or others feel about Guru and his wrongdoing.)

I couldn't agree more.

When it comes right down to it, I'm in no place to forgive Guru -- especially for wrongs he committed against others. That can only come from those abused, as you rightly point out.

But let me push back a little on a couple of your other points. You don't really think I'm giving Guru "a pass" or letting him "slide," do you?

Likewise, do you really think I'm enabling people who "continue harassing and threatening anyone who dares tell their story publicly?"

I think -- I HOPE -- taken as a whole, it's clear that I've unequivocally condemned Guru's wrongdoing and expressed support for the women involved. If nothing else, please read my post "The Ethical Case." I don't think I could have been any clearer.

As for continued harassment, I'm not sure there's actually much of that going on. The Center appears utterly silent on the matter and leaderless. With Suchatula, for example, the latest woman to go public, I've heard of no efforts to intimidate or harass her (please correct me, Cecelia, if I'm wrong about that). To the larger point, though, I don't see how I'm enabling any of that.

I absolutely reject black and white analysis. The idea -- and I'm not saying this is your perspective Lynn -- that if I acknowledge anything good about Guru or the Center, then I must be hurting others is the kind of simplistic approach that won't help anyone. (Reminiscent of Bush 43 saying "You're either with us or against us." Human affairs are never so simple.)

In fact, that's one of the primary drivers of this blog. There are already two websites that give those looking for extreme views free reign: the Yahoo! ex-disciple board and the Yahoo! "Inspiration" board of the Center. Neither does much for me.

Nowhere else have I read on the Interwebs a nuanced view of Center life. So, I started this one.

One last gripe (I promise). I have to push back against the idea that I "want to hold onto a personal vision of [Guru] as an archetypal holy man." Come on, Lynn. That's not fair.

My whole blog, at least since Suchatula came forward, has been about deconstructing that very archetype.

Let me end where I started with your point -- one I think we can all agree on -- that it's the thoughts and feelings of those abused that matter most. I hope (and if I prayed, I'd pray) that we hear from them all in the very near future on a site of their own.

I pledge my support to all of them.

Y. said...

@VV: Thanks for reading. Yeah, I've been intrigued by that Ramakrishna quote since I first read it as a teenager, so I thought it was a provocative way to start.

@Anonymous11:42: I hear ya on wanting your Guru to be your ideal. And that's of course true during one's disciple days. But I no longer have a need or desire to emulate.

Kinda ashamed to say I never read "The Imitation of Christ." I think Swami Vivekananda carried a copy with him all over the place. In my case, however, I'm allergic to Jesus.

@Jeeves: I do now remember that story. What a great book to read the first time through. And it does go to this idea -- held by many, including I think our dear sister Liz -- that it was really our doing, not Guru's, that brought us whatever progress we made in the Center. It's an intriguing idea and one that I'd like to hear more about.

@Liz: Yes, I like that losing your innocence idea. Do you agree, that like losing your innocence, it's a painful process, but once you know the truth you'd never go backwards in a million years? Right?

It was so fun, for me at least, in those early, mindless and carefree days in the Center. I was, for a few years, truly, truly happy. But I'd never swap that for my hard won independence.

(I hope I'm not discounting anyone -- not sure what you mean in that first paragraph.)

@Nick: I nominate yours as the Best Comment! Hells yeah, I SHOULD win the Nobel! Barack is such a poseur! ; )

It IS a sweet picture, isn't it? I love those really old, classic Indian pictures and thought Mother Kali was appropriate with the Ramakrishna quote.

Finally, I didn't have a problem with "Concerned Citizen." He/She was very articulate and, like I said, relatively snark-free.

@Terra: Thanks, and thanks for reading. For someone who was never a disciple, your posts are always insightful, articulate and thought provoking. (Though I don't always agree with you.)

@Pushpita: You're someone who I hope is doing some writing of your own. I hope you'll share more of your experiences; I think a lot of people, particularly women disciples, would gain a lot from hearing from you. Don't apologize for the long post (write more!).

Love and Peace.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

@brother

Some days are better than others, in terms of me wishing to maintain that sense of innocence. I kinda like knowing what I'm doing (spiritually speaking, and not in a control freak way), and not knowing can suck, which is where I find myself sometimes. That doesn't mean that I don't keep keepin' on, and that I'm not evolving, it just means I'm not tethered.

When I took a look at the Yahoo! board after leaving the Centre and moving to Santa Cruz in 2001, I was amazed at some people who jumped from the Centre to some other path, so sure that their new path was the cat's meow. I thought, if they are so sure that guru was a fake, how can they be so sure that what they are doing now is legit?

Back to your question though.

I sometimes do wish for that state of innocence, yes. Or the simpler times (and I don't even have kids). Especially when life is dishing it out and I feel like a raft floating on violent seas. I completely understand that state of not wanting to know. And maybe that's what made me a good Centre candidate at 18.

I'm sympathetic to those people in that same position, and those people who recognize knowing the truth about guru, or admitting it to themselves, would be their psychological undoing. I get that. A lot of people came to the Centre for protection from other things, ways of life or people, in addition to being seekers. Thinking that you've possibly wasted 20+ years of your life is painful, even if it is a momentary or fleeting thought. And I'm sure I can navigate around that thought much easier than the "chicks guru dug" (@Jeevan, like father like son).

But, yeah, ultimately, I want to know. I just have moments of personal weakness. In the case of these particular women, and the others who are coming forward, and those who will come forward, I put aside that weakness in my support of them. The more I hear, the more appalled I am at guru's behavior; the stories just get worse and worse.

To me, particularly disturbing, as things unravel and I find out more, is guru becoming involved with women who came to the Centre as children with their parents. What a nightmare. Very predatory, in my opinion--as if the other stories weren't enough to indicate that.

Does anyone blame me for wishing, from time to time, that I'd swallowed the other pill?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you keep saying "WE".
There aren't that many "WE"s that have exactly the same view as you...Some things "we" have already considered.
Yogaloy has written very thoughtfully about both sides of this subject...and he can NEVER be one of those women...so he can never have the same experience and conclusion. Many have thought about, discussed,tried to wrap thier heads around, perhaps even empathized with, and some...maybe not all, might have come to a different conclusion than you.
Some have "considered" Guru's actions (and the women's actions)and feel a little differently than you. There can never be a true understanding...as "WE" are not "THEM".
Some, maybe even many,of those women that have NOT come out, might even have enjoyed this relationship with Guru.
(Isn't this the other elephant in the room? That some may NEVER have felt "abused"?)
Sex not always qualifing as "abuse" for god's sake! Especially, if the women asked- could say "no"!
I may be the ONLY one, but I for one, never thought of Guru as my "Father" but as my Teacher/Guide/Guru.
I have been "ABUSED". And I would never consider a consenting Adult that was told they did'nt have to participate- abuse! It may be mental torture,psychological torture perhaps,a dramatic life changing, even regrettable,horrifying choice, but not "abuse". The word "Abuse" should not be misused here.
"We" are not "Them"!
You may remain "empty" after your experience with Guru, But some of us remain "Full"

Celia said...

Ok, forget right or wrong/ good or bad..
Could each person sincerely and I mean SINCERELY ask yourself how would you feel if it was Your Daughter (Your very own child), or Your Sister, Your Mother or Your Wife that ckg had sex with or that he asked to have sex with another woman while he sat watching.
When she came to you confused and disturbed to say father, brother, son or dear husband this is what what ckg asked of me.
Would you then say,
"Though my Guru deceived me and took sexual advantage of many of his spiritual daughters, "still to me he is the embodiment of eternal bliss."
"I love him, flaws and all."

or would you possibly be just a little pissed?

There are very Very few people, who did not experience this abuse first hand, that can really grap the painful reality of this situation. If you can not imagine it as yourself then do take the time to imagine it being someone that means the absolute most to you. How then would you feel?

What ckg has done IS NOT OK. It is not mearly a FLAW!!! Wake up people. For god fricken sake!!!

And to the above Anonymous, Abuse is used properly. Try looking it up.

I am one of 'Them" and the beauty of this blog is that it has put the truth out there. Everyone can have their opinion but they can NEVER change the TRUTH.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

@Anonymous

How can you not consider guru's raising children in the Centre, and then later involving them in this sexual way, not abuse--some of them actually virgins at the time. Does that not slightly sicken you? I guess the unfolding story isn't quite out there yet.

And I don't think guru gave a choice to each woman as he told them to strip down in front of them, telling them this is what their soul wanted. I think the choices he gave came after, when some of them were massively conflicted about what was happening.

There is a huge psychological component involved here. How does that escape you? Never mind how you view things, or how I do. Can you see where years and years of obedience training leads to, well, obedience?

I can venture to accept that there are reasons some women went along with guru's play in this way. There are all kinds of reasons why people do what they do. But I would suggest that each one of them might have a quite different perspective on what they experienced outside the bubble of the Centre.

Many of these women feel isolated from family. Many of them have no real money or skills that translate to the outside world, especially in this economy. Some of them are older, which when looking at the world and what it takes to support yourself in it at that age, is daunting. I still feel I'm behind the game at 41, for many reasons.

I don't think you're really looking at the big picture. The only elephant in the room, in my opinion, is what happens to the minds of those of us who never saw guru as merely a life teacher, but as the avatar he claimed himself to be.

I didn't have the experience Suchatula did. But I can honestly say I'm not sure what I would have done in her position if I was on the spot, in front of guru and he was telling me this is what my soul wanted (after 16 years on the path). I'd like think I would have gracefully bowed the "f" out, but then again I obviously have trouble with good judgment. When the pressure is on, people react in all sorts of ways they would never imagine.

I do know, however, that I would have had a much different opinion outside the Centre. And I can guarantee that, if that happened to me, my brothers might have a slightly different opinion than they do now of guru.

This idea of tantra is all well and good. I'm all for it. I'm no prude. But this wasn't what was going on. I might be able to buy that in guru's case if Alo was merely his shakti, or maybe even Ranjana, or Lavanya. But not when it involves kids that were raised in the Centre, and who knew nothing else but a life with guru. Not when it involves women who have never had a sexual experience in their life.

God, just imagine being one of those parents? If they ever thought that that was where their daughter would end up, in the arms of another woman, or better yet, in the arms of guru, would they not have hightailed it out of the Centre? I think the answer would be a symphonic yes! And I think a dreary life in the suburbs, with a family that drives you nuts, perhaps, would be infinitely better than an isolated life in the Centre with no family, all messed up, wondering what truck just ran over you.

I wish I had a million dollars right now, because I'd hand it out like a Hari Krishna handing out stuff at the airport, if it meant an easy passage for some of these women to start their lives over.

And if anyone has a big enough heart to donate to that cause, email Yogaloy, because there are going to be some people in need. In fact, there are some people in need right now. And if you are one of those women who needs help, email Yogaloy too. We'll find help.

This notion of consenting versus not consenting is all theory. Whether you want to believe it or not, right now, there are women suffering because of what guru involved them in.

Niklas said...

To Elizabeth Kracht: Well said & right on!

I see that you see the suffering that the silence the Centre is championing, and I wonder what advise you might have to someone who has a family member who is on the Path but this family member is cognitively blissfully unaware of any of these allegations (in my case, this family member doesn't use the internet). Shall I burst their bubble? Should I hope that they find out on their own. They are quite settled, thinking they are keeping company with the avatar of the era, etc.

I'm torn. Maybe others are in a similiar predicament.

I really appreciate Elizabeth's call for support for all those who feel they need it, and I truly hope we can galvanize around that call.

Lynn said...

Hi Joe/Y, point taken, I get carried away and have read all your blog entries and their support of the ABUSED women. I thought your last blog was not clear about that and that is what I responded to. When you said "still to me he is the embodiment of eternal bliss", to say that about someone who has been shown to be a sexual predator, and a monumental hypocrite, I needed to call that statement into question. To me eternal bliss speaks to a consistancy of morality and self awareness, not someone who demands vegetarianism but is caught stuffing his face with chicken, or demands celibacy while sexually abusing his spiritual daughters, who fiegns humility to the public while conducting his own spiritual community as a facist dictator. Sorry, I'm ranting a bit, but you get my drift.

Liz, we never met, I regret that, I love your fiery energy. I don't think any time in the SCC was wasted, it was an intense microcosm where we had the opportunity to see ourselves in situations that really revealed a lot about who we are and were,( shit happens everywhere, I think our intention and response to it is what is important) These discussions now with others who were there is also an intense opportunity to evolve our awareness.

Anonymous, After leaving the SCC and spending years working through my stuff, I studied psychology and Counselling hoping to be able to use the unique cult experience I had been through. One thing that is very clear whether in a cult or the regular world is that someone who has power over another the way a spiritual teacher does, especially one like Chinmoy, who demands absolute obedience, is that sex in that situation is committing SEXUAL ABUSE, it damages the one who is abused in ways that sometimes takes years to surface. You may not have the experience or the empathy needed to understand this concept, we are all evolving towards greater awareness, but to imagine that it was happy go lucky consentual sex is a very limited and sad perspective. Liz really captured the essence of this point in her post.
Lynn

Y. said...

Man, how I wish we could all get together over coffee/beer (vodka) or whatever your poison and talk together in person. This is good stuff.

Thanks for your post, Lynn. You're absolutely right about my provocative statement tied to the Ramakrishna quote (about Guru being the embodiment of eternal bliss).

It has generated not only a lot of comments here, but also some private emails. I think I'll try to explain my thinking a little more in another post.

I'm not ready to recant, but I think you all have me on the ropes. We'll see if you can finish me off.

Anonymous said...

Namo, Namo, Y Guy, and thanks for your totally open and HONEST approach to taking a Clear-Eyed view of "Yoga and the Spiritual Life" as "realized, revealed, and manifested" by CKG and his unconditionally surrendered disciples.

I have to take issue, however, with your statement that "When he meditated he went somewhere few others ever have."

Let's face it, you don't know WHERE Guru went when he meditated and neither do I, nor did anybody else (except Guru himself, needless to say) and it PRECISELY blind belief attitudes like the one you expressed that SETS UP the pefect psychological and spiritual context in which to PROJECT all sorts of occult powers and divine attributes onto one's "chosen ideal" that in CKG's case, most certainly, were hardly warranted, at least in this not so humble seeker's opinion, that's for sure.

And once again, may I express my SINCERE gratitude to you for allowing me to share here on your discple friendly site.

Unlike the VAST majority of devoted disciples, and sincere admirers of Sri Chinmoy, you are WILLING to take a look at BOTH sides of the divine picture.

Sad to say, most disciples are simply TOO FRIGHTENED of what they might find, to even approach doing the same.

Oh well. Perhaps that's just another reason why "starving humanity" is still starving, especially for the Truth that will set them FREE of the bondage of spiritual BLINDNESS and stark religious IGNORANCE.

Gary (Swadhin)

Y. said...

@Gary: I think I'm going to nickname you "sharpshooter"! ;)

The good thing about sharpshooting me, at least, is that it makes me raise my game, so I appreciate it. Plus, I have my own rusty marksman skills. So, let me take a shot back.

My comment about Guru going "where few others have" is something different from "blind belief," I think.

It's an opinion, which is based on facts that I perceived: principally what I saw and felt when meditating in front of him with my eyes open (literally and figuratively).

Now, I've cross-examined an expert witness before, so I know full well that the weakness of an opinion is to be found in the facts that opinion is based upon. And here, I grant you, the facts are slim.

You, yourself -- just as most of the participants here -- meditated in front of Guru for years (many of you for many years longer than me). So, you're opinions are just as valid, if not more so, than mine.

But they're opinions, not belief. Belief, to my mind, is holding a firm opinion in the absence of facts or evidence. That's different.

And one more thing, thanks for reading and for the very kind words!

@Nick: Sorry brother, I wanted to respond to your last post, but skipped right past it.

A risk that you run in being the bearer of bad news is that your loved one will see you as antagonistic, even if she later accepts the truth.

Whereas, if you're loving and supportive -- knowing you, Nick, I doubt you could be anything other -- then when the time comes, you'll never have that between you. She won't hesitate to come to you.

Of course, the catch is that she may never find out and don't you have a duty to tell her the truth? Perhaps.

But I sense that things are gaining some momentum within the Center and that even those not plugged in will be exposed to these ideas. Time, I hope, is on your side.

Finally, let me editorialize a little. That's why it's so important that those prominent women inside the Center still, who have had sex with Guru, stand up and say so publicly.

If they believe there was nothing wrong with it, then there should be no shame. Scream it from the rooftops!

If, however, they believe there was something shameful about it, then they should take this chance to do something noble, and admit the truth so that others may be free, even if it's at great cost to themselves.

Nick, I'm almost certain that some glowing female disciple that your loved one holds in high regard had sex with Guru.

When that person talks, your loved one will listen.

by Charlie Rebich, said...

Wow, I just want to say I'm really impressed with all the thoughtful responses and dialogue going on here. This seems like one of the few places, maybe only place, where a real dialogue is going on about Sri Chinmoy. It seems so important to have this dialogue after so many years of suppression and secrecy within the Centre. Hopefully this blog will help things to open up a bit.

Thank you all for taking part in this discussion and thank you Yogaloy for instigating in. You really are doing a great service here and I am really inspired by it.

For me, I try to hold my heart as open as I can. I can still feel love for Sri Chinmoy, remembering all the amazing experiences I had with him, emphasis on the "my" experiences. I can also feel disgust and anger at the knowledge of his abuse, both physical and psychological. By the time I left I could see the pyschological abuse that was going on, with Sri Chinmoy's increasing emphasis on surrender to him.

I think all the emotions are valid, the anger and the love and its important to not deny any of these emotions. Maybe it is staying open to all these emotions that keeps our hearts and minds open.

Peace and Love,
Charlie "Chitvan"

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

@Lynn

Back at you Lynn. Mutual appreciation club. I wish I'd gotten a chance to meet you too. I think I came to the Centre just as you left. I'm starting to burn up from all this fiery spirit. Maybe there is a case for spontaneous combustion.

@Chitvan

Hi and I agree--gotta keep open or risk being miserable and stuck. I also think this blog and comment section are important.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

@Niklas

I submitted a comment on your question to me about family, but I think it got lost upon submittal to the comment section. Either that or I'm being censored by my brother.

Dang.

Y. said...

Hey, don't blame me. I've not censored one comment yet (and hopefully I won't have to). That's a testament to you all.

Though if there's a betting pool as to whom will be the first person censored, my money is on my sister! ;)

Anonymous said...

Namo, namo, once again, O Great Y One,

You have verily said:

"My comment about Guru going "where few others have" is something different from "blind belief," I think."

And I agree!

So, touche', you divine trial lawyer, you.

However, I was all too quick to pull the "blind belief" trigger precisely because THIS is what I believe to be the Main Problem with current disciples coming to GRIPS with the fact of Guru's NON-celibacy, especially, as well as his totally bogus claim to have "lifted" 7,000 lbs. even by HIS OWN miniscule 1 or 2 INCH off the "modified lifting device" standards.

Blind belief will get one NOWHERE, especially in the exalted realm of "Yoga and the Spiritual Life" and once again, all joy and all gratitude to you for the Wonderful Work you are accomplishing here.

Duke of Dharma, formerly known as Swadhin Gary 1970-1980.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great string and Joe you are very persuasive. However, I think you need to ask why you feel the need to defend CKG so much. You seem to identify your experiences of bliss, an important part of your self-identity, with CKG.

What if he was just acting the entire time? We have heard rumors (Alo to AN) that, in the beginning, he was seen practicing his faces in front of a mirror. This kind of story goes along with many old fables of human nature - people believing a naked emperor was wearing clothes or that soup make only of rocks was very nutricious. We know that our own minds can play tricks. The problem is that it's so hard to admit that we were conned.

Would it be so bad to admit that to ourselves? Yes, thousands of years ago, blind faith in a Guru was the prescription of the day. However, now humanity is much older and wiser - we have science and the constant drive for truth. There is a high standard for personal growth to reach our own highest. Perhaps that old guru fable can be left behind with no regrets.

Scooter

sunirmalya said...

hi folks, i am sorry i am with Celia, but also Y. If ckg was my father and he did what he did, i would still love him, but i am sorry i would be the first to say he should go to jail and he should be prosecuted by a good lawyer like Y.

i have no faith in anything he said or did now because he lied over and over again.

Niklas said...

@Elizabeth,

Must have gotten lost, as I didn't receive it. That's happened to me a couple of times, which is probably just as well 'cause I was pretty fired up and would most likely have gotten the distinction of being the first one to be censored.

sunirmalya said...

for me, the time of master/disciple or teachers higher than their students has gone.

For thousands of years, spirituality has relied on the master and disciple model for disseminating its truths. The idea was simple, that the master understood his sacred role to such an extent that he would try his best to offer the disciple the teachings he needed at precisely at the time he needed them.

It was understood by the disciple that whatever teachings he required would be offered to him by the master. In return he would offer his unswerving devotion and dedication.

In my opinion, the time for this model has passed. It has been unsatisfactory for thousands of years. Not because the master did not try his best, but because it is too narrow and too egoic.

There is a very fundamental trust that the disciple gives to the master that says "value my words or this scripture above your own inner experience" “I know best”. That is the definition of a cult - and I think it is seriously wrong.

sunirmalya said...

Cults, whether political or religious or sporting or fame-driven or spiritual are not helpful because they disempower the individuals own experience and therefore nullify the human conscience, the real and authentic teacher of us all. In effect we are asking another to be our conscience .

It has passed because it relied on incorruptible human beings and we have been found to be flawed in this regard. Just as communism failed and any other autocratic system will fail, it has been found in politics that the best model currently is democratic. And the best democracies are those that are completely transparent to guard against corruption and empower the individual with freedom of information. In spirituality, this democracy is critical.

It has passed also because of the rise of the student. In the past the student had limited access to information. This access was limited because of the small number of people that could read and more than that, the even smaller numbers of books and availability to them. It was also limited by the master, as a means of keeping the student subordinate and in need.

Now literacy rates are in comparison, extremely high. The spread of information and the amount of information via the internet is breathtaking, and to me, it seems, will only increase.
Now the real challenge is to sift through it all and find that which is real and authentic. The real task for us, is to empower ourselves with the faith and trust to believe that we can listen to our own experience, our own conscience in discerning what information is pertinent to us.

This is what I mean by the rise of the student. From the spiritual point of view, we are all students and everyone is our teacher. But where in the past one was felt to be higher and the other lower, in this new model, we are all peers. There is no higher or lower, there are just students learning and growing from every teacher.

This is important because it also disarms the ego. Whereas the ego is always trying to be one inch higher than the next person, and being a teacher means height. The authentically spiritual person realises that we are all one, that we are all at the same level, whether rich or poor, old or young, male or female, black or yellow, blade of grass, pig or bacon, or teacher or student.

To be a student, for me, is my aspiration, because I want to change and grow and learn and evolve and therefore everyone and everything is my teacher.

The self-proclaimed teacher, in truth, is in deficit to the student exactly that amount he feels himself to be superior. He is in deficit because in that moment of ego where he feels himself to be higher, he is lost in that place we can only feel higher, the ego and not the soul.

The student also, faces the same conundrum, because if he places someone higher; than he can only in that moment be in the ego. The soul simply has no higher or lower.

Our teachers in reality are everywhere, but they are not higher or lower, they are our peers; the unravelling of fate, the synchronicity of events, the daily magnificence of the sunrise and sunset, the call of the sparrow, the rise of the moon and the stars, the wind through the leaves, the robber, the murderer, the wretched and suffering, the glorious and famous, the rich and the poor, google and yahoo, we are all students blessed by this magnificent time.

sunirmalya said...

Our teachers are not one soul, even an extremely blessed soul, for no matter how experienced or high they are, we are still experiencing in ways that they cannot, otherwise what would be the point? Our paths are not to be standardised and reduced to one set of dogma or rules, one set of rituals or ceremonies - each of our paths are completely and gloriously different and unique, that is the idea of creation, we are to be all matchless and different senses experiencing and growing so that in oneness we all expand and grow.

We are all one mind but each of us are the different ways of thinking, if we all thought the same, there would be no need for us at all.

So once you recognise the universe is your teacher, you see why the events of our lives are all different, why every one is experiencing even this moment, in this room completely differently, why we each have billions of teachers and we are all students.

Sorry for my rant but i have had 30 years to think about this and i really think our role is not to blame the Guru, any Guru, but grow up and be responsible for ourselves.

We did not hear the alarm bells, or maybe we did, but it was us, not ckg we need to blame.

We gave him the power, when we took away our own.

sunirmalya said...

sorry Y - i am not sure what is going on - can you fix it and maybe edit it down a bit..

Y. said...

Holy Jebus -- what kind of coffee are you brewing down under??

Snark!

Seriously, great posts and lots to think about. I'll let the others chime in and then throw my two cents in the ring.

Had to laugh at the "pig and bacon" reference! (Little inside Facebook joke between the two of us.)

And no, I cannot edit the posts that are submitted, even if I wanted. Keep 'em coming brother!

Y. said...

Dear Scooter,

I'm sorry for my delayed response to your comment. I'd been meaning to respond, but got overcome by events. Thanks for reading.

Why do I feel the need to defend CKG?

Because he changed my life. Because everything good sprang from my disciple life. Because I think ingratitude is a particularly repugnant personal quality.

You say it's hard to admit being conned.

That's true generally, but I think I'm pretty good at admitting things. If I thought -- or if I eventually come to the conclusion -- that I was conned, I'd admit it here. I promise.

I will say this, even if Guru brought nothing else to the table -- even if he was simply the anvil upon which I hammered and forged my own maturity -- I'm grateful for that anvil.

Finally -- and I don't recognize your moniker, but you may be one of these unique people -- if I got nothing else out of the Center than simply meeting the many unique individuals that I did in the Center, it was worth the price of admission (even if that price was nine years of being deceived).

Anonymous said...

I remember Guru saying to throw all our imperfections, impurities, failings, etc. into his consciousness and he would then throw them into the Universal Consciousness to dispose of them.

Could it be he overestimated his capacity to do so, or underestimated our willingness to take him up on the offer, or simply underestimated the amount and intensity of stuff that would eventually be thrown at him?
Perhaps a combination of these.

This is just an idea that came to me which I find intriguing.
I don't mean to offer it as any kind of definitive diagnosis or truth.


Z.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me of the virtue of unconditional acceptance. In my turmoil of these past two weeks I forgot all about the fact that indeed I accepted Guru unconditionally; --in my heart, anyways. Still, had I found out about these things before he passed I would have gladly confronted him publicaly. Unconditional acceptance of one's guru does NOT in any way imply you have to agree with him. You can kick him; spit at him; punch his nose; whatever it takes to make sure he earns your acceptance of him.
Opposite way of our Western way of NOT confronting things; just leaving. Unconditional acceptance implies the opposite: Never leaving, but always confronting.

Anonymous said...

This post pretty much ends this whole subject.

"Cults, whether political or religious or sporting or fame-driven or spiritual are not helpful because they disempower the individuals own experience and therefore nullify the human conscience, the real and authentic teacher of us all. In effect we are asking another to be our conscience .

It has passed because it relied on incorruptible human beings and we have been found to be flawed in this regard. Just as communism failed and any other autocratic system will fail, it has been found in politics that the best model currently is democratic. And the best democracies are those that are completely transparent to guard against corruption and empower the individual with freedom of information. In spirituality, this democracy is critical.

It has passed also because of the rise of the student. In the past the student had limited access to information. This access was limited because of the small number of people that could read and more than that, the even smaller numbers of books and availability to them. It was also limited by the master, as a means of keeping the student subordinate and in need.

Now literacy rates are in comparison, extremely high. The spread of information and the amount of information via the internet is breathtaking, and to me, it seems, will only increase.
Now the real challenge is to sift through it all and find that which is real and authentic. The real task for us, is to empower ourselves with the faith and trust to believe that we can listen to our own experience, our own conscience in discerning what information is pertinent to us.

This is what I mean by the rise of the student. From the spiritual point of view, we are all students and everyone is our teacher. But where in the past one was felt to be higher and the other lower, in this new model, we are all peers. There is no higher or lower, there are just students learning and growing from every teacher.

This is important because it also disarms the ego. Whereas the ego is always trying to be one inch higher than the next person, and being a teacher means height. The authentically spiritual person realises that we are all one, that we are all at the same level, whether rich or poor, old or young, male or female, black or yellow, blade of grass, pig or bacon, or teacher or student.

To be a student, for me, is my aspiration, because I want to change and grow and learn and evolve and therefore everyone and everything is my teacher.

The self-proclaimed teacher, in truth, is in deficit to the student exactly that amount he feels himself to be superior. He is in deficit because in that moment of ego where he feels himself to be higher, he is lost in that place we can only feel higher, the ego and not the soul.

The student also, faces the same conundrum, because if he places someone higher; than he can only in that moment be in the ego. The soul simply has no higher or lower.

Our teachers in reality are everywhere, but they are not higher or lower, they are our peers; the unravelling of fate, the synchronicity of events, the daily magnificence of the sunrise and sunset, the call of the sparrow, the rise of the moon and the stars, the wind through the leaves, the robber, the murderer, the wretched and suffering, the glorious and famous, the rich and the poor, google and yahoo, we are all students blessed by this magnificent time."