STRIPPING THE GURUS
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CHAPTER I

SPEAK NO EVIL



The wicked are wicked no doubt, and they go astray, and they fall, and they come by their desserts. But who can tell the mischief that the very virtuous do?

—William Makepeace Thackeray


ONE WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE that our world’s recognized saints and sages have the best interests of everyone at heart in their thoughts and actions.

One would also like to believe that the same “divinely loving” and enlightened figures would never distort truth to suit their own purposes, and would never use their power to take advantage (sexually or otherwise) of their followers. They would, that is, be free of the deep psychological quirks, prejudices, hypocrisy and violence which affect mere mortals.

One would further hope that the best of our world’s sages would be able to distinguish between valid mystical perceptions and mere hallucinations, and that the miracles and healings which they have claimed to have effected have all actually occurred.

Sadly, none of those hopes stand up to even the most basic rational scrutiny.

Thus, it has come to be that you are holding in your hands an extremely evil book.

It is so, simply because it attempts to expose, to a wider audience, the worst of the alleged abuses which various “god-men” have reportedly visited upon their followers, and on the world at large, over the past century or more.

In tracing that line of degeneracy more or less chronologically, from the introduction of Eastern philosophy into Western thought and action up to the present day, we will meet the following “saints and sages”:

  • Ramakrishna, whose worship of the Divine Mother did not exclude comparable ritual veneration for his own penis, or an equal interest in fondling the genitals of his male followers

  • The brothel-visiting Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s chief disciple, who first brought yoga to America via the 1893 World’s Fair, and thus paved the way into the West for all following Eastern teachers

  • Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Theosophical Society’s eagerly anticipated “World Teacher,” who later broke from that organization, fully repudiating it, and then embarked on a quarter-century affair with a woman whom he believed to be the reincarnation of his late mother

  • Japanese Zen masters and scholars, whose support of the use of Zen principles in the training of the Japanese military during times of war, and reported physical abuse of disciples in times of peace, will give us serious pause

  • Satchidananda, the “Woodstock Swami,” who repudiated drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, but reportedly retained a fondness for sex with his female disciples

  • The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, famed for his involvement with the Beatles, his alleged failed attempt at seducing Mia Farrow, and his efforts at teaching the “real magic” of levitation to the late magician Doug Henning, among others

  • Swami Rama, renowned for his purported demonstration of parapsychological abilities under Elmer and Alyce Green in the 1970s, as another “holy celibate” who apparently couldn’t keep his robes on

  • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who reportedly once admitted, while sniffing laughing gas to get high, that he was “so relieved to not have to pretend to be enlightened any more”

  • Satya Sai Baba, whose claimed “miracles” have included raising people from the dead, producing streams of “sacred ash” from his hands—a feat easily replicated by secular magicians—and allegedly molesting hundreds of young boys

  • Sri Chinmoy, the “stunt man of the spiritual world,” whose disciples to this day periodically canvass campuses across North America with flyers touting the purported benefits of meditation under his guidance

  • Buddhist monks in Thailand, who have been known to proudly exhibit expensive collections of antique cars, and to don disguises, sneak out to local karaoke bars, and be caught with pornography, alcohol, sexual paraphernalia, and more than one woman at a time

  • Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, whose FBI files contained the observation, “appears mental”

  • Werner Erhard, originator of est group training, who brought us the phrase, “Thank you for sharing”

  • Yogi Bhajan, the claimed “only living master of white tantric yoga in the world”

  • Chögyam Trungpa, who brought Tibetan Buddhism to America, and proceeded to drink himself into an early grave

  • Swami Muktananda, whose ashram living quarters in India reportedly contained a well-used secret passageway to the adjacent young girls’ dormitory

  • Muktananda’s name-changing disciple Adi Da (Da Free John, Da Love-Ananda, etc.), whose “crazy wisdom” exploits propelled him to exile in Fiji in the mid-’80s, following allegations of sexual abuse

  • Andrew Cohen, whose own Jewish mother has regarded his closed, authoritarian spiritual community as embodying a “fascist mind-set,” with its members behaving like “Gestapo agents.” (Such closed communities are of homogeneous beliefs, have little exchange of ideas with the outside world, and possess no option of questioning the leader while still remaining a member in good standing. Further, to leave the community is typically claimed to be to throw away one’s only “chance in this lifetime for enlightenment” [van der Braak, 2003].) She has further rejected Cohen’s claims of enlightenment, comparing him instead to the “cult” leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh, and even to Adolf Hitler

  • Ken Wilber, the “Einstein of consciousness studies,” who has at times spoken with unbridled enthusiasm for the effects of discipline under both Adi Da and Cohen

  • Yogi Amrit Desai, formerly of the Kripalu yoga center, whose followers there, when news of the claimed sexual activities between the married Desai and his devotees surfaced, displayed unique discrimination in reportedly forcing him to leave the center he himself had founded

  • Assorted sexually active Roman Catholic priests—pedophile, ephebophile and otherwise

  • The Findhorn community in Scotland, which actually functions without a guru-figure, arguably doing more good than harm for exactly that reason

  • Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, whose troubled ashrams the present author can speak of from first-hand experience

With only a few exceptions, the above figures have taught authentic Eastern philosophy of one variety or another. They have further been widely recognized and duly advertised as possessing high degrees of spiritual realization. Indeed, one can easily find loyal followers singing the praises of each of these individuals and paths, in books and sanctioned websites. (Both Steven Hassan’s www.freedomofmind.com site and Rick A. Ross’s www.culteducation.com have many such links to “official” websites.) To find the reported “dirt” on each of them, however, requires a fair bit more effort. Nevertheless, it is those alleged worst aspects, not the often-advertised best, which leave formerly devoted disciples picking up the pieces of their shattered lives, and wondering aloud how they could ever have been so blind as to buy into the “perfect master’s” propaganda in the first place.

This is, therefore, a very “dirty” book. For, it presents not only the representative (and, after a while, completely unbelievable) claims to perfection or God-realization of each of the forty or so major and minor “authentic” spiritual figures considered herein, but also the alleged shortcomings of each, as those have affected their followers. Obviously, then, to cover all of that in a single text requires that only the most grandiose of the claims, and the worst of the foibles and alleged abuses, of each “sage” be mentioned herein.

Unless one enjoys seeing other people suffer—or effecting or reliving one’s own process of disillusionment—however, this is not going to be pretty. For, in probing this lineage, we will find legions of alleged emotional, physical and sexual abuses perpetrated “in the name of God,” by persons neither impotent nor omnipotent, yet claiming to be “one with God.”

By the end of all this unpleasantness, then, at least one thing will undoubtedly be clear. That is, that with “gods” like these, we do not need devils. For, every evil which one might otherwise ascribe to Satan or Maya has allegedly been perpetrated by one or another “God-realized avatar” or ostensibly “perfected being.”

Of course, the forthcoming shocking disclosures will predictably result in a good amount of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” among obedient followers. Indeed, that is to be expected particularly among loyal adherents to each path for whom the “perfection” and infallibility of their own leader is not open to questioning, even if they may allow that none of the other “sagely” individuals considered herein are what they claim to be. (Part of the value of grouping all of these pretenses and alleged abuses together in a single book is exactly that one can see that the “unique” claims of one’s own path are also being made, equally untenably, by numerous other paths.) Nevertheless, if we are really interested in truth, we should still welcome having the hypocrisies and (alleged) abusive evils of persons in positions of spiritual authority be laid bare to the world. Exposing them to the public eye, after all, is the only way to get them to stop.

Thus, “onward and evil-ward.”


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