I have not posted on here for a long time. However, I do check from time to time to see what's going on, and if perhaps someone I might know has come forward. I have been very impressed with cultreporter's dedication and determination to expose as much information in regard to Chris Butler & Science of Identity in general as possible...I say BRAVO! So I find myself wanting to particpate by posting this piece of information. While crusing online, I found this article...it was not "by chance" that I found this...I was trying to find information on what is currently going on with Chris' devotees. As cultreporter has pointed out, many businesses that are currently operating are being run by Chris' disciples...and probably a fact that the general public that happen upon them do not know. I am not posting this entire article, as it is quite long...but you can look it up if you want to read the whole thing.
This is from this guy's personal blog...he's apparently trying out a bit of everything...this was his experience with Bhakti Yoga, and it seemed obvious to me after I read several of his posts, he has nothing to do with Chris or Science of Idenity. He appears to be on a spititual quest.. seeking answers, ideas, experiences, and knowledge for himself.
If the purpose of this forum is still, at least in part, to inform and warn people about Chris & the Science of Identity...by telling the truth about our own personal experiences, and/or to post any information we may have as to what's currently going on... then I feel this can be helpful. Perhaps a parent, relative, or friend will see this.
This young mans' name is Brandon Peele, [www.brandonpeele.com
], and the following is from his blog "Generative Transformation", post from 2006 in regard to his experience with Bhakti Yoga.
The most disturbing parts for me in this blog article:
1. It's an "ashram" with young people involved.
Who knows who these kids are!!!
Do their parents know what they are involved in?
2. It's right here in California USA...not off in some other country.
Note: The person referred to as "Jevon" is in fact Jivan Krishna das ...disciple of Chris' since the 1970's.
The business is:
Lotus Garden Yoga Studio/ The Meditation Retreat Center
7225 Lincoln Ave. Carmichael, CA 95628
"I recently returned from a 3-day Bhakti Yoga retreat. Bhakti Yoga is a devotional path to enlightenment in the Hindu tradition - the other main ones being Jnana (knowledge), Karma (service) and Raja (meditation/mind purification - similar to the Vipassana I've been practicing for the last couple years). It was a very positive experience overall, and something quite different than anything else I've encountered. The main thrust of Bhakti is to realize intimacy with God/Krishna through devotional practices such as Kirtan meditation (group chanting - think Gospel music) and Japa (private prayer/mantra/mediation using beads).
Again, this was an instance where my intuition told me to go and experience, without the need to research and rationalize the jaunt. And boy did it ever pay off! For starters, the food was fan-freaking-tastic; some the best vegetarian fare I've ever had. We met some amazing people, from newbies like us, to casual devotees to ashramites (residential spiritual practioners) to an initiated spiritual master. It was put on by the Carmichael Meditation Retreat Center, which also has a Hatha Yoga business called Lotus Garden. The meditation center is really more of an ashram, where folks can live and work while they study, meditate (sing and chant mantras). Similar to Vipassana (Buddhist meditation), the retreat was free. However, if you enjoyed the experience, the opportunity to donate exists.
My favorite parts of the weekend were the philosophy discourses and the informal one-on-ones with the practicioners and ashramites.
Before I go into too much detail on these, I need to offer a little disclaimer about my experience. This reflects only my own research on Bhakti, and this one experience, with one Bhakti group in the Sacramento area. It could be markedly different/better/worse elsewhere.
Bhakti is a very easy straight forward path - simply chanting and saying the names of God over and over to various tunes and in the confines of your own head. Unlike raja, there is no strict lifestyle discipline and committed hours on the cushion. Unlike jnana, there is required no love or stamina for philosophy, studying, etc. Unlike karma, there is no committment of service. All you have to do is sing, listen and chant, and your mind, body and soul become purified by the sacred sounds of the names of God. Essentially you're reprogramming your consciousness with spiritual mantras espousing a deep love of God, allowing the deprogramming of the material/matrix mantras (more, better, faster, etc.); the garbage just dies of atrophy.
Devotees get worked up into a frenzy singing, dancing, smiling and laughing. It's the rock 'n' roll path to enlightenment. Many of the Kirtan players were incredibly talented musicians and vocalists. I had a great time with Kirtan and am currently in a bit of Kirtan withdrawl.
So, as you might imagine, this particular path tends to attract a more fun loving, musically oriented and less chaste, somber or intellectual devotee.
I found this out the hard way, enquiring into the reasoning of every ashramite and devotee I met. Few had any conception of other yogas, spiritual traditions, Western psychology, etc. Virtually all of the ashramites had a zeal for the supremacy of Bhakti as the best path. Some chose to rationalize Bhakti's supremacy, by contending that the world is full of chaos, conflict and confusion and that all the other paths don't offer any solace from it as Bhakti does.
Many of the ashramites are young, in their late teens and twenties, and came from troubled upbringings (broken homes, disease, addiction, criminal past, etc.). This confirms the old joke that there is a significant difference between people who consider themselves religious and those who consider themselves spiritual. Religious people are afraid of hell; spiritual people have already been there. Many of the ashramites have unbelievable stories of transformation that they shared with us. Without a mind for critical thinking or knowledge of human development, one could easily walk away from such an experience believing that Bhakti yoga cures all forms of disease, mental illness, etc. However, upon close examination and employing a developmental psychological context, any embracing of God or emptying of one's mind of ills, especially after a traumatic upbringing, could appear as a panacea. I believe this accounts for the pervasive, though ill-informed, enthusiasm for Bhakti.
The only exception to the abundant ignorance of other paths, fields of study, etc. I encountered was when I cornered the resident ordained spiritual master, Jevon. He is a white-haired man in sixties, with whom I share a love of philosophy, psychology, physics, etc. In addition to having recieved direct spiritual training and the blessing to teach from his spiritual master (tracing a lineage back thousands of years), Jevon is a scholar of Christianity. I dare say that without my encounters with Jevon I would have written off Bhakti as Disneyland spirituality.
Throughout the two Baghavad Gita philosophy discussions, I hit Jevon with question after question pertaining to psychology, democracy, conformity, creativity, empowerment, other paths, the work of Aurobindo and Krishnamurti. He seemed incredibly astute, drawing on his own experiences being raised Catholic, as a former devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda's Raja yoga, and as a scholar of the work of Krishnamurti. He was a bit light on the Integral Yoga of Aurobindo, and on how his philosophy might pertain to Bhakti. Otherwise, I was very impressed.
He talked to me as if he was part channeling, with his eyes closed and part consciously engaged. It was sort of as if he had a mission to relate what had been imparted to him, but could employ his creativity and reasoning in how he communicated it to me. Knowing me to be fond of physics, metaphor and obsessed with intellectual integrity, he tailored his responses to resonate with my language of choice. Very cool to experience.
I learned a great deal from Jevon, specifically related to the process of spiritual learning or ascension. True knowledge can come from three places:
Direct experience of the seeker
Confirmation and interpretation of said experience in scripture
Confirmation and interpretation of said experience by spiritual master, who is himself the living embodiment of the scripture, as the direct lineage of his tutelage predates what is written (handed down from Krishna to students/master to student/master for thousands of years).
I'm pretty convinced that all you need is the first one, but the last two would be nice to have as well.
Jevon's core nugget of wisdom followed after I asked him a question on why Eastern paths so deeply confuse and alienate Westerners. He replied that spirituality as a practice and science has been consistently part of Indian culture for several thousands of years, only first being written down 5,000 years ago, and as such the advancement of spiritual thinking and practice is unfamiliar and alienating to Westerners who hold more primative forms of spirituality sacred (Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all relative newcomers to the God game).
Much as a student of 4th grade math (multiplication, addition, subtraction and division) does not see that 4th grade math is indeed part of calculus, and that calculus is an evolution, not departure from math, a devotee of a Western religion fails to see the grandeur of spirituality as practiced in the East. In fact, Westerners even think its something altogether different, aka not religion! We Westerners are blinded by our ignorance in this respect.
Want a good steak? Ask an Argentinian. A good watch? Ask a Swiss. A good car? Talk to a German. And if it is spirituality you seek, look to the East.
I have decided that incorporating a devotional aspect of spirituality into my practice is a worthwhile endeavor. Moreover, I remain convinced, that while Bhakti may not be my sole and lasting spiritual practice, I should keep looking East in my search. If you're the kind of seeker who loves music, singing and dancing or detests chastidy, silence and study, Bhakti is for you. While I don't detest any of the latter, I certainly love to sing and dance, so instead of boring myself and girlfriend with the mundane lyrics of Pearl Jam or the Eagles, I look forward to blending artistic expression with my obsession for evolution, spiritual communion and self-realization, through Bhakti. So if you see me chanting "Rama Rama" or rocking back and forth in spiritual ecstasy with beads between my fingers, you'll know why!"