Monday, May 19, 2014

Sai Baba, Spiritual Authoritarianism, and Gurus in General.........

I recently watched the documentary below about Sai Baba, the Indian Guru who had a massive following throughout India as well as in other countries, and who we now know was a pedophile who sexually abused many young boys, which was covered up.  Fascinating how followers of Sai Baba (at least, at the time of this  documentary) were immune to any criticism or allegations of their guru.  "To them it was just another test of their faith". That same "faith" can be seen in the faces of those who cheered on Adolph Hitler - he too became an idealized "Father" ("Der Fuerer"), and another  "God Man".  I reflect on the ways "faith" has become a pseudonym for all kinds of abuse, regardless of the form it takes, and this unyielding "faith" is, in its essence, related to the hierarchy and authoritarianism intrinsic to patriarchal culture, whether it occurs in India, Texas, or Germany. 

  Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad   are heroes of mine, because their writings so deeply embody true "new paradigm" thinking.  They coined the term "renunciate religions", used to describe doctrines in  religious systems that, hidden or blatant, teach us to renounce  nature, the body, sex and material existence as either not sacred, not heavenly, or "not real".  Since woman is the source of birth, all of these aspects of being alive on the Earth are usually associated with the untrustworthy feminine.   In patriarchal religions from ancient Greece on forward, sexual  "purity" is highly valued,  and women are scapegoated and distrusted, one way or another,  for inspiring sexual desire. 

In their book THE GURU PAPERS they so elegantly "unmask" these deeply embedded  aspects of contemporary religion and mysticism.  And as they point out, "renunciate" and authoritarian  systems of religious thought are a profound disaster for contemporary times, for the environmental crisis, because they are so very inappropriate for the environment, for a global society, and for women.***  

As they point out as well, the emphasis on "purity", whether a Hindu Guru or a Catholic  priest, usually results in abuse of power and its denial.

"Lying about sex is so rampant in every culture that structures what is sexually permitted it is commonplace to be inured to it and accept such lying as a given. But it is the lie, not the sex, that's the real issue.  The lie indicates the guru’s entire persona is a lie, that his image as selfless and being beyond ego is a core deception.  Many think that though a guru lies about his personal behavior, his message is still essentially true. Lying here as elsewhere is done to cover up self-interest.  If  the guru’s message is that purity without self-interest is the ultimate achievement, not only did he not achieve it,but he does not even know if it is achievable.  If being self-centered is an unavoidable aspect of being human, then any ideology that denies this will necessarily corrupt its promoters and believers.This why images of "purity"are always corrupt." **


**The Guru Papers:  Masks of Authoritarian Power 

          by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

Guru Cover 1/99The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very ideals people try to live by. Thus our basic problems are not the inevitable outcome of human nature, but rather are shown to stem from deep authoritarian implants. This offers new grounds for hope. The Guru Papers powerfully attests that unmasking and decoding hidden authoritarianism can disempower it, increasing the range of human freedom and possibility. The book also elegantly argues that this process is essential for human survival.


 ***  Witness the strange relationship conservative Christians and evangelicals make between Biblical thinking and the denial of climate change.


old pajamas said...

Bravo, bravo, thank you....old pajamas

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Onto my book list this one goes! I get so tired of old white men denying the reality of climate change, trying to overturn Obamacare, refusing the hike the minimum wage... the old paradigm sure isn't going out with a whimper.