Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 10, 2009 12:31AM

'I grew sick of callousness posing as spiritual refinement'

Robyn Davidson, Desert Spaces.

Am reading a book, Desert Spaces, by Robyn Davidson, a splendid, courageous Australian who spent a year travelling, first in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, later in the Kutch desert of Gujrat, both in northwestern India, with
the nomadic Rabari people.

The lives of the Rabari nomads are harsh beyond our comprehension. Robyn Davidson several times came close to psychological collapse due to language barrier,illness from bad water, sleep deprivation, malnutrition, lack of privacy, seeking a bit of rest on a public bend in town, only to look up and find that she'd attracted throngs of slack jawed, dull eyed louts, hands on their knobs.

(A phenomenon described by other visitors to India, BTW)

Yet Davidson had earlier done a successful camel trek through the Australian desert, with no trouble. She was not a shrinking violet. The Australian desert was lightly populated by Australian tribal peoples who had a hunter gatherer culture that was largely egalitarian. The land was their home, they could roam freely.

By contrast with Australia, the Rabaris of India were nomads in relation to an ancient, hierarchical civilization, centuries old and with patterns of oppression that were multilayered.

'I grew sick of callousness posing as spiritual refinement' Davidson writes.


'If one cannot muster a state of godlike detachment, a sense of impotence is the next best protection from despair.

'India is too big. The problems are too immense. What vanity to think ones own actions coudl make any difference to the swelling flood. The sheer volume of it suffocated every good intention. Here, Life mattered, lives did not...

'To achieve that famous serenity, which is now India's principal export (the frightening, vaporous serenity of the New Age movement), one needed to view individual lives as insignificant, mere vehicles for DNA.

'To achieve the long view, one steps further and further back from lives as they are lived, to that more tranquil position from which one sees only a crowd. From that perspective, human beings become a species, worth preserving.

'But take another step back and it is no longer necessary to preserve the species. There will be another one following us, after all.

'Until the view lengthens to such an extent that the world disappears and one is left only with the cold reaches of space, in a private pas de deux with God.

'Was it possible to accommodate the contradiction between action and, being, to incorporate both long view and short view in ones being, to be both reflective and active, detached and involved? Davidson, page 203, Desert Places

Earlier Davidson wrote in a notebook, during a bit of guilty relief at a hotel, relief her tribal hosts had no access to--something Davidson was humbly aware of. After witnessing horrors on the road she scrawled,

'Huge masses of people are born to no purposes other than to be perpetually hungry and Hinduism has degenerated into an institutionalized abnegation of responsibility to ones fellow man.'

''But where did cultural relativity stop? What morality could be universally applied? When I felt outrage, was I simply a cipher for cultural prejudice?

'At what point would I be allowed to move from the role of uncritical guest (or gurus disciple, forbidden pass judgement--Corboy) to a participant with a right to speak?

'A right to anger?' (Italics by Corboy. Look at the New is training us to think like Indian peasant while earning wealth in America so we can lay that hard earned money at the feet of the New Brahmins--the New Age teachers who forbid us to feel anger or to ask questions about their use of power--power itself is a dirty word. Corboy)

Davidson again:


'If one sees a man, overfed and crammed with gold, holding a cringing 12 year old by the arm and beating him with a large stick, then flinging him to the floor like a bunch of rags, then turning to the white guest, and smiling obsequiously but without shame, because what he has done is in the order of things, is his right, while the bunch of rags crawls off to weep in the corner of a cement room on his blanket on the floor, and falls instantly asleep because he works for the fat man 20 hours a day and is malnourished and exhausted. And if no one says a word and makes any move to stop it, (including myself--Davidson) because the servant belongs to the fat man and anyway it is the child's fate and anyway, would the ones intervention change anything?


'If a highly educated and powerful Brahmin bureaucrat explains to you, seriously and passionately, why untouchables cannot be allowed into higher government positions because "for centuries they have handled excrement and it has entered their minds"


Or the wife of a diplomat, who announced to her book-besotted sixteen year old niece "You must marry rather than educate yourself because if you are educated, you will not adjust to marriage."

'I knew' wrote Davidson 'that it was fruitless to engage in such a conversation (challenging any of this) because what was conspicuous to me was invisible to him and vice versa.
Robyn Davidson, Desert Places pages 200-202



'In such a state of mind (after writing in fury all night at the horrors she witnessed during day and could not change) Davidson says

'In such a state of mind, I might visit Bishan's people down in the nearby village and experience only that unique Indian warm and sweetness, hear only the laughter, and be able to say, as an American acquaintance said after a 2 week holiday in India, by air conditioned bus, that 'the poor looked so happy'

yet (speaking for herself, Davidson continues)

'I would be able, to conveniently forget that in this 'happy' village suicide is extremely common, that only the last month a woman had hanged herself in the forest. Her family, to avoid being charged with murder, had paid many thousands of rupees in bribes to the police, and many thousands of rupees in bribes to the doctor signing the death certificate, and was now entirely destitute, trapped by one twist of fate over the abyss of which every Indian, rich or poor, is acutely aware.

Davidson goes on to write that the corruption is wholesale.

'The village people themselves, when given a chance, also participate in various forms of extortion on the principle that if the rich and privileged can get away with it, and the politicians and the judges and police and the forest officers and the administrators and their own sarpanch, why shouldn't we?

'And this moral corruption has spread so deeply and widely that there seems no way to get rid of it by any means other than a conflagration.

'It is not enough now to find a group to blame...the British or the politicians (vile and craven though they often are) or the industrialists or the bureaucrats--because everyone participates at some level.' Davidson..201--202)

This is the matrix from which the nondual philosophies rationalizing dissociation from
pain and social suffering have arisen.

This is the context from which citizens of participatory democracies that do have a rule of law and mechanisms for seeking justice come looking for help..only to find themselves in a confusing hall of mirrors.

Arthur Koestler arrived in India in 1958 when the bloom of idealism had not yet worn off of Indias new independance, seeking to determine whether Indian spiriutality could answer the perplexities he had as a survivor of both the Spanish Civil War and a witness to the destruction of Europe by the Nazis and Stalinist Communists.

Koestler found that the most celebrated Advaita gurus had no framework by which to address evil and the questions of injustice. Their use of 'long view' vaporized it all into triviality. Koestler found the same frustration when he went to Japan and interviewed
celebrated Rinzai Zen masters.(Koestler, The Lotus and the Robot)

Carl Jung, who visited India in the 1930s, had intuited correctly after all, when he suspected that methods for India would not really work well for Europeans seeking healing. 1945, Carl Jung wrote an essay addressing the moral burden upon Europeans, himself included, now that European culture had failed to assert itself against the Nazis.

This essay by Jung is entitled 'After the Catastrophe' and spoke in grief and shame of what Jung and all Europeans would now have to do to face the rest of the world, now that news of the Nazi concentration camps had been revealed to all the world.

When Jung went to India, he tells us in his Memories, Dreams and Reflections, that he sensed he would do best to work on material that dealt with the deep structure of his own cultural background. So to stay balanced, he went to India carrying some volumes
by European alchemists and analysed their symbolism, while travelling in India and interviewing people there.

It appears Jung did a better job facing the realities of the Nazi concentration camps that that these were a problem that had to be faced by all Europe..and he did better
in addressing that did the Indian gurus and Zen masters whom Koestler interviewed.

I urge anyone interested in problems with nondualism to read both Jeffrey Massons book, My Father's Guru and supplement it with Robyn Davidsons book. She describes the Indian context from which these nondual philosophies emerged. It is a social set up where questioning the established order, no matter how the established order screws you over, is literally, unthinkable.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/28/2019 10:28AM by corboy.

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: quackdave ()
Date: April 10, 2009 02:36AM

Holy smoke and mirrors, corboy, have you ever done your homework! Thank you a thousand times. I had seen TAC do a post on this concept, but you countersunk the nail, so to speak. Hopefully, this bullshit is in the coffin for the rest of my days on this Earth. (imagery intended)

I'm just appalled at the world-wide pervasiveness of this newage horseshit. I truly wonder if there is hope for this planet. For now, I'll side with Carl Sagan and hold out a little hope in his name. Other than that, I'm just sick about this shit.


Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 10, 2009 09:09PM

Dear QD, I wasnt even doing homework. Id found Davidson's book at random in the library, I like travel narratives about Northern India, especially by people who are there as long term residents and as participant observers.

I didnt expect to find so very much in Davidson's Desert Places (early 1990s) that would tie in with what we've been discussing.

Okay, now that we have Davidson telling us a perspective from the early 1990s, here are URLs giving material I found and quoted from Arthur Koestler and Jeffrey Masson (the late 1950s) and material from Richard F Burton, who travelled in India and the Near East in the 1850s..

September 15, 2008 08:13AM (references to 'disconnected ways to live'--quotes from Jeffrey Masson)



Solea wrote:

Is that the kind of emotionally disconnected life that people really want to live?

The answer may be yes. Look at the popularity of iPods. (I call 'em 'ear worms'). Great way to split off and dissociate from one's surroudings.

On a more serious note, if you can, try and get a copy of Arthur Koestler's book, The Lotus and the Robot.

Around 1958, Koestler made a trip to India and then to Japan. He had been affected by both the Spanish Civil War (where he narrowly escaped execution as a POW) and by World War II. Koestler had been a dedicated Communist and finally faced how dehumanizing it was and repudiated his connection to the Party. This too had painful consequences.

So Koestler went to India and to Japan to see if the best minds amongt the Hindu and Japanese Zen elite could offer any answers to questions that mattered to thoughtful Westerners who were troubled by the dehumanizing evil that had been unleashed by both Stalin and Hitler.

To his dismay, Koestler found there didnt seem to be any answers.

But I mention this because Koestler was struck by one feature of Indian life in particular--the staggering levels of noise and the utter lack of privacy. Even the temples were noisy. He stated that he found it easier to find contemplative peace and quiet in New York City than in India.

Worse, those in the Indian spiriutal elite, including MK Gandhi had the attitude that if one was a sufficiently spiriutual person, one would not be bothered by this ambient noise.

Though Koestler did not use the term dissociation (the term did not exist in the 1950s), it appeared to him that all too often in India yoga and meditation were used to split oneself off from a problem or from a painful situation, rather than encountering that situation and then examining ways to solve the problematic features of that situation.

(To Solea,, please dont be content with my thumbnail analysis--I have my biases. I recommend you get hold of Koestlers book).

There is another book by Jeffrey Masson, whose family followed Theosophy and who even had a kind of guru on the premises--Paul Brunton. In 1956, young Jeffrey and his father visited you can get a second perspective to supplement Koestler, who travelled there just 2
years later.

I want to quote something Masson wrote about his reactions as an 18 year old to India, and his response. For it seems to illustrate what Magic called 'spiriutal bypass'. First, young Jeffrey arrived in Bombay/Mumbai--the same place Koestler stayed when first in India. Masson, who unlike Koestler, had already been practicing Theosophical Hindu meditation had a coping strategy:


'This was my first trip outside of Europe and the United States' Jeffrey Masson writes. '..and my first visit to a Third World country. I was not prepared in any way for the reality of India, fo rthe poverty and human suffering that I glimpsed for the first time in my life from the window of the taxicab driving past some of the world's biggest and poorest slums. The only way I knew to deal with this sudden descent into the real world was to immerse myself even more in the shadow world of spirituality. The appalling poverty and disease I saw when I arrived in Bombay did not really exist: it was Maya, an illusion. What you see is not what you get. What you see, the sufering you preceive around you, is unreal, a philosophic illusion ("the external world is a joke and a very poor joke at that", and therefore not be attended to.

'India was particularly well suited to the spiritual insularity I had developed. It too suffered from some of the same debility, so we were well matched. Indian philosophy long ago solved the puzzle of human suffering by depriving it of reality. The philosophers were constantly discoursing on a cosmic double standard. Suffering, misery and unhappiness were defined as such only form the lower(Masson's italics) point of view. From the higher point of view, there was no difference between the wealthy man and the beggar. It was, needless to say, extremely convenient as a balm for any conscience that threatened to erupt when faced with the suffering all around. THis powerful rationalizing phrase---which parallels many other spiritual traditions---was invented by a priviliged Brahmin class to distract (dissociate? C) from the poverty and misery created by this same class.'

page 112

My Father's Guru:A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 10, 2009 09:19PM

Arthur Koestler, who visited India about the same time Jeffrey Masson did



Though I had read about it in books, the din and noise and profanity in Indian places of worship came as a shock. I found that there is more peace to be had in Manhattan than in any Indian town or village, temple or shrine. (Koestler was there in the late 1950s!)
'If the temple was an historic monument, the atmosphere was that of Brighton Pier; if it was a modest local shrine, the scene was that of a family picnic. The voices were shrill and unrestrained, children would caper all over the place with mothers and sisters yelling after them; obeisance was shown to the idol, but no reverence, the feeling of sanctity was completely absence. I began to suspect that I had never encountered a people as uncontemplative as this nation of Yogis. (Koestler, The Lotus and the Robot, page 17)

In a subsection 'The Perils of Distraction' Koestler commented

'I must return once more to the noisy profanity of the temples.
'The absence of privacy (in India) shich characterizes life in the family, makes itself even more storngly felt in the attitude to religion. In the joint household, a man is rarely alone with his wife; in the temple he is never alone with his God. If he wants to be alone with his god, hemust become a hermit and retire to the Himalayas. Hence the prominent part the cave dwelling hermits play in Indian lore.

'The West however misunderstood their significance by regarding them as typical representatives of a nation that values quiet meditation above everything. In reality, they are the exceptions, the rebels against the debasement of religion who take to the wilderness because Indian society is inimical to teh contemplative life...

It is interesting to note what Gandhi had to say on the subject. In 1924, after one of the periodic outbursts of religious hostilities, he wrote in an article:

"Hindus and Muslims prate about no compulsion in religion. What is it but compulsion if Hindus will kill a Muslim for slaughtering a cow? SImilarly, what is it but compulsion if Muslims seek to prevent by force Hindus from playing music before mosques? Virtue lies in being absorbed in ones prayers in the presence of din and noise."

It is a revealing passage. Logically, Gandhi ought to have admonished his Hindu brethren to abstain from making 'a din and noise' in front of Moslem places of worship; instead he admonished the Moslems to tolerate (LOVE WHAT IS? C)what they must regard not only as a nuisance but as a desecration.

'The justificiation for this curiosu attitude is found in (Gandhi's)next sentence, as a Hindu, the notion of hushed silence in the House of God, common to Christian and Moslem, was alient to him: "Virtue consists in being absorbed in one's prayers in the presence of din and noise."

Gandhi was expressing a basic principle of Hindu education in its emphasis on concentration, on teh quasi Yogic power of shutting oneself off from any outside distraction. By an effort of concentration (Koestler has Gandhi imply) everybody ought to be able to live in his own Himalayan Cave in the midst of the turbulent household.

It looks as if these extraordinary powers had been ascribed to the individual as a compensation for the denial of privacy.

'It was all right for Gandhi, who could withdraw into himself in the midst of a crowd, and it was probably all right in a traditionalist society which discouraged individualistic tendencies.

But to the young University student, the person with artistic or intellectual or religious aspirations, the denial of the right to privacy, and the concommittant demand that he should make up for (the lack of privacy) by 'concentration' means a frightful mental strain.

The Lotus and the Robot, pp 141--142

'You (Westerners) have developed the head, the head did not keep pace. With us it was the opposite, it was with the development of the heart that we have been concerned in India'. When Vinoba Bhave said this to me, I accepted it as a truism, as most guilt ridden Westerners do.
'The first half of the statement is certainly true (Koestler had the Nazi concentration camps and Stalin's state orchestrated famines in mind, as also the problems of the newly developed nuclear weapons).

'But,' continues Koestler, 'what evidence is there for the second?'

'If 'heart' refers to charity, the Oriental attitude to the sick and the poor is notoriously indifferent, because caste, rank, wealth and health, are per-ordained by the laws of Karma.

'Welfare work in the slums and care of the poor in general was and still is, the monopoly of the Christian missions in Asia. Gandhi's crusade for the Untouchables and Vinoba's crusade for the landless are modern developments under Western influence--Gandhi himself acknowledged that he was inspired by Christianity, Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thoreau.'

The Lotus and the Robot, page 280

(Note: Fine charitable work has been done by the Ramakrishna Order, but its founder, Vivekananda was also Western educated and was part, not of classical Hinduism but of a movement termed Hindu Reform or Hindu Renaissance. C)

The Lotus and the Robot, page 17

At the same time I also suspected that something essential was escaping me, and that I must be mistaken. (Koestler wrote this last set of lines assuming he was in some way failing...he had come to Asia optimistically hoping Asian would have something meaningful and helpful to say about the problems that concerned Post World War II westerners. He realized there was no answer and by the end of the book wrote that he no longer felt he had missed anything.

Next, Koestler interviewed one of the leading figures in the Hindu hierarchy--the Shankaracharya of Kanchi:

Koestler asked this question: 'Where then, can an individual meditate in silence and enjoy the feeling of being alone with his God?'
His Holiness replied: 'In almost every Hindu home, and in riverside structures, there is a place of daily worship. We can obtain in it the seclusion and silence needed for meditation.'

Koestler then says to the reader:

'It would have been impertinent to contradict the saint by telling him I had visited some of these 'riverside structures' and private shrines in Hindu houses. About the former, the ghats (bathing places) and shrines of Benares for instance, the less said the better; the latter are usually the size of a larder or simply a corner in a bedroom. There would be a small figure of Krishna or Durga with some wilted daisies in front of it, and some oil prints of the Monkey God on the wall.

'But in the average cramped and crowded Indian habitation, that shrine offers no privacy whatsoever. A saint of course, would feel at peace in the midst of any din and noise.

'But,' says Koestler, 'I was concerned with the average person.'

Lotus and the Robot, page 60.

And...remember friends, Koestler was in India in the late was Jeffrey Masson. Electronic gadgets were not yet blaring as they are today, and most transportation was still by animal or on foot...automobiles and motorbikes with their amplified noise were not yet commonplace in India. Yet both Masson and Koestler were troubled by the staggering amount of suffering...and Koestler made additional observations about the whole sale lack of privacy.

Final note: This indifference to the sick and the poor is no longer an oriental monopoly. For the New Brahmins have been teaching a doctrine of misfortune as merely part of 'What Is'--to be passively accepted and bypassed through trance logic, rather than subjected to analysis, cause and effect questioned, and a remedy sought.

In Liberation Theology, there is a stance called hermeneutic of suspicion by which one asks whose self interest and which power structures are preserved or challenged by the assumptions implicit in a text or teaching.

This matter of loving what is, will undermine the very benefits of America covertly valued by the New Brahmins--concentrating wealth, analytical thinking in the hands of an entrepreneurial and power loving few, while turning the multitude into passive acceptors, who remove themselves from participatory democracy...whose existing laws are NOT WHAT IS, but have
been created by participation and can only be maintained by participation.

Do ET and BK vote? Has either one ever done jury duty? Do they participate by paying their taxes?

They benefit from Anglo American law which respects and safeguards property and its orderly transmission and which supports capitalist enterprise.

And gives tax exemption to spiritual enterprise...enabling such enterprises to accumulate wealth much faster than those who must pay their taxes.

All this is not what is. It is made possible by Western analytic philosophy translated into law, into revolutionary thought that created the America that has enabled ET and BK to subverting participatory democracy and teaching citizens to renounce clear thought and regress to the sort of trance logic that could never have created the social resources or communications networks that have made ET and BK's commerical success possible.

And...Western Dualistic thought is needed to invest profit--and you can bet BK and ET either know how to do this, or are wise enough to hire people who do this for them.

All this is legal, BTW. is hypocrisy to tell us to heal ourselves by loving what is, while the person teaching this is accumulating social power and influence and making vast profits by retaining the very kinds of thought patterns he or she is claiming are the root of our suffering.

If ET and BK followed their own teachings 100% they would be in a state of mind that makes long range planning, marketing impossible.

Koestler wrote

By an effort of concentration (Koestler has Gandhi imply) everybody ought to be able to live in his own Himalayan Cave in the midst of the turbulent household.

"It looks as if these extraordinary powers (of concentration) had been ascribed to the individual as a compensation for the denial of privacy

'It was all right for Gandhi, who could withdraw into himself in the midst of a crowd, and it was probably all right in a traditionalist society which discouraged individualistic tendencies[/i]. "

(Corboy commentary)

'But this is another thing that the New Brahmins (new age entrepreneurs and export gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Sankar and Amma are doing--they are combining this demand that we shut out and bypass noise, discord, suffering, yet not in service to a clan or traditionalist society that discouraged individualistic tendencies, as happened in the Indian caste system, but combine this splitting off from suffering and discord, with a very aggressive form of individualism, which means one can use these strategies to disown relationship ties according to one's own passing whims and fancies.

(Or...better yet, dissociate from the problems of our own society, dissociate from what you can do as a citizen, dissociate from suffering you inflict on ones family by ones involvement with a greedy guru, dissociate from suffering your guru inflicts on you or your friends, ('I feel bliss, what happens to others isnt MY experience') give up individuality and live in a clan of guru worshippers..

.but preserve ones individualism just enough to function in Western society as a money earning unit--for one's guru or ones new age entrepreneur leader-corboy 4-10-09--interpolated into a older quote. You give up your individualism to serve the guru, but are just enough of an individual to remain employable in a particatory democracy. You conceal your actual feudal mental set when you are at work, pretending to be an individual, and you pretend to be an individual when paying your taxes, but you forget and dissociate from all this when engaging in feudal minded participation merger with your guru and his 'clan/cult')

This combination of a coping strategy designed for life in a non-democratic clan system with little privacy and in combination with Western individualism and consumerism, and permission to disown the pain of being a citizen in a participatory democracy by ignoring the need to participate by trancing out and denying the reality of citizenship and relationships..

This is something new and very worrisome. And we are damn right to preserve as a think tank where these implications can be discussed and without troll interferance.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2008 06:45AM by corboy.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/28/2019 10:05AM by corboy.

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 10, 2009 09:25PM

Finally, perspective from Captain Richard Francis Burton, who travelled India and the Near East in the 1840s and 1850s.

Agehananda Bharati who is quoted next, lived as a monk in India in the 1950s, in monasteries and wandering as a sadhu, and taught philosophy at the University of Delhi and then later, at Benares Hindu University. He later became an anthropologist and taught at the University of Washington and ended his career on faculty at the Syracuse University in New York state. He died in the early 1990s, about the time Robyn Davidson was walking with the Rabari people through the Kutch Desert. He would have appreciated her book, because Bharati loved India but was deeply worried
that so many people sentimentalized both India and its spiritual traditions, and based their sentimentality on presuppositions that were not true and could not in any way be supported by textual evidence or archeology.


A final note on differences between Indian and Western attitudes about privacy:

If anyone thinks that Koestler's view point is rare or eccentric, Captain Richard Francis Burton made a similar observation in the 1850s, though he expressed it in language much different from Koestler. Burton was a hardy man, an explorer, a career soldier. But even he had this to say--and he said it despite loving India and being far more willing than the average Englishman to acculturate--to the point of learning the languages and going under cover disguished as one of the locals:

'...we English have a peculiar national quality, which the Indians, with their customary acuteness, soon perceived, and described by an opprobrious name. Observing our solitary habits, that we could not, and would not, sit and talk and sip sherbet and smoke with them, they called us "Jangli"--wild men, fresh caught in the jungle and sent to rule over the land of Hind.

'Certainly nothing suits us less than perpetual society, an utter want of solitude, when one cannot retire into oneself an instant without being asked some puerile question by a companion, or look into a book without a servant peering over one's shoulder, when from the hour you rise to the time you rest, you must ever be talking or listening, you must converse yourself to sleep in a public dormitory and give ear to your companions' snores and mutterings at midnight.

Burton, Richard F: A Personal Narrative of the Pilgrimage from Al-Medinah and Meccah, Volume One, Dover Reprint, first published 1855, the Dover Edition being a reprint of the 1893 memorial edition.

And in his book, The Light at the Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism, published in 1970, Agehananada Bharati did an anthropological examination of nondual realization and the social roles in India (and the Indiophile West) associated with valuing such experience, questing for it, and the social roles of seeker, experiencer, and guru.

'Once the modern Hindu householder has done his preparatory observances (commitment to a vegetarian diet if he has not done so, abstention from sex--Bharti noted that the only yogis who are women are widows)..and has settled down to asana, the visible parts of his yoga are exhausted, it is these visible "actonic chains" as Marvin Harris would calle dhtem which establish a man (in the recognized social role) as a lay yogi.

By about this time, his family has reserved sufficient time and space for him, to do virtually as he wants. A niche or room in the house is tacitly given over to him, and no one will enter it from then on. It is expected that he will devote ever more time to his meditation, and if this process continues for a number of years, the man will be known to people in his locality as a yogi, a teacher

(Bharati The Light at the Center page 163)

This might still be little privacy and quiet by Western standards but is a very great amount by Indian standards. context is important here. A coping strategy of 'tuning out' through spiritually rationalized bypass of a noisy, suffering social context that one has no personal resources to escape from or remedy, might be
the equivalent of valium, and a means of adaptation--to that particular social context, where people are already very, very related with one another.

But in the West, where it is harder to maintain relationships, and where we are already quit often alienated and need more face to face engagement, rather than suffering from social overload as is the case in India, importing Indian methods of spiritually rationalized disenagement and bypass of suffering might increase our Western forms of narcissism and disengagement/alientation, rather than healing these.

These questions have to be asked. I am not saying dont do yoga, but be prepared to fine tune yoga so that it will actually remedy Western forms of malaise and selfishness---rather than increasing these.

ET and BK have combined western forms of hyper-individualist captialism, with disregard for suffering and by discarding two key features of Western spirituality at its best:

*Love your neighbor as yourself/you are your neighbor's keeper

*The inherant dignity of the ordinary unenlightened human person

For America especially is not a densely populated ancient civilization as India is. America is still socially a frontier, a land of wide open social and physical spaces, where we need help connecting and lending a helping hand, not yet more encouragement to isolate and look out for Number One.

A friend who grew up in farm country said that in her area, if you saw a neighbor's cow in trouble, you climbed under the neighbors fence, checked the animal and then called the farmhouse to alert them. They would do the same for you. Thats the frontier mentality at its best.

Not let the suffering animal lie there, love what is, and fail to phone the neigbhor.

Literally the one respectable way to get some personal space, both in terms of time and physical space, and allowances for introversion the Indian context, to become a yogi, a hermit, first at home and then more radically in some cases, by leaving home and looking for seclusion. compensation for the lack of privacy and vast suffering in Indian life, a particular kind of spiritual practice and set of mental and emotional escape hatches within that spirituality, seem to have come about--socially and spiritually sanctioned bypassing via 'concentration' that may often have been dissociative, and thus not a strategy that would have led to remedying the misery that led one to split off from it using yoga or nondual word spinning with through logic dissolves all problems into illusions that can be ignored or--loved for 'what is'---rather than being questioned and seen as something to be remedied.

If we had kept loving infections diseases for 'what is', we wouldnt have had immunization strategies, or antibiotics and a lot of us, perhaps including BK and ET would not be alive today.

And....many of us are now alive today to argue the issue and many more, on

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2008 07:23AM by corboy.

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: quackdave ()
Date: April 11, 2009 09:55PM

Thanks again, corboy. However humble you may be about it, you've done some great research here. You may not realize how much this information helps me. To me, it's as if I now have the last piece of the puzzle that I've been looking for. This is my true enlightenment, at least regarding the issue of Advaita a/k/a non-dual thought. I look out onto the street and the Emperor has no clothes; the Emperor is stark, fucking naked! I'm 100% serious. I apologize if I seem to be ass-kissing, but I feel that saying this might benefit the silent readers of this thread. This is powerful, powerful knowledge. The fact that Jung, Koestler, Davidson and others have gotten their observations down on paper is just amazing. What's not amazing is that my 'teachers' never pointed me to this literature. Go figure.

I think the dozen years I spent working on myself to become teachable have finally paid off in gold. What has always mattered to me most, was knowing the truth about things. I think you know what I mean.


Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: helpme2times ()
Date: April 11, 2009 10:00PM

I also appreciate all the research Corboy has been sharing, in this thread and elsewhere. Thank you so much, C!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2009 10:01PM by helpme2times.

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 12, 2009 10:58AM

Am glad to share this. I have a magpie mind and just never stopped reading.

Am sometimes not even sure why I keep picking up particular books.

But all I have shared are a few snippets. And...Ive been reading this way for years. The stuff I have shared in the past few posts ranges from books I found over a fifteen year period. Am not kidding.

Jung is someone people tend to quote in snippets. I remember what a surprise I had when I read his autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections in full. He wrote essays on differences between Eastern and Western thought. Agehananda Bharati's two books, Light at the Center and Ochre Robe have been mightily helpful.

So has Massons book.

And..Richard F Burtons books.

Karma Cola by Gita Mehta is yet another. One thing I did was try to read things recommended by Bharati. He is the one from whom I learned about The Robot and the Lotus by Arthur Koestler.

Robyn Davidson's book was a recent and unexpected find--stumbled upon it just the other day at the library.

Am glad I could spill some of this into your laps so that we could all share the fun.

Here's something else you and quackdave can do.

Find a translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

I only today for the first time in my life began reading it.

The first two to three cantos, where Arjuna is horror stricken at the prospect of waging a war in which his family and relatives will die, a war so horrible that even victory will be joyless and he says he would rather die himself or go through life a beggar rather than perpetrate such horror by fighting as a warrior...

Krishna, a god, comes up with all sorts of sophisticated theological reasons why it is delusional and cowardly for a warrior like Arjuna to abandon his vocation as a fighter and that compassion is a manifesation of delusion...

To me the thing read like a Nazi indoctrination treatise.

Yet the Bhagavad Gita has an unquestionable place and people leap to rationalize its horrors, claiming it has some exalted esoteric meaning that makes its surface rationalizations of violence actually a holy teaching that requires spiritual attainment to perceive.

This reminds me of the way disfunctional families close ranks to make excuses for a rich and powerful relative who is a drunken brute and makes passes at young women.

If I pretzeled my mind to turn the Gita into a holy teaching, I'd have to forget everything I know about how religion, any religion can be perverted to rationalize violence, and forget what the Nazis did to my grandmother.

I am not willing to forget what I know.

Really if you want to be shocked, go try and read the Gita without any presuppositons that it has moral authority.

What scares the pants off me is that I bought my copy of the Bhagavad Gita 15 years ago, the day I knew I was leaving the Catholic Church.

I bought the BG as a sort of defiance, but then put it aside and did not get around to reading it until now.

Had I read it when in my early rebellious mood after leaving Catholicism, and at a much younger age than I am today, I might well have swallowed it whole, thinking it was something ancient to which I owed respect and had no right to pass judgement.

After seeing what my own country did to rationalize torture during the past 8 years, the last thing we need are more teachings using religion and clan loyalty to make compassion seem delusional--and to demonize ones opponents as subhuman, whose lives mean nothing and who can be killed without an afterthought.


(Note: attempts have been made, including by Shankara, to make it seem the Gita is
an advaita text. It is not. It is a devotional text, based on presupposition that there is a god apart from the seeker, who must be worshipped and in whom one puts one's faith. It runs throughout the text.

It is because of this slant that the Gita is user friendly to persons coming from a Christian background. God is worshipped, not merged with--merger with God/Absolute is the goal in Advaita. )

Agehananda Bharati survived the Nazi occupation of Europe, witnessed an altar to Hitler set up in a public plaza in his home city of Vienna, as part of Hitler's birthday celebration.

He wrote that the problem he saw with the Gita was that it justified jingoism, killing for your clan on behalf of a higher good. He also had reservations because the Gita was a text that could be used to justify just about any was something anyone could use to support any sort of agenda...probably why the BG has become a rhetorical favorite and used a badge, says Bharati, of Hindu Reform identity.

So...just because something is ancient and name dropped all over the place doesnt mean we have to roll over and accept it.

I really and truly was shocked to read the first 3 chapters for the first time today.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2009 11:11AM by corboy.

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: helpme2times ()
Date: April 12, 2009 08:24PM

Regarding the Bhagavad Gita... wow. I had a similar experience when I was enrolled in an interfaith seminary and required to read the Koran. It wasn't long before I felt horrified by what I was reading, to such an extent that I dropped out of the seminary and never went back.

Was relieved years later when I came across this and discovered I was not alone in my reaction:

[[url=]Why I Left Islam[/url]]

Re: Abuse in the Name of Advaita - Charlie Hayes et al.
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 12, 2009 09:20PM

I am not writing as someone who hates India or hates Hinduism.

Am putting this out here in case someone comes along and tries to throw that out.

What I disapprove of is not India, is not Hinduism, it is cruelty, especially when religious argument is used to make cruelty seem praiseworthy, or make it seem trivial and not worth troubling oneself about.

I am actually writing as one who wishes I had recognized my interest in India sooner, so I could have travelled there when still young and healthy when I had more time and money.

What troubles me is bigger than India or any Asian belief system.

The New Age scene has borrowed many elements from Asian philosophies and is doing this too.

I write all this this on because I am troubled that so many of us who are lucky enough to be born into areas of the world where we can be members of participatory democracies, lucky enough NOT to be born into peasanthood, are allowing ourselves to be indoctrinated into the mindset of unquestioning feudals.

My beef is that the persons indoctrinating us are not peasants themselves. They retain a broad strategic minded horizon, while perverting spirituality into getting us to narrow our own horizons into mental feudalism.

They get us to go blind while keeping their own eyesight, and not buying into the mental fog they waft toward us.

They get us to think fuzzily, while gazing at us like sharp eyed birds of prey.

These New Wage Brahmins want to train us to narrow our horizons, think like peasants, and return to a medieval fatalism as regards social injustice--while ensuring that along with medieval indifference to other peoples suffering and to our own, we retain just enough of a modern capitalist work drive and enough of a modern sense of personal responsiblity that we feel personally responsible for the gurus welfare, and work like capitalists, using modern technology, to support the guru who takes our modern money, invests it using modern banking technology, yet keeps our minds medieval.

Modern at work, we are medieval in relation to the guru, who wants us to be peasants but retain modern adaptablity in the workplace.

Thats my beef.

We are trained to have a modern sense of agency at work, but dread that a single doubt about the guru will make the guru sick or give us evil karma. Yet if a computer malfunctions, we know to call the IT specialist.

We are allowed to stay just modern enough to be functional and earn income in a modern society for a guru who exploits both medievalism and modernism--trains us
to think like peasants, using modern technology to recruit us....and modern methods of marketing to advertise LGAT methods that use modern methods to medievalize our minds.

We get to think as peasants and be as psychologically as defenseless as peasants in relation to the guru or New Brahmin using modern technology while hiding that usage under a layer of brocade or an adroit use of stage lighting.

The guru talks as if in a nondual state, 24 hours a day, but no one can stay in such a state and market oneself. The secret is, the guru has access to dualistic thinking whenever it suits his or her worldly advantage, while telling us that dualistic thinking is the cause of our suffering.

One needs dualistic thinking in order to strategize and plan a marketing these gurus do.

What I dislike is the dishonest use of Hinduism, which I fear is not at all a modern problem but as old as the hills.

The powerful have always used religion to shift the game to their advantage. .

What I dislike is any set up where we are forbidden to discuss that this is even so...and especially that when in the US, where we have the First Amendment, efforts are made
to disrupt the few discussion venues available.

One thing that gets me in reading Robyn Davidsons book about the Gujrat desert tribes among whom she travelled for a year, was the level of activity and sheer exhaustion everyone endured.

One was literally too tired to think, let alone speculate. People were to busy surviving to have questions about the larger social framework that was stacked against them. The men spent an entire day burning day, walking, standing, grazing the flocks of sheep and goats, living on just a few flatbreads cooked that morning.

One started the day at sunrise, and the entire day was spent in harsh physical labor--pounding out thorn bush for campfires, drawing water. If one purchased grain, one had to then carry it home in a sack, then sift it for pebbles before re-bagging it. One got little sleep at night, and if you could not learn the technique of taking micro naps through the day, you'd end up crazed from sleep deprivation. Water was dirty, the author became too exhausted to filter it, and malaria and parasitic infections were common. The author contracted either bovine TB or brucillosis when one of the camels breathed into her face. we are in the West, with the time and energy to be able to do this kind of thinking....and we so readily throw this freedom to think and feel and yes, freedom to communicate, away---all one needs is clever person who cons us to believe that critical thinking is wrong

When, the energy and time that make critical thinking possible are...luxuries, blessings.

Yet, we throw them away.

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