Corboy: The one area I disagree is with the person stating that one has to give permission to surrender oneself to a guru-takeover.
One has been placed in a state of boundry porosity and, very likely trance by the events one goes through at an ashram prior to the guru's arrival onstage.
Two, that pre-darshan indoctrination is designed to disrupt adult critical thinking and to stimulate the trusting longing child who lives within us all.
This indoctrination separates our trustful inner child from our street wise inner parent, leaving that child self within us vulnerable to seduction by an exploitative ashram business.
We are not told about the exploitative business model concealed behind the sweet singing and incense.
In such a state of mind, one might as well be drugged or drunk. It is impossible to 'give permission' when in this state of mind.
This said, the author's story is well worth reading.
The astonishing experiences people undergo in ashram communities and during guru events may be accounted for by a subconscious undertow that occurs when a multitude of longing people have all focused that longing upon a single person, and in an environment that promotes boundary fluidity.
here is no doubt that group behaviour has a powerful effect on the human psyche. Mass displays of emotion (or hysteria) are contagious. Human beings have an innate yearning to belong to a tribe – any tribe – and Amma’s ashram can tick the empty boxes for lost souls seeking meaning to their lives, whether consciously sought or not. But there is more to Amma’s powerful hold over people’s minds and lives than simple group conformity. Someone commented earlier that a soul surrender takes place. That’s a good way of describing it. You could also say it’s a form of spiritual possession. It’s important to stress that that can only happen with the PERMISSION of the individual.
16 years ago I thought I had been enlightened; touched in a special way by divine, cosmic forces; specifically chosen… That dangerous line of thinking led me to divorce my rationalist, scientific husband (whom I thought “would not understand the new me”), give up what I saw as vain and futile materialism and follow what I believed to be a “spiritual” path, “following my heart”. My family and friends noticed the changes – it was impossible not to. Some were too alarmed or confused to deal with it and withdrew their friendship. Others, the more concerned ones, warned me: “do you really know what you’re doing?” Yes, yes, I reassured them (and myself). I know things you don’t know. I’ve seen something you’ve not seen, something other-worldly. I’ve seen THE INFINITE in Amma’s eyes. Gabble, gabble.
Yet true good can only lead to good. And what followed in my life was not good. Today, 16 years later, I am not married any more and probably never will be again. I am childless and too old now to change that. I have no family or real friends left. I have no home of my own any more, no job, no income, no future. All I have to look forward to is old age, poverty, loneliness and then death. And then what?
There has to be more to this life than what happens here on earth, otherwise it is all pointless. I don’t believe in the endless wheel of reincarnation – that’s a get-out clause for moral irresponsibility (“doesn’t matter if you screw up this time, you’ll get another chance”). No we won’t. We have one lifetime on earth and one only. The decisions of our youth shape our later life. So, kids, take heed before it’s too late.
When I think back to that innocent boat journey I took that day through the tropical backwaters of Kerala, I liken it to the fateful journey of Captain Willard’s character in the classic Vietnam film, Apocalypse Now. Like Willard (played by Martin Sheen) I did not know that the river was taking me directly into the Heart of Darkness. I’m not comparing Amma to the mad, evil Colonel Kurtz. Nor am I blaming Amma for my own poorly conceived life decisions and mistakes. But I am talking about the journey into one’s own heart, the encounter with the deepest darkest recesses of Self. That’s what Amma unlocks in people’s hearts.
The moral of my story is: if you go knocking on an unknown door out of idle curiosity, be careful of what lies on the other side.
Thank you, Bronte Baxter, for this blog.