«STRIPPING THE GURUS Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment* Ramakrishna was a homoerotic pedophile. His chief disciple, Vivekananda, visited brothels in ...»
STRIPPING THE GURUS
Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment*
Ramakrishna was a homoerotic pedophile.
His chief disciple, Vivekananda, visited brothels in India.
Krishnamurti carried on an affair for over twenty years with the
wife of a close friend. Chögyam Trungpa drank himself into an early
grave. One of Adi Da’s nine “wives” is a former Playboy centerfold.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh sniffed laughing gas to get high. Andrew Cohen, guru and publisher of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, by his own reported admission sometimes feels “like a god.” These are typical of the “wizened sages” to whom otherwise-sensible people give their devotion and unquestioning obedience, surrendering their independence, willpower, and life’s savings in the hope of realizing for themselves the same “enlightenment” as they ascribe to the “perfect, God-realized” master.
Is it for being emotionally vulnerable and “brainwashed,” as the “anti-cultists” assert? Or for being “willingly psychologically seduced,” as the apologists unsympathetically counter, confident that they themselves are “too smart” to ever fall into the same trap? Or have devotees simply walked, with naïvely open hearts and thirsty souls, into inherent psychological dynamics of power and obedience which have showed themselves in classic psychological studies from Milgram to Zimbardo, and to which each one of us is susceptible every day of our lives?
Like the proud “Rude Boy” Cohen allegedly said, with a laugh, in response to the nervous breakdown of one of his devoted followers: “It could happen to any one of you.” Don’t let it happen to you. Don’t get suckered in. Be prepared. Be informed. Find out what reportedly goes on behind the scenes in even the best of our world’s spiritual communities.
You can start by reading this book.
* The inclusion of any particular individual in Stripping the Gurus is not meant to suggest or imply that he or she represents him- or herself as a guru, nor is it meant to suggest or imply that he or she has indulged in sex, violence, the abuse of others, or any other illegal or immoral activities.
Praise for Stripping the Gurus Armed with wit, insight, and truly astonishing research, Geoffrey Falk utterly demolishes the notion of the enlightened guru who can lead devotees to nirvana. This entertaining and yet deadly serious book should be read by everyone pursuing or thinking of pursuing the path of guru devotion.
—John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism Stripping the Gurus is superb—one of the best books of its kind I have ever read. The research is meticulous, the writing engaging, and the overall thesis: devastatingly true. A stellar book.
—Dr. David C. Lane, California State University
No one involved in contemporary spirituality can afford to ignore this book. It exposes the darker side of modern spiritual movements, those embarrassing—sometime vicious or criminal—reports which the leaders of these movements prefer to hide. With wit and humility, and without abandoning the verities of religion, Falk has provided a corrective critique of groups that peddle enlightenment and transcendence. A must!
—Len Oakes, author of Prophetic Charisma STRIPPING THE GURUS Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment* GEOFFREY D. FALK * The inclusion of any particular individual in this book is not meant to suggest or imply that he or she represents him- or herself as a guru, nor is it meant to suggest or imply that he or she has indulged in sex, violence, the abuse of others, or any other illegal or immoral activities.
Million Monkeys Press Copyright © 2009 by Geoffrey D. Falk. Earlier versions © 2005–2008 by Geoffrey D. Falk.
Published by Million Monkeys Press P.O. Box 68586 360A Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M5S 3C9 Web: www.strippingthegurus.com ISBN 978-0-9736203-3-7 (pdf) ISBN 978-0-9736203-1-3 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-9736203-2-0 (paperback) This eBook is copyrighted, and may not be distributed in printed or bound form, nor sold in any other form (including electronic formats), without the explicit written permission of the author, Geoffrey D. Falk.
Trademarks: “TM” and “Transcendental Meditation” are service marks registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation. “Coke” is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Company.
Credits and permissions can be found on the Permissions page (p. 509), which constitutes an extension of the copyright page.
Chapter I Speak No Evil
II A Bit of a Booby
III The Handsome Duckling
IV Mother Dearest
V The Krinsh
VI Zen in the Art of Sex and Violence
VII Sex, Bliss, and Rock ‘n’ Roll
VIII The Sixth Beatle
IX Been Here, Done That, What Now?
XI Even If It Happened....
XII Mo’ Chin-Ups
XIII Thai Surprise
XIV Battlefield Teegeeack
XV Werner’s Uncertainty Principle
XVI Cockroach Yoga
XVII A Wild and Crazy Wisdom Guy
XVIII Sixty Minutes
XIX The Mango Kid
XX Da Avatar, Da Bomb, Da Bum
XXI Sometimes I Feel Like a God
iii iv STRIPPING THE GURUS XXII Hello, Dalai!
XXIII Up the Asana
XXIV Sodomy and Gomorrah
XXV Of Cabbages and Nature Sprites
XXVI... To a Nunnery
XXVII Gurus and Prisoners
XXVIII Spiritual Choices
XXIX After the Ordeal
XXX Make It Better
Essential Online Resources
About the Author
INTRODUCTIONONE OF MY DEAR, late mother’s most memorable expressions, in attempting to get her children to behave, was simply: “Be sure your sins will find you out.” It may take a minute, an hour, a day, a year, ten years or more, but eventually the details of one’s behaviors are likely to surface. Whether one’s public face is that of a saint or a sinner, ultimately “the truth will out.” This book, then, concerns the alleged sins which have been concealed behind the polished façades of too many of our world’s “saintly and sagely” spiritual leaders and their associated communities, with a marked focus on North America over the past century.
Why, though, would anyone write such a book as this? Why not just “focus on the good,” and work on one’s own self-transformation instead?
First of all, one hopes to save others from the sorrow inherent in throwing their lives away in following these figures. Even the most elementary bodhisattva vow, for the liberation of others from suffering, would leave one with no moral choice but to do one’s part in that. Likewise, even the most basic understanding as to the nature of “idiot compassion” would preclude one from ignoring these reported problems just to be “nice” or avoid offending others.
As a former follower of Carlos Castaneda eloquently put it, in relating the depressing and disillusioning story of her experiences
with him, amid her own “haunting dreams of suicide”:
[I]f some reader, somewhere, takes a moment’s pause and halts before handing over his or her free will to another, it will all have counted for something (Wallace, 2003).
Or, as Margery Wakefield (1991) expressed her own opinion:
As trite as it may sound, if I can prevent even one other person, especially a young person, from having to live through the nightmare of Scientology—then I will feel satisfied.
Second, I personally spent the worst nine months of my life at one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s approved southern California ashrams (i.e., hermitages/monasteries), and have still not recovered fully from that awful experience. I thus consider this as part of my own healing process. That is, it is part of my dealing with the after-effects of the “wisdom” meted out in that environment by its loyal, “God-inspired” participants.
Third, with my own background in Eastern philosophy, we may hope to do all this without misrepresenting the metaphysical ideas involved. With or without that, though, it is not the validity of the theoretical ideas of each path which are, in general, of concern here. Rather, of far greater interest are the ways in which the leaders espousing those ideas have applied them in practice, frequently to the claimed detriment of their followers.
Fourth, the mapping of reported ashram behaviors to psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s classic prison study, as presented in the “Gurus and Prisoners” chapter, yields significant insights into the origins and pervasiveness of the alleged problems cataloged herein.
Fifth, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, if we eliminate everything which is impossible, then what is left, however improbable it may appear, must be the case. Becoming aware of the reported issues with our world’s “sages” and their admirers, then, eliminates many pleasant but “impossible” hopes one may have with regard to the nature of spirituality and religion.
This book will not likely change the mind of any loyal disciple of any of the spiritual figures and paths specifically addressed herein. Indeed, no amount of evidence of alleged abuse or hypocrisy on the part of those leaders could do so, for followers who are convinced that they have found “God in the flesh,” in their spiritual hero.
INTRODUCTION vii This text may, however, touch some of those devotees who are already halfway to realizing what is going on around them. And more importantly, in quantitative good, it may give a “heads up” to persons who would otherwise be suckered in by the claims of any particular “God-realized being”—as I myself was fooled, once upon a time. And thus, it may prevent them from becoming involved with the relevant organization(s) in the first place.
Ultimately, the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach to life simply allows the relevant problems to continue. No one should ever turn a blind eye to secular crimes of forgery, incest, rape or the like. Much less should those same crimes be so readily excused or forgiven when they are alleged to occur in spiritual contexts. That is so particularly when they are claimed to be perpetrated by leaders and followers insisting that they have “God on their side,” and that any resistance to their reported blunders or rumored power-tripping abuses equates to being influenced by Maya/Satan.
To say nothing in the face of evil, after all, is to implicitly condone it. Or equally, as the saying goes, “For evil to triumph in this world, it is only necessary for good people to do nothing.”
In the words of Albert Einstein:
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
The alert reader will further note that, aside from my own relatively non-scandalous (but still highly traumatic) personal experiences at Hidden Valley, all of the allegations made herein— none of which, to my knowledge, except where explicitly noted, have been proved in any court of law—have already been put into print elsewhere in books and magazine articles. In all of those cases, I am relying in good faith on the validity of the extant, published research of the relevant journalists and ex-disciples. I have made every effort to present that existing reported data without putting any additional “spin” on it, via juxtapositions or otherwise.
After all, the in-print (alleged) realities, in every case, are jawdropping enough that no innuendo or taking-out-of-context would have ever been required in order to make our world’s “god-men” look foolish.
viii STRIPPING THE GURUS
As the Dalai Lama (1999) expressed his own opinion, regarding the value of such investigative journalism:
I respect and appreciate the media’s interference.... It is appropriate... to have journalists... snooping around and exposing wrongdoing where they find it. We need to know when this or that renowned individual hides a very different aspect behind a pleasant exterior.
As to the quantity of reported “sins” covered uncomplimentarily herein, please appreciate that I myself am, in general, in no way anti-drug, anti-alcohol, anti-dildo, anti-secret-passageway-to-thewomen’s-dormitory, anti-whorehouse or anti-orgy, etc. It is simply obvious, by now, that any of those, when put into the hands of “god-men” who have carved islands of absolute power for themselves in the world, only make an already dangerous situation much worse.
Of course, all such protests to the contrary, it is the very nature of the gathering and publicizing of information such as this that one will be regarded as being either puritanical or shadowprojecting for doing so. Why else, after all, would anyone object to guru-disciple sex, etc., in situations where the “non-divine” party too often is a psychological child in the relationship, unable to say “No”?
The guideline that “all’s fair among consenting adults so long as no one gets hurt” is reasonable enough. So then simply ask yourself as you read this book: In how many, if any, of the environments covered here has no one “gotten hurt”?
Finally, with regard to the use of humor herein, the late Christopher Reeve put it appropriately: “When things are really bad, you have to laugh.”
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.
2 STRIPPING THE GURUSIt 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
• 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