17 March 2015


Well, well. Things have not changed so much in the spiritual world, from Krishnamurti to Shankarananda. Fifty years of alleged scandals shaking spiritual organizations. With Krishnamurti, Joel Goldsmith, and Robert Adams, it was about who was to control the organizations they built, and the written teachings.

I have received private contacts from both sides of the alleged scandal hitting my friend Shankarananda’s ashram.

The critics have been noticeably deficient in details of the allegations, such as what Shankarananda did, to whom and when. The charges are largely generic with little specificity which lowers their credibility.

Then I get another contact from a Shankarananda supporter that things are not as they first appear. The critics have a lot to gain if Shankarananda is pushed out.

From now on I believe nothing without proof, or at least enough detail to make a charge credible.

“Shanks,” as I knew him, has been a friend of mine for almost 40 years. I love Shanks. Yes, we have had problems between us over those years, and I always had a problem with his lack of openness and secrecy. But I had the same problem with Robert Adams secrecy also.

Yes, Shanks could be arrogant, but he also laughed at himself when he was being outrageous. He is a gentle and reasonable soul who ran a beautiful ashram in Los Angeles that I loved to attend. The ashram had a sweetness that I found lacking in many Siddha Yoga ashrams. But he was also easily narcissistically wounded and thus very vulnerable.

I repeat, I love Shanks, and I have difficulty believing he is capable of being as coercive as he has been portrayed by some. Manipulative, suggestive, pushy--yes. But as the sociopath as portraed? I doubt it.

Also, I have seen these sexual abuse allegations at almost all of the Zen centers I have been associated with, and of course the whole Siddha Yoga organization.

Recently the supposed scandalous behavior of Sasaki Roshi came at light after he turned 106. Supposedly he had been sexually abusing women for over 40 years. I was there during a period when the abuse was supposedly at it height, and everyone knew of his predilections, but no one complained. Women talked about it to me in a joking way, but I was not aware of claims of abuse, pain, etc.

Look, why the focus on this? There has been a profound feminist restructuring of morality around sex, which has become the PC attitude. It is always the man’s fault and women are poor, abused, manipulated, hurt, dupes.

Secondly, I know Devi well. Devi is an extraordinarily strong woman, and frankly, I can’t imagine all this going on without her knowledge and intersession.

I repeat again a phrase I heard somewhere, was it from Francis Bennett or elsewhere? I don’t remember. But an elder priest told a junior priest who had admitted to an evil and dissolute life before he found Christ, thinking he may not be of a cut to be a successful priest. 

The elder priest told him, “The saint is not a moral exemplar (especially since morality changes decade by decade), but a bringer of life.” That is, a true guru brings a person out of pain and suffering into life, either of the Manifest Self of passion and Self awareness, or to the transcendental Absolute of supreme peace.

Sometimes sex might do this, sometimes it might do the opposite and be damaging. But because it can bring life, I would not simply ban sex between a teacher and a student, or between any two consenting adults even if they are in other relationships. Love is the most important thing to keep alive, like a small flame on a cold day in the snowy woods. It has to be tended to and nurtured with a lot of attention.

And pain? Pain--emotional pain-- is part of daily life. One must learn to absorb pain and use it to find Self-Realization. Sometimes pain is a bringer of life. I don’t mean the pain that Hitler brought, but the normal pains we feel when slighted, ignored, lied about, loss, death, divorce. These are good pains, they make you know you are alive.

No one speaks about how helpful Swamiji has been to others and how. We only hear the mud as it hit’s the wall. How many people have found life through him? How many have found love or personal growth through him? Why did the aggrieved parties stick around if they were being so aggrieved, so hurt, so wounded by his actions? Have they no part in this drama as co-creators of the drama, or are they only victims of an abusive manipulating guru?

Shankarananda was never that powerful. He is no Rasputin or Svengali. He is an ordinary man with deep spiritual reaches and training, and I assume the “injured” parties are not as innocent as claimed. I know he was profoundly shaken when he found out about Baba's sexual adventures and maybe made a decision to carry on in that way himself. 

I don't know. All we hear are allegations and I never heard any defense until a recent message from a supporter.

AND, sex along with love can be a bringer of life. Maybe that is how Muktananda used it. I know Robert showed many women a lot of attention because he thought they needed it.

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