Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: February 1997
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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DEATH What is the "divine" reason for "Perfect" gurus passing wind? Grace by smell? You see, I have yet to hear a "spiritual" explanation for why gurus perform such natural bodily functions. But when they have a heart attack, get cancer, or have prostrate surgery, I hear lots of excuses. Why? All "Perfect" Masters die, just as all ordinary people die. The big difference, of course, between the two camps is that the disciples of the guru feel a need to develop some fancy reason for why he/she died. When my dear brother, Michael, died just a few years ago our family looked for the naturalistic causes. Yet, when one's guru dies there seems to be a drive or a need to find some "other" cause, as if a heart attack is not a good enough reason. As Faqir Chand once commented to me, many of the "Perfect" Masters he knew died from "imperfect" illnesses. . . with cancer being one of the main culprits. Faqir didn't believe that any of these gurus were bodily or mentally perfect and felt that it was simply just desserts when the so-called Enlightened being died from throat cancer. Well, lots of people die from cancer and lots of "Perfect" Masters die in some obviously uncomfortable ways. ------------- SEX ------------- This is a subject that is so taboo in certain shabd yoga circles that I am even surprised when I find out that so and so guru has kids. For whatever weird historical, cultural, or biological reasons, it seems that disciples of "Perfect" Masters have great difficulty conceiving of the fact that their gurus had sex. I remember shocking my students once when I said that if Jesus Christ was a "normal" human being (remember in orthodox circles, Jesus is BOTH God AND man) then he must have experienced an erection from time to time. Jesus with a hard-on? Just the thought gets people uppity (pun intended?) Perfect Master with a woodie? Faqir Chand, that iconoclastic guru from the Punjab, upset a lot of people in his satsang (including his inner circle) when he publicly declared that the night before he had a "nocturnal emission." Faqir was 87 or so, I believe, at the time. Given India's media prudishness in terms of sex (no kissing in Indian movies until just recently), Faqir's frank revelation generated quite a rise (pun not intended) in the audience. When a tradition cannot allow for a guru to eat a banana with relish (remember gurus don't eat for taste..... sure), you can well imagine how difficult it is to envision a "Perfect" Master having a wet dream. Bad visual, perhaps, but uncommon? Well, given the silence on this subject in spiritual circles (a fact which Faqir deplored since he felt that if gurus were more honest about how they got through the day then the disciples might have a better clue how to do so too), we don't know. But I do know this: There have been some deplorable things done by gurus who claim to be celibate but who were not. When Thakar Singh sexually came on to his female disciples, too many of them tried to "ideologically work" away his transgressions. Why? Because how can a "Perfect" Master stick his penis in a woman's mouth when she is trying to meditate? (I am not making these allegations up, by the way, as they were publicly aired in a documentary in Germany and in Oregon) Easy answer. Perfect masters don't. Corrupt ones do. However, let's back up a few steps first. The real problem in gurus like Thakar Singh, who use their exalted status to secure less than exalted desires, is not merely that they are scum bags, but that they arise in a tradition which does not allow for its "Masters" to be critically examined as mere mortals. I remember talking with several Thakar Singh devotees about their not so pleasant encounters with their guru's open mouth, extended penis, and groping hands.... One of their first reactions, outside of "What the hell is going on," was "What higher purpose is there in this?" "The Guru is Perfect, so he must know what he is doing. Maybe it is my own lust that caused this and he is trying to purify me." "Oh, am I that blessed that he is giving me a new form of prasad?" (By the way, these type of thoughts are common among disciples who have been abused, sexually or otherwise.) No matter how much "gain" there may be in thinking one's Master is Perfect, Thakar Singh and his antics easily demonstrate a much worse downside. And it is exactly that downside that does NOT get discussed in the literature. We hear so much about "trust the guru," "give up your intellect," "whatever the master says is for the disciple's good." But what about when the guru beats the shit out of you because he is in a bad mood? (Thakar has done it--even reportedly killed a woman in order to get rid of the Kal spirit. Can't do it with "no" hands? Oh, I see, if you did it that way you couldn't touch their chest.... enlightened? perfect? try way too human.) What do you do when the guru asks you to embezzle money? What do you do when the guru asks you to manipulate the press? What do you do when the guru tells you to lie (hey, I am not in town, so keep it between you and me.....)? What do you do when the guru makes a mistake? Oops, Perfect Masters don't make mistakes, or at least that's the rhetoric which puts disciples of "human" masters in a catch 22. "Thakar is God, see, and there must be a reason he is blindfolding my 1 year old child and wants to keep him blindfolded for the next four years..... God has my child's best interest in mind." The fundamental problem with Perfect Master rhetoric is that it is a tautology, a circle with no break and, I should add, no discernible logic or intelligence. Once you buy into that rhetoric, you are stuck. Stuck because in order to break the Gordian knot of "Whatever He Says Is For My Own Good" you must "doubt" the very premise in the first place. I recently corresponded with a woman who told me that we should follow our guru's orders no matter what, even if we disagree with him or her. I countered with my horror stories from shabd yoga history, attempting to convince her (but to no avail) that Perfect Masters make mistakes. And we should call them on it! Let's take that classic Tibetan Buddhist story wherein the guru tells his disciple to build a hut. The disciple does it. Then the guru tells him to tear it down. He does it. Then the guru tells him to rebuild it again. And so on and so on. Now the moral of this story is that the Guru knows best and that even when he asks us to do seemingly mindless tasks we should obey. Well, I completely disagree with this. If the guru tells you to do something and you find merit in it, then by all means do it. But if the guru asks you to do something and you don't see the merit in it (indeed you think it is wrong or stupid), then I would argue that you tell the guru to his face. "Hey, Guruji, this is ridiculous. I don't see your reasoning." Just think how much healthier it would be if the "Perfect" Master was "doubted" more often. Back to Thakar: next time your guru sticks his woodman in your mouth, tell him to suck his own penis. Hey, what's good for my spiritual benefit should also benefit the giver, right? Next time Thakar says he wants to blindfold your child for five years, tell him you think he needs a frontal lobe probe. Next time Thakar starts pounding on your chest, ripping the skin out of your ears, sucker punch him right back in his turban and call the cops. Next time your guru says something you disagree with, tell him and be clear about it. It's that simple, but the literary environment surrounding "Perfect" gurus is not that simple and that's precisely the problem. There is way too much "sucking up" in the guru system and that is why Thakar and gurus like him can get away with murder (the cliche' in this case, according to some Thakar devotees, is literally true). Okay, your "Perfect" guru is not a scum bag like Thakar, but you find yourself still grappling with his/her humanness. Call him/her on the little stuff too. If Ching Hai says she wasn't initiated by Thakar Singh but she was, then call her on it until she fesses up (two of my college students were disciples of Ching Hai and point blank asked her about her association with Thakar.... She got ticked off at the question.... hmm). If Sawan Singh says Anurag Sagar was authored by Kabir, but you know that the text is most likely of the 18th century, then debate the issue. If a Beas guru says that Shiv Dayal Singh didn't smoke a huqqa (a tobacco pipe), but you know he did, then tell him he's historically wrong. But is that the kind of approach we are taught in shabd yoga circles? Yes and no. To be sure, it is mentioned (as Tulsi Sahib says, "I will NOT believe my guru until I see the proof with my own eyes") but it is passed over, I feel, much too quickly. Read Julian Johnson's PATH OF THE MASTERS closely. He does not allow for the "Perfect" Master to be less than perfect. That's nice in theory, and I would be the very first to argue for extremely high standards for our gurus, but it's just plain inaccurate in practice. The gurus are wrong on many things and it doesn't take a Sant Mat scholar to list hundreds of examples of it. Just try reading Johnson's own WITH A GREAT MASTER IN INDIA. Who allowed this thing to get published? Yo, there are some nifty parts in the book and I dig the narrative flow of the letters, but what's with the anti-semitism? Johnson's anti-semitism would make Hitler proud and this is supposed to be an INTRODUCTION to shabd yoga? Clearly, any "Perfect" Master would have known that the book contained extremely offensive material. But if the Master was human, and subject to bad advice or bad history or bad judgement, then it is understandable (I am not saying condonable, by the way) how such a racist book could get published during his watch. You see, it is not pleasant to say that our gurus make mistakes, but the obvious fact is that they do. Some of these mistakes are beyond the pale (Thakar's actions, for instance), some of these mistakes are significant (racist material in "spiritual" literature), some of these mistakes are minor (hey, Soamiji DID smoke a huqqa). But let's call them like we see them: MISS...... TAKES! ----------------------------- end part two..... of a continuing series
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