Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Posts Tagged ‘guru’

Mixed Nuts

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 16, 2010

Today’s Spritzophrenia Street is brought to you by the letter Orange, and the number Fish. It’s a wild, rollicking ride through what I’m currently reading, so lets get started.

The Laughter of God

I will argue that [science and spirituality] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience. Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence. But science is powerless to answer questions such as “Why did the universe come into being?” “What is the meaning of human existence?” “What happens after we die?”

Meditation

continued…

One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen. The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.

First, I should explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.

~ Francis Collins The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) p 6,7

We now move from the sublime to the ridiculous – but perhaps the ridiculous can be spiritually helpful too?

I believe that people who have a good sense of humor are usually intuitive people in general. Show me someone who has no sense of humor, and I will show you a very stiff, boring person with no insight whatsoever.

~ Warren Shiller quoted in Romy Shiller Who Knew (Trafford, 2010) p 32

Could a sense of humour mark the kind of intuition that helps along the spiritual path?

You may have heard the recent news that the bones of John the Baptist have allegedly been found. Barth’s Notes has an amusing piece— amusing because of the language and feisty-ness of the Bulgarian officials, who it seems need tourist dollars. Hence they’re eager to proclaim authenticity. The evidence seems pretty flimsy to me, see Rollston Debunks Stupid John the Baptist’s Bones Claim.

Sorry Bulgaria, writing as someone who is open to the idea that faith could be a valid way of life, “faith” in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is not faith— it’s dogmatism and idiocy.

Speaking of idiocy, Insane Clown Posse’s track Miracles. Thanks to Marty Atheist Climber for alerting me. Mysteries do not prove impossibilities, especially when it appears we aren’t to try and figure them out. I do like some ICP, particularly Let’s Go All The Way, but check these lyrics:

Water, fire, air and dirt
F**king magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherf**kers lying, and getting me pissed

Bahahaha! While perhaps it’s a metaphorical point they’re trying to make, it does come across as celebrating ignorance. Even better, today Marty tweeted me the hilarious SNL spoof of the song:

Eat, Pray, Lust

Following on from the allegations about Eat, Pray, Love

Sex between gurus and disciples is common, sociologists and other experts say. The New Yorker magazine reported in November 1994 that female followers of deceased Swami Muktananda, the man who made Chetanananda a swami, had sex with them. Many devotees later left after learning about the sexual allegations.

~ from here.

I’ve had this in my notes for some time. Now I realise Swami Muktananda is the one who guru-fied Liz Gilbert’s Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (formerly Malti Shetty). Another book in my current pile is a biography about following a guru:

All of the people whom [guru Paul Brunton, alias P.B.] had chosen… as his disciples were singularly favoured. They were to be at the center of the salvation of the universe. There could be no greater honor. This was a universe as simply organised as a boy’s adventure story. I found a similar atmosphere when I read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings years later.

[P.B.] is not an egregious example of a false prophet. The story I have to tell about him is not an exposé in the classic sense, although I have nothing against such exposés. Tales by insiders of what really goes on in these cults are not only fascinating gossip, they are instructive of the kind of world this spirituality builds. … I was able to observe, especially in me and my father and in Paul Brunton, the clash, the romanticism, and the ultimate tragedy of these attempts to escape the imperfections of the human condition. I was a direct participant, and I did not escape its consequences.

~Jeffrey Masson My Father’s Guru: A Journey through Spirituality and Disillusion (Harper Collings, 1993) p xiv, xv

Things Mistaken for Meditation

Another misguided notion about meditation is that it’s about becoming enlightened.

You can’t become enlightened. It’s not possible.

You can’t become enlightened for the same reason that you can’t come into contact with Truth: you’re already here, immersed in it. It’s like trying to become human, or searching high and low for air.

When we search for enlightenment, we’re like a fish searching for water or a bird seeking the sky. Enlightenment isn’t something you can pursue. And, anyway, you don’t need to, because it’s already right where you are. Meditation is not about straining or striving for some special state of mind. It’s about letting our habitual striving drop away and simply experiencing what’s present before we make anything of it.

~ Steve Hagen Meditation: Now or Never (HarperOne, 2007) p 21

I’ve begun a very basic practice of meditation, after I get up in the morning. I’ve been quietly pleased with my progress so far, no doubt this is the ‘beginners luck’ that most new practices enjoin. Perhaps I’ll report back sometime, if this blog is about searching for higher reality it will pay me to occasionally record such things.

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Tell me in the comments

Which of the above tickled your buttons? Have a great day y’all.

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Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, cosmology, God, Hinduism, humor, humour, personal development, Science, spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Misconduct in Eat Pray Love’s Guru?

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 15, 2010

Just a quick update to note I’ve updated my Eat Pray Love post to include some criticisms from Salon.

“What [readers of EPL] probably won’t know is that the unnamed guru is a hugely controversial figure who has disappeared from public view amid allegations of manipulation, financial misconduct and intimidation. And as that guru’s organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA), has come under fire, her own guru … has been accused of sexual abuse, molestation and sexual intercourse with minor girls.”

Intriguing…

Posted in ethics, Hinduism, Sociology | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Eat, Pray, Love

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 12, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert’s title speaks of simple human needs and I really wanted to call this “Eat Poo, Love”. I can’t, because I like her book. It’s about the best Western-based introduction to Hinduism you can buy, not to mention it’s great true-life chick lit; beginning with unhappy marriage and bitter divorce and ending with finding twue wove, it deserves its best-seller status. Whatever one may think of her religious experiences Gilbert is no bimbo, between the lines she shows she’s read and thought deeper than Deepak Chopra 101.

Now Julia Roberts has made the film. I suppose I’ll see it at some point but I’m sorry Julia, you’re just not who I see in that role. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the religious stuff is squashed into something fairly shallow by its Hollywoodisation. Who am I kidding, the book is always better than the film. Apparently Julia’s nervous no-one will see it, poor thing.

Facebook chatting with famous Chicago actress friend Kara, she told me “This store near me is selling Indian things and Indonesian things with the Eat Pray Love tag – buy a journal, buy a meditation mat, just like the book! BLAH.” The irony wasn’t lost on me. I replied, “This movie is all about giving up material things and going to an ashram. So here, BUY SOME STUFF.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

The book is a good introduction to Hinduism because it gives a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for a (Western) Hindu, a religion I find quite hard to fathom given it’s huge age, diversity and – to be honest – weirdness. I respect the fact she hasn’t identified her guru or the ashram, I think there’s integrity in that. Her guru is a woman, surprisingly. How common is that in Hinduism, anyone know? Another good book on Hinduism is Huston Smith’s The World Religions, which is the first book that really got me inside the Hindu mindset.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter where she probably had her trippiest experience. Much of her book is a little more mundane, so I wouldn’t want to misrepresent her.

As a reader and seeker, I always get frustrated at this moment in somebody else’ spiritual memoirs – that moment in which the soul excuses itself from time and place and merges with the infinite. … I don’t want to say that what I experienced that Thursday afternoon in India was indescribable, even though it was. I’ll try to explain anyway. Simply put, I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in the rush I suddenly understood the workings of the universe completely. I left my body, I left my room, I left the planet, I stepped through time and entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The void was conscious and it was intelligent. The void was God, which means that I was inside God. But not in a gross, physical way – not like I was Liz Gilbert stuck inside a chunk of God’s thigh muscle. I just was part of God. In addition to being God, I was both a tiny piece of the universe and exactly the same size as the universe. (“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir – and I can personally attest now that this is true.)

It wasn’t hallucinogenic, what I was feeling. It was the most basic of events. It was heaven, yes. It was the deepest love I’ve ever experienced, beyond anything I could have previously imagined, but it wasn’t euphoric.

I wondered, “Why have I been chasing happiness my whole life when bliss was here the entire time?”

I don’t know how long I hovered in this magnificent ether of union before I had a sudden urgent thought: “I want to hold on to this experience forever!” And that’s when I started to tumble out of it. Just those two little words – I want! – and I began to slide back to earth.

Eat, Pray, Love pages 208 – 210

How can you portray that in a film?

[Edit:] Thanks to Jon, who alerted me to Salon’s allegations about her Guru: “Accusations of financial misconduct, sex abuse scandals: The dark history of Elizabeth Gilbert’s yoga mentor”.

“What [readers of EPL] probably won’t know is that the unnamed guru is a hugely controversial figure who has disappeared from public view amid allegations of manipulation, financial misconduct and intimidation. And as that guru’s organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA), has come under fire, her own guru … has been accused of sexual abuse, molestation and sexual intercourse with minor girls.”

It seems Liz probably attended an ashram of this Siddha Yoga organisation, and there is a website for those who feel abused by this group. I’ve also been keeping an eye on Guruphiliac for some time, but don’t know if it has anything on Eat, Pray, Love.

What do you think? Perhaps you consider her more of a “New Age” adherent, rather than Hindu? That would be a good thing to discuss in the comments.

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We were talking about music as a gateway recently. Here’s another one you might find takes you there.

Jeff Buckley, covering of course, the masterful Leonard Cohen

Posted in agnostic, Hinduism, movies, New Age, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Sex Cult Man Arrested

Posted by spritzophrenia on February 9, 2010

Goel Ratzon sits in a Tel Aviv jail accused of enslaving women in some kind of religious cult. The “Saviour” (as Goel means in Hebrew) is accused of various crimes and bizarre activities with the women in his harem:

The women tattooed his name and portrait on their bodies and gave their children his name – Saviour.
They spoon-fed the bearded, one-time healer as if he were royalty, brushed his shoulder-length white locks, sent him text messages when they were ovulating and slept with him at his bidding.

They turned over wages and welfare payments to him and lived in cramped, rundown Tel Aviv apartments with the children they bore him. According to police, he fathered some of his own daughters’ children.

With tongue in cheek Radar suggests that “assuming that the charges of enslavement, human trafficking, rape and incest are baseless, and that there is nothing untoward going on (other than the polygamy), could this not be considered an unorthodox but suitable arrangement if it worked for all of those involved?

As Brian Hines writes, there’s no perfect living master. Although perhaps his title begs the question? “I have no evidence of the perfect god-man” is not the same as saying “there is no perfect god-man”. Having been in a very mild sort of cult myself briefly I can see how easy it can be to get sucked into something which denies freedom of thought. Among other complexities I think there’s always some kind of power distortion going on in this sort of thing. It’s worth a browse of Guruphiliac from time to time, to remind ourselves of the number of charlatans and downright dangerous people out there.

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listening to Kraftwerk | Autobahn

Posted in agnostic, Hinduism, Sociology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »