James F—ing Swartz and his Revisionist History.
I watched the Mystic by Default “documentary”. I haven’t read the book, but I thought it would be useful for me to see what James Swartz is presenting as his narrative.
Watching his ugly face wasn’t easy for me. This is the man who raped me.
In my quest for some closure, I felt it would be useful to see the video. I imagined it was like taking chemotherapy. Sometimes, to get rid of cancer, one must be exposed to toxic chemicals.
I have provided timestamps and quotes from the video, along with my comments.
James Swartz: “Even in those days I was good at lying—and had the gift of gab.”
JS talks about a force taking over his body, making him speak words, turn left or right…
At 25:00 in the video, Swartz relates his travels and interactions with a saint and a yogi. He describes events that led him to his “spiritual awakening”. He said the yogi was a fraud and begins to say the yogi gave him a Kundalini technique. Swartz stops before he finishes the word Kundalini, then calls it a “great technique”.
“Met a great saint…I didn’t realize he was a great saint…went to Rishikesh…fell in with a yogi…who turned out to be a fraud but gave me a Kunda---a great technique, which again reproduced this experience that I’d had before…I thought I was enlightened but the experience disappeared after a few days…and I ended up falling back on the drug scene…”
There is a sharp edit-cut in the interview, and Swartz is in mid-conversation with the interviewer. Swartz talks about a spiritual power he learned: Shakti Siddhi.
“…and the Siddhi…the Shakti Siddhi…but that one…that one’s probably good enough…you only need one…”
The interviewer goes on to gush Swartz with nauseating affection. The questioner placates Swartz by supporting a theory in Mystic by Default (his false autobiography) and suggests Swartz didn’t have (so-called) spiritual experience or spiritual power due to drugs, but that young Swartz had an authentic spiritual awakening experience.
This segment ends with Swartz:
“…cool…maybe I’m just a good liar.”
Swartz continues to describe his experience of “awakening”. He talks about being separate from his body, and watching his body do all the actions. He states he was like a zombie, the body moved by a separate force.
These statements made by Swartz on his experience with depersonalization, makes me wonder if, along with his apparent sociopathic narcissistic disorder, he also has a dissociative disorder. (Note that I am not saying people who suffer with dissociative disorders are criminals—I am saying that a criminal can also have such a disorder.) Here is an interesting article about murderer Ted Bundy that to me is reminiscent of Swartz as I knew him.
Swartz tells the fable of how Swami Chinmayananda requested he become his personal assistant. I wasn’t there, this was well before my time with Swartz (I was with him 1980-82). However, I presume with great confidence that Swartz is again lying.
When I look at the Chinmaya Mission group, I see a worldwide outreach program that intends to help people interested in Vedanta in learning and becoming a member of a benevolent organization. If you look at their websites, it clearly states their mission, events, how the organization is structured, the teachers, and the centres around the world. I don’t see anything about James Swartz there. If Swartz was such a close and important assistant to Chinmayananda—do you think he would be mentioned once—somewhere on the Chinmaya Mission websites?
I’m thinking about writing some letters to the administration office of Chinmaya Mission to ask if they’ve ever heard of a James Swartz. Jessica had mentioned once that Swartz was involved with the SF group, some years before we were involved with his cult, and she mentioned there was a fall-out—a serious disagreement. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know much more than I do.
I’m guessing Swartz had some contact with the authentic guru. Along his travels in Africa & India, he probably learned a lot of trickery, “black magic” (he used to brag about this to Jessica), and some Shakti Siddhi tricks (Kundalini). I’m guessing Swartz saw how a guru could have a lot of power over his followers. That power was like an addictive drug to Swartz. He had some tricks up his sleeve, he saw how the gurus were doing it in India, and I guess he was so full of grandiose self importance that he figured he was the man for the job. All of Swartz’s businesses and con jobs failed (no matter how much he tries to rewrite the narrative!) He was looking for the next game. Guru-ship was it.
“…but the amazing part of this story is…that when you get that close to a Mahatma…of that caliber…these great Mahatmas…y-you become them…your minds get in sync…so whatever was in his mind would appear in my mind almost simultaneously…and I got this…I could see everything that he saw…and it was just, and I could see the world from the position from which he saw…without any words…without any verbal teaching…it was like having a video feed from the Swami in my head all the time…”
Swartz described how he, in his zombie-like depersonalized state, believed there was a video feed of simultaneous experience between himself and Swami Chinmayananda. This transmission of knowledge gave Swartz the “credentials” to make claims he is part of the “lineage” and therefore has the authority to teach Vedanta within that lineage.
Total stinking bullshit.
Here is an example of Swartz’s narcissistic personality:
“I said okay well what do I do now…and he said…I’ll never forget it…it was like this guy you know he was totally unembarrassed by anything…it was his idea…and it didn’t work you know…but he said, you will explode upon the society and bring this knowledge to the people…and I went oh my god you know and that was how he talked really bombawstic…bombastic you know…and I said well okay so what…so what do I do now Swami G…and he said go to San Francisco…sit under a tree…and they will come.”
Swartz talks about how he established his first ashram in San Francisco Seacliff neighborhood. Jessica told me this was probably the cult he established before we got involved with him. Apparently that scene ended badly, people became angry with Swartz (we didn’t know why). Perhaps these were the people screaming at Swartz (we called him Rama at that time), when we were running errands in the Nob Hill area. It was soon after that incident that Swartz sold off his antique shop and stuff from his import business. I detail this in my written account on the thread “James Swartz—my original written account”.
Swartz talks about when he was a guru at his Seacliff ashram. He tells about how wonderful it was, how everyone loved it and benefited from it. He then explains how much work it was— “too much work”. He decided he didn’t want to be like his guru (the one he claimed was his guru) and “have to work so hard”. He said it wasn’t that he didn’t want to serve people, he wanted to serve in a different way. Swartz explains it was an experiment. He didn’t want to be a guru in the traditional sense of the word.
Perhaps Swartz had a moment of truth. Maybe he realized he didn’t have what would take to be a true teacher. He probably realized what a loser, conman, lowlife he really was. Perhaps he decided to take what was useful from the “experiment” and create a new scene, a new game, in which he could be like a guru, yet not be a guru. With this new concept, he would be able to do what ever pleased him. He wouldn’t have to work so hard. He could make the game work for him. He could get devotees to do the work for him, after all, being the guru proved to be too much work.
Swartz talks about putting on his “guru hat”. In other words, he can play the part when it serves him, and stop playing the part when it’s too inconvenient, when he can’t accept responsibility for being a leader (or an influencer).
Swartz begins to blend his fake narrative with the real narrative of his life at that time. He talks about the time period when Joseph, Marlene, Jessica, and I were a part of his cult. However, in his interview (and in his “autobiography”) he erases me, Joseph, and Jessica from the narrative, essentially wiping us clean out of existence. He said he “worked so hard”. Actually, it was Marlene and Jessica and Joseph that worked hard. Swartz first got Marlene and Joseph to do live sex shows in the Tenderloin district of SF. When Jessica and I joined, Swartz got Jessica into the strip teasing business. It was Jessica and Marlene that worked their asses off!!! They brought in all the money. When Swartz sold off his import stuff and antiques, we moved to Montana. At that time Swartz was training me to be a prostitute and a strip tease dancer. Details on my true story can be found on the thread, “James Swartz—my original written account”.
“If there was dirty work to do, I did it myself, I didn’t ask somebody else to do it.”
What a Goddamn liar Swartz is. It makes me sick to hear him lie, knowing how we all suffered—especially Marlene and Jessica. He had us all do his dirty work. I guess that was part of his not-being-the-doer philosophy.
Swartz was (is) nothing but a low-life pimp.
“For me, I’m just a person who knows something that most people don’t know…”
Here’s what Swartz knows: how to influence and control people, until you use them up, then it’s good to throw them away to hide the evidence.
What people don’t know is that Swartz knows how to influence people. It’s called undue influence.
The time on the video 1:20 to 1:25—Swartz mixes up parts of the real narrative to tell his false story. He erases me, Joseph, and Jessica from existence. He mixes up timelines from his Seacliff days, and the days with our cult, beginning from the time before I met them and ending around 1982.
His description of Marlene is correct. She was a lovely person. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She had mental health issues. What Swartz fails to tell, is that Marlene’s mental heath issues were a result of his abuse.
Swartz talks about Marlene going mad. When I first met Marlene, she was my dance teacher. She and Joseph taught dance at the SF Dance Theatre (in existence at that time). We all thought she was a bit “kooky”, but I never thought she was “mad”.
Often during dance class, Marlene exhibited strange movements. When she sat, she would shake, her head would shake, and her body had snake-like movements.
When Jessica and I became a part of the cult, we learned more about her movements. Her body shook a lot during satsangs, and during chanting. Rama (Swartz) called it Kundalini. He encouraged Marlene to take her Kundalini movements and incorporate it into her dance (and strip tease).
There were times when her movements became too intense. Her body shook, and her spine twisted. I now understand this twisting movement, from the medical perspective, to be Dystonia. People can acquire functional movement disorders and Dystonia from a variety of sources. Origins can be neurological or psychological. Psychological origins are often rooted in trauma. Seizure disorders can come from neurological or psychological origins—it can also come about as a result of drugs.
When Swartz took us to his cabin in Montana, he abused us. He used drugs and sexual abuse. He put stuff in my tea, I can only assume it was Quaaludes or something of that sort. He also used LSD and magic mushrooms. Before I left them, I too began to have movements in my body. Swartz told us the movements were Kundalini. He told us we could interface with the energy and use it to “change our bodies to become more attractive as a strip tease entertainer”.
After I left them, I lived in Santa Barbara with my grandmother. I tried to finish my last year of high school. During that time, my teeth chattered, I had tremors, twisting of my spine (Dystonia), and shaking. Usually these episodes happened at night while I tried to sleep. I thought to myself I couldn’t remember why I had the weird body symptoms. I remembered Rama telling me I could use the energy to change my body into anything I wanted. I tried to harness the power of the Kundalini energy to make my body more attractive. I didn’t understand the movement, I was trying to forget the trauma of the past, so I just tried to see how the movement could be useful to me in that time. I didn’t connect the idea of Kundalini with anything spiritual. Rama only talked about Kundalini energy in terms of how we could change our bodies to be more attractive.
When I decided to be serious about dance, and go into full time training, I didn’t have time to address my previous trauma. I pushed it all down and tried to forget about Rama and the cult. Two decades following my escape from Swartz, I continued to have serious body issues. I had chronic pelvic pain. I had chronic pain in my hip and back. Once and a while I had a tremor or two, but not like before, anytime I had a thought about Guru Rama I just buried it deep down inside. I couldn’t face the pain. It wasn’t until I turned 49 years old that the tsunami wave of trauma came back in the form of unrelenting flashbacks, dystonia, and debilitating seizures. (I will write more details on this in my next post.)
“She thought she had the wrong body…and she was trying to transform the cells in her body one by one…to get herself a new body…this is what she…this is madness obviously…”
This madness was a result of Swartz’s abuse. Those were HIS WORDS!!! He told us we could transform the cells in our bodies. (Part of the thought reform he used to control us.)
Conveniently, Swartz now changes the narrative to serve his own purpose. He had made Marlene “mad”, then (and now) blames it on her. This is a classic case of BLAMING THE VICTIM.
What an asshole.
Swartz tells a totally false story about finding Marlene in a flat with “junkies and transvestites” …“just laying in the corner…”
Bullshit. At this time, I had left Montana, Jessica had also escaped, and Marlene was in terrible condition living with Swartz at the cabin. Swartz had had enough of Marlene’s “episodes” (she couldn’t control the shaking and delusions that were a result of his abuse). Swartz then kicked Marlene out! After that, he had the gall to ask Jessica if she would replace Marlene and become his wife.
What an asshole.
“…you could hear her bones and muscles just cracking inside her body…”
Like Marlene during that time, I’ve suffered with Dystonia since I’ve left the cult. Some years I’ve suffered more than other years, but the movement disorder has been a constant in my life. Sometimes the spine twists so much, it can cause joints to crack and pop. It feels like a grinding, it’s horrible. Marlene used to call this terrible grinding “crunching”.
“…you know I was working really hard to support us…”
Bullshit. Marlene went out days or weeks at a time doing strip gigs…while we lived in the cabin. Swartz sat on his fat ass.
“…she offered to contribute…we had no money…”
Here, Swartz continues his messed up, false narrative. He says at this point Marlene “offered” to do strip tease. The way he tells it, she had never stripped before, but that’s not true. When we were at the cabin, Marlene had been strip teasing FOR YEARS. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her idea to begin with. I didn’t know them when Swartz had Marlene and Joseph doing live sex shows in SF. I’m very sure it was not her idea. Very simply, Swartz used influence, hypnosis, drugs, and sexual abuse to control her. When Jessica and I came into the cult—he did the same to us.
Here Swartz describes taking Marlene to Vegas and putting together an act. When I listen to this, I think it sounds very plausible. I think this part of the story, Swartz taking Marlene to Vegas, was before my time, and before they put together the live sex show in SF. So that would be sometime in the mid to late seventies. But he’s mixing up the timeline to tell his false story.
“…it was…not low class strip joints…these were…these were…you know…good clubs…decent clubs…they weren’t vulgar…and her act…the thing with her act was very ascetic…and she used to just…I remember one time she was dancing…in Las Vegas in the Palomino Club which was a kind of fancy club, a strip club in Vegas at that time…and she used to satirize…she was such a good dancer she could do dance satire…and she started satirizing her strip act…and the owner came and told her look you’re not going to do this anymore, you’re going to…you gotta play this straight…or you’re outta here…y’know…no, she had a great sense of humor, she was a great poet…”
Swartz describes the clubs as decent and not vulgar—THIS IS A LIE. THEY WERE INDECENT AND VULGAR. Maybe the Palomino Club was “decent”, but that was one place early on, a lot of the clubs Marlene and Jessica worked at, in North America and overseas, were VULGAR.
Swartz goes on to describe Marlene as a stripper. In his storytelling, he blends Marlene and Jessica into one person, and calls her Marlene. I was there at that time. I remember all the talk that went on about what happened in the strip clubs. It was Jessica who had the “great sense of humor”. Jessica had a very sarcastic sense of humor. Swartz used that and toyed with Jessica. He used to tell us that we were not the “doer”. We could go out on stage, strip off all our costume, titillate “dirty old men”, and all the while we would not be the “doer”. We were in the “place of the Lord”. We were above the ignorant fools in the audience. We could “have our cake and eat it too”. We could “have the last laugh”. Jessica took all this very seriously. The work was traumatizing and damaging to her. The way she coped was to laugh it off. For a while she did “satirize” the act. It was her way of getting something out of the terrible experience. Sunny Jim (Swartz) and Jessica used to laugh about making fools out of the audience. It’s Jessica he’s talking about here, not Marlene.
Swartz mentions Marlene’s experimental theatre company. I believe this part is true. I believe she did that before she met Swartz.
Swartz mentions taking Marlene to India. I know they went more than once to India. The timeline on this is not totally clear for me. In any case, I do remember Swartz going to India in late December 1981 and returning early 1982 (January? February?) He went to buy stuff for his import business. I’m sure he has fond memories of taking Marlene to “saints and sages” on one of those India trips. He mixes up the timeline and omits facts, so I’m not too sure on this point.
Next, Swartz describes Marlene during one of her Kundalini episodes. One must wonder if he is describing one of his many LSD trips. Or perhaps he is describing the times he drugged and sexually assaulted me. Listening to his telling, the imagery is like a scene from the movie The Exorcist. If one listens with discrimination, it is obvious that Swartz does not take responsibility for his wife. He blames her. He calls her crazy.
“…well it would be hard to imagine but you could look at this woman and then sometimes in her face you would see, you would see a hundred faces in the period of, of a matter of an hour…can you imagine…the flesh would transform into different faces…there were…I don’t know did you ever see the film Ghost Busters? …r’member those demons in Ghost Busters?...Those demons are actually there in the psychic space, and they were around the cabin…when she was in one of those things…there were all these monsters…in the psychic dimension…I mean it was…it was weird, and sometimes the ener-(gy) and her body would convulse…you could hear the bones cracking against each other, and see the muscles contracting and contorting rhythmically…sometimes the energy would be so great it would just pick her up…and lift her right off the bed or what ever it was…and drop her on the floor…without any effort on her own…it was bizarre…I mean it was so weird you can’t even begin to imagine it…and this woman is like there in that body…you know, and she’s somehow participating in this process which is you know absolutely mad…on top of it…cauz she thought she had the wrong body…and she wanted a new body…she said my soul or my spirit is totally different from my body that I have been given…b’cauz she had been abused by her mother…her mother had beaten her…and forced her to become this beauty queen…and you know they had certain little cosmetic surgeries done on her…and so forth and so on…and so all this self-loathing was inside her…in spite of…and she couldn’t see who she was, she couldn’t see that she had a beautiful body…”
Swartz continues his storytelling and explains how he got a divorce and took her to California. I don’t know if this part is true, because I wasn’t there. Interestingly he ends the segment telling how he couldn’t have her die in the cabin, because people would see what a weird hippy guru he was—and he would be blamed for her illness and death. Finally, here, Swartz speaks a truth.
What happened to Marlene was his fault. He caused her mental illness. He tries to blame Marlene’s illness on abuse from her mother. I don’t believe that.
Swartz often used to tell me that no one would believe me if I told about what happened “between us”. He told me people would say I’m crazy. He also blamed me. He told me I got what was coming to me because I had bad karma.
Watching this “documentary” was sad, but also revealing.
I am finally putting together puzzle pieces of my terrible time with this bad guru. I see how both Marlene and I have suffered with serious movement disorders—what Swartz called Kundalini. What connects me with what happened with Marlene, is that we were both abused by Swartz.
In my next post, I will talk about movement disorders, the psychological fall-out from being in a cult and compare some of these ideas with the concepts of Kundalini energy. It’s been hard for me to parse through what is my own true spiritual experience, and the impressions and flashbacks of the terrible abuse I suffered from Swartz.
No doubt about it though. That horrible man sexually and spiritually abused me. He would love nothing more than to erase us all…throw us all into a loony bin and set it on fire.