Re: Chris Butler, Jagad Guru, Science of Identity
Date: April 24, 2010 09:25AM
From the above link:
author unknown, but probably from the Chiskon website. It offers an excellent synopsis of the cult. Some minor details are questionable, but the over all facts are verified by testimony of former followers and documents posted on this site.
Features of a Destructive Cult
The Science of Identity Foundation, founded in Hawaii in 1977, is centre to a network of business, political and spiritual enterprises operating throughout the world under the direction of Chris Butler (Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa).
The 'science of identity' is also the title given to a distinct doctrine, as defined by Chris Butler, centered on the concept of spiritual life being dependent on any individual discovering thier 'actual identity' and being prepared to live according to their 'true nature'.
As organisation and philosophy are entirely co-existent both are essentially referred to by the abbreviation of SoI. Also called the Science of Identity Foundation (SIF)
SoI is based around an authoritarian pyramid structure with Chris Butler, accepted as being the only genuine spiritual authority on earth and a direct link to God, at the top. Current biographies on the internet are showing him making alliances with other current and former ISKCON or "gaudiya vaishnava" orgs. At least publicly he does not show the title "Prabhupad" but rather "Paramahansa". I will write more on this later.
The means for achieving 'liberation from the endless cycle of birth and death' (re-incarnation) in SoI and 'going home to Godhead' (existing in the eternal bliss of Krishna's heavenly abode) is to accept Chris Butler's teachings as the 'absolute truth' and to engage in 'bhaki yoga' (devotional service).
Devotional service includes acting as a servant in Chris Butler's mansion or his personal kitchen, working in one of the businesses owned by SoI (and 'donating' a mandatory 25% deducted directly from employees wages), serving as a political candidate or other public position under Chris Butler's instruction or acting as an armed bodyguard. Every need for Chris Butler is catered for from doing his laundry to standing up wind from wherever he is as an 'air-sniffer' on alert for toxins and offensive odours or paddling in the surf to give the impression that the beach is crowded so he may surf undisturbed.
Deceptive and co-ercive tactics are used to recruit and maintain followers (devotees) such as claiming to be non-religious and non-sectarian or to be teaching meditation for 'stress relief' and yoga for 'fitness'. Details of Chris Butler's personal history and teachings are routinely concealed or fabricated. Shunning and retribution are imposed on disobedient and former followers.
While claiming to be teaching ancient and traditional forms of meditation and yoga all disciplines within SoI are the modern creation of Chris Butler derived from various influences. "Gauranga breathing" is claimed by Butler to be able to extend one's life while "Deep Peace" meditation is identical to the practice of progressive relaxation hypnosis. SoI has progressively evolved to the level of deception of presenting the ways in which devotees are instructed to live by Chris Butler as a form of yoga. Jaya yoga (Jaya meaning 'victory') was implemented... as a means of guiding recruits to Hawaii where the largest population of devotees and Butler himself live.
Chris Butler 'chastises', humilates, punishes, fines and banishes those who are displeasing to him. 'Chastisement' is a common theme in his recorded lectures where he details the problems his followers have written to him about, seeking his guidance, and derides them or is heard to berate a follower speaking with him in person.
Followers live in the general community, although they maintain strict isolation. Chris Butler teaches that to associate with non-devotees, is dangerous to one's consciousness and will lead to the destruction of their spiritual life. Devotees often live co-dependently of each other, sharing houses and with younger devotees taken in by disciples. There are some small communes especially for young single women where they are kept in near total isolation until marriage.
As it is not acceptable to marry non-devotees many families are related. Marriages and divorces are ordered by Butler and he condones his male
followers having more than one wife. Women are guided to feel useless and incapable of spiritual advancement if they do not have a husband.
Family is taught to be a false identification and raising children is accepted as being 'devotional service' with the only goal of parenting to be raising souls to be followers of Chris Butler.
Once a child turns five they are considered to be of age to become serious about spiritual life ...Sending a child to public school has been declared by Butler to be the equivalent of murdering them.
Followers of Chris Butler or 'devotees' fall into categories on the descending hierachy - 'pure devotees', 'senior disciples', 'disciples', 'students' and 'new people'.
Pure devotee is a distinction reserved for Chris Butler himself and those who are his close personal associates, such as his wife Wai Lana, who he gave the initiated name of Vaishnava dasi - meaning servant of a pure devotee.
In his own teachings Chris Butler places himself on the same level of character and devotion as Jesus Christ who he claims is also a pure devotee of Krishna.
Any action of a pure devotee is deemed to be pleasing to God, even when it contradicts the standards which Chris Butler expects of his followers or the scripture he refers to and has written himself.
Senior disciples are slightly more elite than disciples, ranked according to the length of time they have served Chris Butler as 'surrendered souls' and the closer their personal relationship is to him. Those who are considered to be senior disciples have been on friendly terms with Chris Butler personally and worked on his more ambitious or lucrative 'projects'. Mere disciples have often not even met or personally communicated with Chris Butler, even on their initiation.
The signifigance of 'initiation' is that a devotee has offerred their life and every action to Chris Butler and, according to him, that he accepts them on these terms makes the relationship equal. On initiation Chris Butler bestows a 'spiritual name' which his disciples become known by, typically a Vedic word which (often, but not always) corressponds alphabetically to their original name. He also chants a mantra on their japa beads and returns them in exchange for the promise that they will chant a set number, usually sixteen, of 'rounds' a day for the rest of their lives. A 'round' is one 'Maha' (great) mantra ...on each of a set of one hundred and eight beads which takes with takes about two hours a day.
Disciples are to be deferred to by students in the abscence of Chris Butler, which is typical as he is increasingly reclusive and uncontactable by all but a select few. They act to discipline through meeting among themselves and organise recruitment and projects.
Despite Chris Butler's personally absent spiritual guidance copious instructions are issued by him through his network of secretaries and staff in Hawaii and in his writings and recorded lectures. Disciples rely on contacting him indirectly through these means and issues which are considered important are brought to his attention through his secretary.
Students have had to demonstrate sufficient belief in Chris Butler to become progressively more exposed to his teachings, association with other devotees and involvement in his projects. Most long term students who do not contribute a significant amount of money or have been displeasing to Chris Butler in some way are shunned or considered spiritually dead. Not being initiated does not provide for liberation, creating an imperative to be as pleasing and devoted as possible.
Some disciples have taken advantage of this situation by soliciting money from students for investment and pyramid schemes, developing their businesses via free labour and manipulating sexual favours and money from students in exchange for recommending them for initiation. Chris Butler has shown no interest in these issues when they are brought to his attention beyond directing that all money should be sent directly to him.
New people are defined as those who are not deemed 'serious enough' by the controlling disciples to be given anymore than superficial access to the spiritual nature of the organisation and Chris Butler's teachings.
If a person becomes involved when they are aged beyond their twenties they are regarded with suspicion and may never progress above open classes simply because Chris Butler preaches that the older a person is without becoming his follower the more degraded their consciousness has become. Other factors which are considered is whether a person has a spouse or children that do not attend, whether they are regular attendants and if they have any assets or skills that are useful to service.
Chris Butler has an estimated twenty thousand 'devotees' with confirmed prescences in Australia, Belgium, Canada,China, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Phillipines, Poland,Russia, Switzerland and the United States - particularly Hawaii, California, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Washington and Texas.
SoI meditation and yoga centres, which serve as the primary means of recruitment, operate under various names. Typically titles are based on the location (eg- Australian School of Meditation) or favour the names of 'Chaitanya' or 'Gauranga' (eg- Chaitanya Mission and Gauranga School of Meditation). Names which contradict this general practice have also been documented (eg- Mantra Meditation in Hawaii and Gokula House in Melbourne,
SoI also carries on recruitment through dedicated 'outreach' operating in public spaces, such as libraries, community and youth centres, member's private homes, university campuses, through the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) project, Brandon Raynor Massage Schools and Down to Earth 'Lifestyle Centres'.
Subliminal indoctrination is attempted according to the belief that exposing 'karmis' (non-believers) to the sounds of Chris Butler chanting and the consumption of 'prashadam' (food that has been ritually offered to the deity
Based on these beliefs SoI has established Wai Lana Yoga, which features the chanting of Chris Butler - credited as Siddha, Ajita's Vege Chips, the Down to Earth food chain, Healing Noni Juice and a multitude of smaller scale food service and musical projects, including Chris Butler's own failed rock star aspirations.
Even more abstract attempts to introduce SoI beliefs to an unsuspecting public include the cartoons Ninjai, Karma Kula and Wai Lana's 'Little Yogis' and coveting exposure in the entertainment industry.
As Chris Butler instructs his followers in what career they should take up it is interesting to note how many dedicate themselves to modelling, and acting, especially considering that Butler preaches the superficial nature of such professions and refers to watching movies as a waste of time. Under the guidance of Chris Butler is Radha Mitchell and minor actress Satcha Bellord, a stable of young models and aspiring musicians in Hawaii and Ground Up TV in the Phillipines featuring pop culture alongside solicitous female modelling.
Butler has pursued his political interests over four decades, telling his followers that one of them will eventually be president of the United States. To date he has succeeded in having a disciple on every level of Hawaiian government.
The 70s party Independents for Godly Government which included Rick Reid, Wayne Nishiki, Kathy Hoshijo, Larry Olsen and John Moore dissolved in controversy after Reid was exposed for engaging in dirty campaign tactics, on Chris Butler's orders... Other attempts to manipulate the democratic process have also surfaced.
In 1998 the EarthSave party was established in Australia by disciple Brandon Raynor in which every candidate was a fellow devotee. They failed to win any influence and have since disbanded.
Chris Butler's most successful political endeavour to date has been the Gabbard family. Mike Gabbard (Krishna Katha das) was elected Senator for Hawaii in 2006. Wife Carol Gabbard (Devaruti dasi) spent a record amount to win a place on the Hawaiian Board of Education and daughter Tulsi Gabbard-Tamayo won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2002.
Chris Butler's candidates show no party preference with Republican and Democrat candidates running simultaneously and Mike Gabbard switching from Republican to Democrat less than a year after being elected. Mike Gabbard has denied his allegiance to Chris Butler claiming to be Catholic, despite clear evidence to the contrary including 95% of his very unusual campaign contributions coming directly from SoI members. The only objective is to assure Chris Butler of as much influence as possible. With this same goal selected followers are directed to take up policing and positions with other government departments.
Various pressure groups have also been established by Chris Butler in the interests of gaining a controlling influence in the Vaishnava religious community and demonising homosexuality, with some interest extended to environmental issues. These include being a founding member and installing the president of the World Vaishnava Association, establishing and directing the Vaishnava Internet News Agency, Alliance Against Religous Vilification, Dharam Rakshak, Stand Up for America, several chapters of Stop Promoting Homosexuality and Save Traditional Marriage and the Healthy Hawaii Coalition.
Who is Chris Butler?
The youngest of three sons and a daughter born to Dr Willis Butler and his wife Barbara on 14th June 1948 Chris was born in Louisiana shorlty before the family relocated to Hawaii.
In his lectures to followers Chris does not remember his childhood fondly and as an adult became estranged from his family, apart from his brother Bruce, who became his disciple. He ordered his disciples in personal service to provide no details to his parents about where he was living refused to attend his own mother's funeral.
As an example of how unattached he is to his own 'material body' Chris Butler claimed to not realise that he was white until he was discriminated against by the local indigenous Hawaiians.
Regardless of the different names the experience is the same. During this experience, the individual soul temporarily forgets his individual existence and merges into the impersonal Brahman effulgence... also known as the "clear light" or the "white light".
The experience involved can be brought about through various methods of meditation, prayer, chanting, and in some very rare cases, through the use of psychedelic drugs combined with any of the above mentioned processes. Also by psychosis.
According to legend among Butler's followers it was during an LSD "trip" that he reached the "white light" and claimed that he heard a voice telling him that he needed permission to enter. With this Chris Butler had a realisation that if he needed permission that there must be a higher authority above the impersonal goal. At that point he returned to material existence to share the realisation that God existed.
Origins In ISKCON
"That difference of opinion will continue, what can be done. Siddha Swarupananda Maharaja and his group, whenever they see me they give me money. So they are not against me."
-AC Bhaktivedanta Swami in a letter to his disciple Bhurijana 11th Nov 1975
In philosophy and lifestyle, in addition to sharing many critical aspects, SoI is derived from and maintains a strong resemblance to the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) 'Hare Krishna' movement.
Most of Butler's philosophy, inferred credibility as a guru and his early following stems from his relationship with ISKCON.
There is an abundance of evidence to sugguest that he had a profound effect on the organisation in defining it's more controversial aspects and instigating challenges to authority that have proven highly divisive to this day.
Chris Butler claims to be the only true representative of ISKCON founder and guru AC Bhaktivedanta Swami. He portrays himself as a matyr violently oppossed for his devotion by those who became set on corruption following AC Bhaktivedanta Swami's death.
Chris Butler arrived in ISKCON in late 1970 bringing with him a substantial donation of $18 800, property in Hawaii and between 50 to 100 of his own followers. While the estimation of numbers varies considerably it is generally
agreed that Sai, as Butler was then known, and his following where the largest group to ever join ISKCON.
Bhaktivedanta would initiate over five thousand disciples, but only one received a page in ISKCON's Back To Godhead magazine to commemorate the occassion. Butler wrote offering his obeisances (respects) to Bhaktivedanta Swami, declaring his commitment to ISKCON and lamenting his past
Chris Butler was given the initiated name Siddhasvarupa - meaning 'one that is accomplished in image'in June 1971. This is hysterically funny as he is certainly a master of "image" - of creating a fraudulent persona that has exploited people for years!
Just six months prior to his initiation Butler had produced Sai Speaks to promote Krishna Yoga Community, a reinvention of his pre-existing commune, which was linked to Sivananda Ashram. Sai claimed to have mastered every traditional form of yoga, although he was still only twenty years old, and to be a genuine spiritual master although, he admitted at the time, not in disciplic succession.
In his considerably revised personal history Butler would come to represent to his followers that he had attained to the highest level of enlightenment in the 'impersonal' philosophies (those which do not recognise God as an individual but within each human soul) only to encounter God himself and so become certain of his genuine existence.
At the time Butler was regularly using LSD, a fact he admits to in Sai Speaks and his publication "Drugs" and it was during a 'trip' that he experienced his divine awakening. He would later claim that the name Sai, which means 'master' was bestowed on him by Krishna. The name was actually bestowed on him by his initiating spiritual master of Sivananda Ashram as part of his full initiated name Sai Stokala Adhikari, which appears in Sai Speaks.
Hawaiian followers of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami were affronted by Sai's imitiation of their practices, including leading sankirtan (public chanting parties), collecting money and claims to be following their guru. Bhaktivedanta renounced any connection to Sai and directed his disciples to print and distribute a leaflet of his own design to inform the general public that Sai was not representing Krishna Consciousness.
At the time Hare Krishna had become a household name and being denounced by Bhaktivedanta severely restricted Sai's ability to recruit new followers as he had intended as well as challenging his authority in front of his
Butler sent his closest friend David Muncie, who would become known as Tusta Krishna das, to study with ISKCON and began to corresspond with Bhaktivedanta in a series of letters enquiring about how he could become accepted. The offer of money and other assets was made immediately and received with much enthusiasm.
Despite their success and already having amassed considerable wealth ISKCON was involved with several very ambitious projects and experiencing some difficulty meeting debts. In particular the society's magazine Back to Godhead, founded by Bhaktivedanta in 1944, was unable to meet costs and under threat of being shut down. Butler may have been aware of this fact due to his association with regarded hallucenogenic artist Bob Schnepp who had taken up residence at Krishna Yoga Community after working for Back to Godhead.
Interestingly, under the influence of LSD Schnepp was responsible for producing Butler's 'authorised' images of Krishna. These he tells his followers are the only true and therefore acceptable depictions of God based on his own claims of having seen him in person.
Sai instructed his following who were accustomed to spending their days 'tripping', surfing and embracing the concept of 'free love' that they were joining ISKCON. All copies of Sai Speaks were directed to be burnt and the customs of ISKCON fully adhered to. Specific instructions were given about where followers were to go sugguesting that there was some intention to assume influence within ISKCON in Sai's favour...
By 1966 Gaudiya Vaishnavism was an obscure sect in a land of thousands but by actively appealing to the American 'hippie' culture and aided by highly influential figures including Timothy Leary Bhaktivedanta managed to convince thousands that his was the one true religion.
ISKCON was heavily focussed towards raising money as Bhaktivedanta directed 'by hook or by crook'. Any act intended to benefit the society was deemed not only acceptable but morally superior. As such the popular image of Hare Krishnas became irretrivably linked to public solicition. Contemporary observations refer to dodging gauntlets of saffron robed preachers in every conceivable public space. The New York zoo posted signs advising not to donate to the Hare Krishnas alongside the more traditional Do not feed the animals. A lawsuit was required to remove the abundance of preachers from airport terminals.
The older generations were troubled at seeing so many young people withdrawing from society to live in temples and follow a heavily ritualised lifestyle. Claims of 'brainwashing', control, criminal enterprises and abuse began to surface almost immediately.
In a long running courtcase, beginning in 1976, a minor named Robin George and her parents pursued claims of brainwashing and false imprisonment. In 1983 they were awarded $32 million in damages by a Californian jury, which was reduced to $485 000 in 1993 and eventually finalised by a private
ISKCON was futher tainted by widespread pick-pocketing and various street scams, drug use and dealing, abuse and repression of female members, high divorce rates, seperating parents from their children and abuse of children in their boarding schools.
Sulochana das who documented the direction of ISKCON following AC Bhaktivedanta Swami's death in his book The Guru Business was murdered in retaliation two days after publication in 1982. His killer maintained that he had acted on the orders of his guru Kirtananda, who was later jailed for racketeering.
In 2000 forty four complainants titled "children of ISKCON" filed a lawsuit for physical, emotional and sexual abuse in ISKCON boarding schools.
When AC Bhaktivedanta Swami died in 1977 he left no clear instruction as to who his successor should be. Eleven disciples making up the Governing Body Commission GBC, which Bhaktivedanta had founded himself claimed that they had been appointed. ISKCON was immediately divided by those who accepted the 'successor gurus' and those that did not. Some maintained that Bhaktivedanta had been poisoned.
Chris Butler was the first to publicly denounce the'successor gurus', claiming that they had fraudulently assumed control of the organisation since he himself was the only one qualified to continue AC Bhaktivedanta Swami's mission. Immediately following his death Chris Butler assumed Bhaktivedanta's title of 'Srila Prabhupad' - meaning he who has taken the position of the Lord.
SoI maintains the most fundamental philosophy of ISKCON combined with Chris Butler's ...peculiar world view with him as the central godhead.
SoI does not recognise the distinctive dress code of ISKCON and Butler explicitly instructs not to resemble ISKCON devotees in anyway. There is no position of sanyassi (celibate male preachers) central in the structure of ISKCON and no attempt to follow the emphasis that Bhaktivedanta Swami placed on public chanting, maintaining temples, book distribution and charity.
Chris Butler has never built a temple or undertaken a single charitable project. Gatherings of followers typically take place in parks or on a beach.
Chris Butler's instructions are for religious practices to be cloaked in euphemisms such as 'yoga sound' for names of Krishna, mantra rock (for worshipping Krishna to loud music) and 'yoga lifestyle' for following his teachings on a daily basis.