I've written on this forum extensively about my time in the School, my memories and the things I know for a fact happened. I am an open book about it and happy to discuss and talk about it all.
The fact is it was an illegally run uncredited school. It was operated by unqualified teachers and headmasters. Butler's son, Siddha was treated with special attention as were Tapasya Das' son and nephew. Boys with major psychological issues had no access to counselors and proper guidance. Younger boys were abused and bullied by their peers and old boys. Karma and demeaning language was used as a way to write off any issues kids may have been having. Boys who were caught masturbating were publicly humiliated. Boys who expressed homosexual tendencies had to hide and were obviously living in a literal hell of self guilt and shame. We were shown vulgar videos of homosexual men fucking in the streets of san franscico with the bias message fo them getting aids. We were exposed to countless vulgar lectures of Butler describing in detail fringe homosexual sex acts and complete bias and vile language used to judge and shame pretty much anyone who did not conform to butlers world view: Scientists, other religious groups and leaders including those who where fellow vaishnavas, and of course devotees within the group who had offended butler in some menial way. We are under constant stress and fear of judgment. All the activities we learned were with the aim of being useful to Butler and his projects as soon as we returned to the west.
We woke at 4am after only 5-7 hours of rest and took cold bucket showers, chanted in dark temple rooms, had moldy clothing, bad food and half-ass education based on hindu mythology about half-man half lion and pig avatars. We were told these stories of complete fiction were unequivocal truth and were lead to believe they were literal and true historical events. We had zero education about other world religions and mythology from other world cultures. It was not till years later that I was able to finally study and see the origins of various hindu deities and the evolution of the Bhakti cult in India and put two and two together to understand that these stories were metaphorical ideas about the human psyche and various hodgepodge philosophic theories of the east.
Butler was the focal personality of worship, surrender and emulation. We stared at pictures of the youthful butler on the Alter every day and were told to distribute his books, often in vulnerable places like cemeteries and poor barrios and downtrodden neighborhoods where uneducated people were more likely to be influenced. It also helped that were were a bunch of white kids.
Most parents were asked to send about $200/month to cover our care. We had zero access to parental comfort or care. Our parents were left join the west to become full-time servants of Butler—starting businesses for him, managing businesses, opening preaching centers and being his person servants: Cooking for him and his wife, folding his underwear, massaging him, putting tinfoil walls and air filtration systems throughout his house and abiding by his many neurotic kitchen and personal care rules. Some of these rules were as narcissistic as to ask devotees to pay Butler money if they accidentally left a dirty spoon in the dishwasher or some such bullshit.
Butler publicly shames his own disciples regularly and letters or lecture tapes were sent to all his disciples worldwide wherein he cursed and sweared at his personal servants or other devotees for things like seeking out a husband, not having mangoes available or storing his lecture tapes improperly and so forth. It ranged from silly things to downright absurd and neurotic. Devotees lived in shame, fear and guilt.
Butler approved certain devotees as "pure". They included, of course, his own wife (which he apparently gave up sanyas so he can "preach to woman" which has no scriptural source at all), Tusta Krishna das and Katyayani Devi Dasi. Mike Gabbard AKA Krishna Katha was considered a high ranking devotee and we were always told who to vote for and so forth (eroding the very meaning of democracy).
Toenails of Butler, hair clippings or sand he walked on were regularly distributed as "Maha prasadam" which was eaten by devotees.
There was constantly scandals throughout the mission. Instead of solving these things in a rational and respectful manner, Butler often exploded with anger and smashed everyone who was involved. There was no leading with love and mindful attention to how people may be affected.
Millions of dollars were funneled for assorted projects of Butler's (many of which failed or never came to fruition) or just to maintain his elaborate care. There are countless letters were Butler is angry and critical of his Devotees for messing up some small part of his care. These were devotees with real jobs and kids to care for who were doing their best to be his person servants.
There are many lectures of Butler as well as booklets that show completely skewed and illogical views on assorted topics with scientific rigor or even basic rational thought. His views on education and schooling were appalling and lacked any foresight. Kids were sent to the PI schools only to return tot he west with no credits—as if they literally had not gone to school for 6 years of their life. They either had to test out of things to enter a school or take GED tests and simply forgot a normal education.
Butler shared many of his own spiritual masters absurd views on science, astronomy, leadership, politics and other religious groups. [prabhupadasaid.com
] and [harekrishnathing.com
] reflect many of the views Butler shared with his own Guru.
Information about Butlers based was often secret or we were told some sort of fantastical stories about Butler having achieved brhaman realization while he was a 17 year old LSD hippie in Hawaii. We were told silly stories about Butlers flesh burning at the base of his spine as he raised his Kundalini energy along his spinal column. We were told tales of Butler surrendering his large group of followers to Swami Prabhupada like some sort of tale from Chaitanya Charitamrita of Mayavadis surrending their followers to Mahaprabhu. It's comical now in retrospect, but we were kids and ate this shit up like ice cream on a hot summer day.
We were told that Tusta Krishna das' eternal spiritual form and relationship with the blue god Krishna (swarup/rasa) was that of a gopa, cowherd playmate of Krishna. And that Katyayani was eternally a maidservant of mother Yashoda in the mood of a nanny caretaker of baby gopala. I shit you not. Butler was either a gopi or gopa—it was always a mystery.
We were read tales of Krishna stealing the clothes of the Gopis and descriptions of the firm full breasts and thighs of the Gopi girls while at the height of puberty and told to not think of sex and women. It was a total mindfuck of a nonsense education for a group of young boys. While in the west kids were getting proper education about sex, astronomy and world religion and proper academia, were were getting read the equivalent of Santa clause stories and bullshit idealism. We were told to fear thew world around us, not how to be better members of it. We were isolated and told that the world is illusion, evil, materialists demons and karmis. All goodness was to be found at the lotus feet of butler. We never questioned why so much of the so-called "universal" mythology we were read was obviously a "India-centric" religion replete with references to lotus flowers, elephants, dhotis and sitars.
As Butler devotees we had no exposure to the deeper traditions of the Vaishnava faith. We were not allowed to visit India or any of the pilgrimage spots, did not wear tilak or tradition vaishnava dress, neck beads, sika, dhotis and saris or even play instruments like mrdanga, supposedly dear to the founder of the Bhakti movement, Chaitanya. We regularly had Jesus on the alter and we had nearly no exposure or concept of the guru varga of our lineage. We did not study the works of the goswamis to gain a better understanding of any of the deeper philosophies of vaishnavasim live Sambandha, Abidheya and Prayojana. We were basically taught we are not the body, follow the 4 regulative principles, to chant and "love" Krishna and worship Butler. This simplistic ideology that can be found in hundreds of books was meant to sustain us as devotees for eternity. This abstraction was meant to give us some sort of "edge" over the average person. And we truly did feel like we had some edge. Devotees were often arrogant and proud and spoke as if they knew some deep universal truth.
I look in both amusement and deep sadness over my years wit Butler. It robbed me of family, exposed me to complete mind garbage, wasted my youth, left me riddles with stress, anxiety, guilt and shame. Left me feeling alone and unable to have normal relationships and rational views and opinions about the world around me. It blunted my curiosity and fed my brain with nonsensical explanations for natural phenomena. Indra was the rain god, shiva's made snakes and spiders poisonous, Ganesh got an elephant head for protecting his mother, and demigods flew from universe to universe on giant swans. The sun was pulled around by a chariot with horses and Krishna gave a 2 hour talk in the middle of a battlefield while everyone waited. Homosexuals were born from lord brahmas ass and varaha came out of brahmas nose like a booger. And lets not forget that naradha muni flies through space playing an instrument invented 2000 years ago.
Believe what you want, but I don't feel any of the above has a place in modern hindu thought as literal and historic factual events. They are parables and symbolic tales at best and simple village stories in most cases. They have no place in a serious study and perusal of a spiritual practice regardless if they are of the Bhakti ilk or Jnana or Karma yoga variety. Kids should not spend their childhood being fed this stuff or told to worship any guru unless it's in a more generic traditional guru/priest approach. A child should be allowed to play, be with their parents, have girls and boys as friends and learn contemporary academic courses, learn about world religions and cross-cultural mythology and eventually, as adults, find a spiritual guide on their own. No one should ever be told to worship someone from birth. It defeats the purpose of finding your own path and spiritual foundation. Who you worship and listen to should not be appointed from birth when it comes to spiritual maters. A guru is a expert on spiritual topics at best, but has no business in education.
Butler, as a guru, has no business in pursuing business ventures and so forth. A true vaishnva lives simply and humbly and does not involve themselves in money ventures, complex marital arrangements (like marrying your own disciple who already has kids of her own) and politics. This man is a charlatan and fraud of the highest order. He is a hypochondriac narcissist germaphobe. He is a clown. A sad sad clown.