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Taking a Stand

When I first set up this section of my website, I wrote various pages giving my impressions at the time of different gurus. e.g. some like Da Free John (now known as Adi Da) and Sathya Sai Baba I considered genuinely enlightened or (in Dai Baba's case) avataric, others I was more cynical or negative of. But on the whole I was pretty naive.

When I was contracted by ex-devotees regarding criticisms of various gurus I incorporated their comments or material, sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes more strongly. Concerning Sai Baba I couldn't really believe that he had done these things, but added a few links anyway. I was shocked to hear of abusive behaviour by Adi Da but reworded the page somewhat to account for this.

The situation became more complex when, I was contacted by a Da devotee concerning the page being critical of Da. I have always found the Da devotees to be very nice people, and this person spoke from the heart (as all the Da devotees I have had contact with do), so I thought okay, and changed the write up again. But then I was later contacted by another ex-devotee who confirmed reports of abuse.

So, trying to balance the feelings of both sides, I decided the best thing was to provide a fair and unbiased, neutral point of view. And when I became embroiled in the controversy regarding Sai Baba I endeavoured to do the same thing. This was before and only just after I had first become involved in Wikipedia link Wikipedia, and I didn't realise it at the time but I was basically following Wikipedia policy of being nice and diplomatic and taking a "neutral point of view".

Well, this may work for Wikipedia, and indeed is the only way to run Wikipedia, where polarised opinions and heated emotions cause arguments, personal attacks and edit wars all the time (as is evident by perusing the talk pages of some of the more controversial topics). The problem is, first of all, that there is no such thing as "neutral point of view". If you are a physicalist you will present a physicalist point of view. IF an esotericist, and esotericist point of view (according to which esoteric system one follows). And so on. Points of view change from person to person, and even a single person will have different points of view at different periods in their life, or even in different situations in their present life.

The idea of a neutral point of view is based on a strictly empirical appraoch that works fine with scientific empirical method and academic research involving references and so on, but fails everywhere else.

Secondly this neutral point of view leads to a sort of sloppily politically correct mishmash in which the views of those with a highly antagonistic perspective are accorded equal value with those who wish to speak out about what is right. No view is better than any other, all are reported, but the reader can be confused because there is no way to diuscriminate truth from falsity. Perhaps this is what Ken Wilber means when he attacks "mean green meme" plurality (although often he uses this as a way to demonise his critics (see e.g. part 2d of my essay on external link Wilber a Four Fold Critique), but I mean maybe the original source of this inspiration, before it got all screwed up)

Anyway, after reading criticisms of Da by Elias, an ex-devotee and someone who comes across as an intelligent guy, I decided to come out and take a critical position re Da. I have since been told that Elias is a fundamentalist Christian, or at least has fundamentalist Christian sympathies, and that not everything he says is reliable. This has made me think that Da page needs some more revision again, although I think the case for Da as an abusive guru is pretty solid.

In the case of Sai Baba, who I had a rather childish religious belief about, it took longer to accept that he was also an abusive guru, but it seems that he his responsible for a huge amount of abuse. The clincher for me however has bene the slanderous and highly abusive, extrenm shadow projecting nature of some of his followers (see e.g. this page, and this link). In the old days, the Sai Baba devotees I knew were all good ad honourable people. It seems however that now more slanderous devotees are vocal over the internet (by email, mail lists, websites, or blogs). While this in no way reflects upon those sincere devotees who are not aware of the allegations against Sai Baba, it did cause me to re-consider my previous belief that a guru or master cannot be judged by their followers.

Thus I have come to the conclusion that, in exposing abusive gurus, as in everything else in life, where there is injustice being done, neutral point of view doesn't cut it, and it is necessary to speak out strongly (but politely and non-emotionalistically, never sinking to the level of those who criticise you for doing so) and take a stand.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 27 September 2006