In such a case, I would suggest the need for the kinds of western notions and structures of egalitarianism you raise are culturally and practically inapplicable.
How endearingly forthright. Is this told, up front, to all current and prospective members of Isha? It should be. Or they will not fully know what they are getting into.
At most, I would want to learn yoga and meditation. That doesnt mean I would want to renounce the mental skills and beliefs that enable me to function as a citizen in a participatory democracy. I would want to remain a citizen as well as a yogi, not become a subject to a monarchical guru.
So if in Isha one must give up the mental and emotional skills of citizenship and allow oneself to be shaped into a suppliant subject to a guru-king, and that Isha considers this a necessary part of becoming a yogi--all prospective members need to know this before they get involved.
If a person shifts from being a citizen to becoming a subject, they should know this is what is expected of them, so that they can make that renunciation consciously, not sleepwalk into it and find themselves
unconsciously becoming subjects. That is not spiritual and I refuse to accept that matters are different in India.
I hope Isha will tell all its current and its prospective US members
that "western notions and structures of egalitarianism you raise are culturally and practically inapplicable."
Wonder what neighbors down the road in Tennessee would think of this?
Isha has taken up in the US and proposes to build itself an ashram in Tennesse.
This means that an organization whose representative has stated that 'western nations and structures of egalitarianism are culturally and practically inapplicable."
But...these same principles and structures of egalitarianism are at the root of the concepts that underlie both the laws and institutions of the United States of America. And underlie, by extension the laws that enable "religious" entities like ISHA tax exempt status.
Isha therefore seems to favor a non egalitarian, perhaps monarchical guru system, yet is going to be allowed to accumulate wealth at a faster rate than tax paying unspiritual citizens of the United States, because it will be able to claim tax exempt status from a democracy that shelters it and has egaglitarian principles and structures...that Isha may consider 'culturally and practically inapplicable"---but whose tax exemption laws will be of the utmost practical importance in sheltering Isha.
At the very least Isha should concede that the generosity of US democracy is of the utmost relevance to its future, for US democratic institutions will give Isha shelter from taxation, even though Isha's belief system is different from the US mainstream religious traditions.
America may be spiritually inferior, but legally we are a model of generosity when it comes to our trustful willingness to offer tax exemption to spiritual projects.
So at the very least, Isha should show some verbal respect and even gratitude to Western structures and principles of egalitarianism for having made the USA and its tax exemption laws possible.
One final note:
Even if the members of Isha have private means, who is going to wait on them and clean the toilets?
We are expressing concern lest persons who are not already wealthy are coaxed to join Isha, do the peon jobs for room and board and a bits of gurus grace, and then get ejected in middle age, to become a care and burden to the society that Isha never supported with its taxes.
For this is what happened in Siddha yoga.
It is a remarkable thing that so very many Americans are willing to forget the principles of participatory democracy and think the only way to become spiritual is to enact the role of feudals in a petty kingdom.
And the gurus who come here acting as kings, nevertheless are quick to exploit the tax exempt catagories afforded by the western democracies whose principles they consider unspiritual.
These tax exempt policies result in Isha and entities like it, being tacitly supported by those of us unspiritual types who do end up paying tax and thus indirectly support the pretensions of wanna be kings and queens who dress in guru drag--and who by not paying US tax, are enabled to accumulate wealth at a faster rate and who can sneer at all demands for accountablity by referring to the cultural differences between India and the US.
This contempt for democracy combined with willingness to exploit its protections so as to build a feudal society that is anti democratic, while smilingly exploiting the resources of the host democracy is an insult to the US, and it is a practice that now troubles thoughtful and modern minded Indians.
Modern minded Indians love their spiritual heritage but dislike seeing gurus behaving as aggressive wealth accumulators, using the forms of tradition calling themselves Brahmins while behaving as commodities brokers using spirituality as product.
Thoughtful Indians even have a term, 'export guru' for those who come to the West using the guru profession to impose on persons who lack experience and dont know how to tell the difference between a mere spiritual entrepreneur versus a true teacher.
By tradition, gurus never gave diksa (intiation and mantra) for a money-fee, never. One offered a token amount of fruit and and cloth, and incense, but one didnt buy it as a commodity.
And when one became a sadhu, ones intiating guru chanted renunciation vows with the initiate, abandoning all wealth, family life, stable lodgings.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/15/2008 09:58PM by corboy.