Sounds like the subtext is that those willing to take the risk and plunge into Uma's fire 'have what it takes' and those who stay away are written off as
'not tough enough'.
A subtle dare.
How many of us feel secure enough to say, "Yep. I am not tough enough - not tough enough to plunge myself into Uma's acid bath.'
there is a dangerous region of the spiritual scene where abusive gurus are supported, even endorsed.
To be regarded as a 'real' and 'serious' disciple, you are expected to abandon
all claim to fundamental human rights.
Ken Wilber wrote this endorsement of Andrew Cohen, an egregiously abusive "spiritual teacher."
This sounds similar to what some describe of the scene around Uma.
When it comes to spiritual teachers, there are those who are safe, gentle, consoling, soothing, caring; and there are the outlaws, the living terrors, the Rude Boys and Nasty Girls of God realization, the men and women who are in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are.
And may I suggest?: choose your teachers carefully.
If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self-contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path of stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want Enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passionate Infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence, who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharin solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face.
Most of us, I suspect, prefer our spiritual teachers to be of the Nice-Guy variety. Soft, comforting, non-threatening, a source of succor for a worn and weary soul, a safe harbor in the samsaric storm. There is nothing wrong with that, of course; spirituality comes in all sorts of flavors, and I have known some awfully Nice Guys. But if the flavor tends toward Enlightenment instead of consolation, if it drifts away from soothing dreams toward actually waking up, if it rumbles toward a God realization and not egoic fortification, then that demands a brutal, shocking death: a literal death of your separate self, a painful, frightening, horrifying dissolution—a miraculous extinction you will actually witness as you expand into the boundless, formless, radical Truth that will pervade your every cell and drench your being to the core and expand what you thought was your self until it embraces the distant galaxies. For only on the other side of death lies Spirit, only on the other side of egoic slaughter lies the Good and the True and the Beautiful. "You will come in due course to realize that your true glory lies where you cease to exist," as the illustrious Sri Ramana Maharshi constantly reminded us. Your true glory lies on the other side of your death, and who will show you that?
Not the Nice Guys and not the Good Girls. They don't want to hurt your feelings. They don't want to upset you. They are here to whisper sweet nothings in your ear and place consolation prizes in the outstretched hand of the self-contraction, balm for a war-torn weary ego, techniques to prop it up in its constant battle with the world of otherness. In a sense, it's very easy being a Nice-Guy teacher: no muss, no fuss, no wrestling with egoic resistance and exhausting confrontation. Be nice to the ego, pat it on the back, have it count its breaths, hum a few mantras.
Rude Boys know better. They are not here to console but to shatter, not to comfort but to demolish. They are uncompromising, brutal, laser-like. They are in your face until you recognize your Original Face—and they simply will not back off, they will not back down, they will not let up until you let go—radically, fully, completely, unhesitatingly. They live as Compassion—real compassion, not idiot compassion—and real compassion uses a sword more often than a sweet. They deeply offend the ego (and the greater the offense, the bigger the ego). They are alive as Truth, they are everywhere confronted with egos, and they choose the former uncompromisingly.
Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, used to say that nobody comes to a therapist to get better (although they always say they do); they really come to perfect their neurosis. Just so, nobody comes to a spiritual teacher to get Enlightenment (although everybody claims they do); rather, they come to a spiritual teacher to learn more subtle and sophisticated egoic games—in this case, the game of "Look at me being really spiritual."
After all, what is it in you that brings you to a spiritual teacher in the first place? It's not the Spirit in you, since that is already enlightened and has no need to seek. No, it is the ego in you that brings you to a teacher: you want to see yourself in the presence of the spiritual game, you want to meet yourself tomorrow as a realized being—in plain language, you want your ego to continue into a spiritual paradise.
And what's a poor teacher to do, confronted with such egoic cunning? Everybody who comes to a spiritual teacher comes egoically motivated. And teachers have two choices in the face of this onslaught of the separate selves, this conference of the self-contractions: they can play to the audience, or they can blow the entire building up.
Andrew Cohen is a Rude Boy. He is not here to offer comfort; he is here to tear you into approximately a thousand pieces...so that Infinity can reassemble you, Freedom can replace imprisonment, Fullness can outshine fear. And that simply will not happen if all you want is consolation, soothing prayers, ruffle-free platitudes, "It will all be okay." Well, it will not be okay if you want Enlightenment. It will, in fact, be hell, and only Rude Boys are rude enough to tell you that, and to show you that—if you can stand the rudeness, stay in the fire, burn clean as Infinity and radiate as the stars.