Note - this was posted when I still felt more positively about Sathya Sai Baba - I have since revised my opinion; full story here.
Over the years many folks have written me to say, "I read a book by an ex-disciple who tells of his experiences with the Sai Baba. Some of the experiences (of a sexual nature) are shattering my belief system."
My view is that 'belief systems' which are based on secondhand stories deserve to be shattered because they can never support actuality
Belief systems that do not support reality are most useful when they are outgrown. So, I say to my correspondents, do you want to outgrow yours in due course or do you want to burst it before the chrysalis opens? You see, more than one person has expressed alarm after having read Tal Brook's opus, "Lord of the Air", and some have felt `oh no, there goes my faith'. One can almost hear the chrysalis pop as doubt grows
But then, that is after all Tal's function: to bring doubt up and into view, and to bring it up sooner rather than later
To aid that burgeoning effect, among Tal's fans it is now claimed that "all (3000) original copies of his first book were mysteriously destroyed"-- as if some Darth Vadar like force had made the books vanish,or as if Tal is now a hero for making that book available, ( and for only $15.00-- a mere nine times the cost before the entire first printing mysteriously vanished.)
Frankly the claim that Tal was "silenced" is absurd, in that Tal has been talking for a long, long time. Besides, I bought one of those 3000 allegedly destroyed copies in Higgenbottoms Books on MG Road in Bangalore, right out in the open, in 1978, long after the books were supposedly "destroyed.". I suggest therefore that Tal had not been the "victim" of any dark force other than the green kind: money and envy. By that I mean that when Tal first published LORD OF THE AIR, he made no money on it, drew attention from but few carpers in India, but then a few years later apparently saw the bucks and the attention to be gotten from American fundamentalists. Poof. "All the copies vanished", but are now available (at much higher cost)
Surely Tal deserves that, because according to Tal he is but an humble evangelist battling against Satan, waging holy war against all those dark forces that want to Silence The Son of God, battling like a simple man against mighty odds, with nary but a quill and a will. [cough]
I note that any humility in that battle, however, has never been Tal's strong suit, since he intimates in print and on tv over and over, that Tal was THE number one disciple of Sai Baba-- or when Tal explains that the HEAD of the Ramakrishna Order was "prepared" to hand him monkhood, presto, just like that. Further, Tal is not surprised at any honour, since he was just soooo "spiritually advanced", doncha know. (For those unfamiliar with the Ramakrishna Order, Tal's story is like claiming the Pope saw you in a crowd, came over to you and said, "You, yes You, I know you are not Catholic, but because you are so holy, I am naming You as Cardinal of Rome, now". Still, if you were like Tal, you would turn it down, as a station not becoming a person so Chosen and Special and Humble as yourself.)
As far as I can tell, Tal's "humility" is like that; it is paramount to hubris-- at any rate, his fundamentalist talkshow appearances as well as his later books evidence why I hold that impression
But no matter how proud or humble the fellow seems, at least Tal speaks from his own first-hand experience when he relates gossip. That establishes another honour for Tal: it makes him unlike the vast majority of all other online critics, in that Tal went to see Sai Baba for himself, (even though he later altered the experience to fan his fantasy. In his later stories, Tal enhances his 14 months in India into either `many years of intense discipleship under Sai Baba' or as `several years of close personal intimacy with Sai Baba'). Nowadays on talk shows Tal almost always "mentions" that he was 'the number one western disciple of Sai Baba'-- a title which is not only bogus, (and is a title which Tal alone gave himself), but which is a status noone else with him in India attended
In whatever way fourteen months has now become several years, or however whichaway scant interest in his first book somehow becomes `satanic forces arrayed against Tal', his later efforts do show he has since advanced in one area in particular: he has learned the value of using "doubt" as his shill. But then, that is after all Tal's function: to bring doubt up and into view, and to bring it up sooner rather than later
Since you have read this far in my webpage, you know I feel doubt is very valuable, and certainly is not to be feared nor ignored. At least, that is true about doubt which arises from one's own experience. Doubt that rises due to gossip, as Tal's doubts example, is however just a word-vampire's delight: it feeds on assumption, not fact, and leads to delusion, not clarity
Still, over the years I have come across many folks who say, "I read a book by Tal Brooke in which he tells of his experiences with the Sai Baba. Some of the experiences (of a sexual nature) are shattering my belief system." GOOD! Why? Why because it is good to stop imagining things. For example, some folks imagine Tal tells of his own experiences `of a sexual nature with Sai Baba.' That simply is not in the book. My correspondent, having read Tal's Press Releases, might then say, "Well, maybe so, but still Tal renounced the Baba and then turned to Christ and only then wrote this book."
I might then reply: "Do you think so? It looks to me like Tal simply re-wrote his journal, changing specifics here and there for drama, but please, tell me: What is it about Tal that convinces you he has turned to Jesus? As far as I can tell, Tal is using Jesus now in the same way he tried to use Sai then: as a front man. Tal is still promoting Tal; that is what he has ever done. Tal says he was The Number One Western Disciple Of Sathya Sai Baba, yet in fact he was neither numero uno, nor was he a disciple, nor was he chosen to be the Saint Paul of the Sai movement (as he ever strives to paint himself). So, please, just look closely at what Tal tells, and does not tell. For example, do you find him making any mention of Jack Hislop ?"
If, however, you yet enjoy Tal's doubts, then know there are also three or four other such authors (such as Beyerstein and Premanand -- although Tal is unique in believing that Swami does real miracles-- because Sai is, according to Tal, The Devil incarnate. The other carpers assert only that Swami is "just a fake out for the cash".) What matters to me however is not what others "report" second or third-hand, but what I experience
Does your experience matter to you? If so, then what have men like Brooke or Beyerstein to do with you? Since you have read my webpage, surely you know I will say, "examine *your* heart, examine _your_ experience, experience YOUR doubt. If you go around picking up the doubts of others so eagerly, then when will you ever address your own?
One devotee read the first few chapters of Tal's first book, then wrote to me saying, "I am torn and do not know what to think." My reply is that then it is high time you looked very closely at the basis of your beliefs, is it not? That is the way to avoid any further tears. Why fear? After all, the TRUTH will set you free, you know
"My faith in Baba was just growing and now I'm very confused."
Faith that is not based in your own direct experience is not faith at all, it is imagination. Faith however will come when you root out imagination; it will come as a RESULT of your inquiry into the BASIS of your present doubts. So rather than fretting, I suggest this Tal story could be a very good thing for you, if you will undertake genuine sadhana and enquire within. "I'll bet you never expected to get this kind of letter." Ok, but please note that perhaps because I am so vocal online, I get letters from truly regal doubters more often than you can imagine. I think folks like to tell me about their secondhand doubts because they know I went through the same thing when I first heard Tal's tale. (Tal is very good at what he does: sprouting doubts.) In the spiritual realm, like can attract like-- you know
Relax; the truth is greater and more wonderful than any story anyone can spin-- and the truth is so far beyond gossip and fiction that doubt itself shudders in fear of seeing itself unmasqued
Enquire within. Enquiry ends doubt
But perhaps that sounds too distant or cold. If so, then for another view of the time Tal talks about, consider the first hand report of a fellow present there with Tal, but who saw it a mite differently than Tal did. The book is GOOD CHANCES , and is available from Toronto Bookstore. Still, since you have interest in Tal, you may know he has many more books at his own site , including a newsletter, videos, and cassettes, plus ample sermons
Whatever you decide, my hope is that the Lord of all beings ever blesses you with His Loving Presence, so that doubt is seen as a conscious tool, not a hidden master
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