16 August 2010

A Post-Script to my Posting on "Eat, Pray, Love"

One thing that has always seemed most extraordinary to me is that there are decades of rumors and more direct accusations of sexual misconduct on the part of Muktananda and others in the hierarchy of Siddha Yoga, and yet somehow, mysteriously, unfathomably, this reflects on Gurumayi. I simply can’t comprehend this. First of all, we are not responsible for what others do. That’s kinda hornbook law, don’t you think? Otherwise, kind of a mess, with me having to go to prison for what you’ve done and like that.

Okay, okay, so, a, b, c, 1-2-3, a very young girl is “given” by her parents to this man when she is oh, what, 9? 10? And somehow, mysteriously also, it never occurs to those who are so very vitriolic in their criticism of her that perhaps she was actually one of the victims of this sexual abuse? Instead, somehow, mysteriously, Muktananda’s (and her brother’s) sexual misconduct with devotees is supposed to reflect on Gurumayi’s integrity as a teacher. Excuse me? How exactly does THAT work? And why is it that those “accusing” SYDA and so on never once (and believe me, I have looked!) suggested that this woman herself might have been abused as a child by these people. (Certainly I do remember how very rude Muktananda was toward her when she’d grown up to be his translator. And I’ve heard others notice that.)

As to my thought that she was possibly abused, I certainly don’t know that this is true. How on earth would I know? But what I can’t understand is, why has no one else asked the question? Just like why is everyone so up in arms about Catholic priests sexually abusing young boys, but not the women or nuns in their charge? Does anyone with a lick of sense actually believe women in the Catholic Church have not been abused? (Or any other place, such as prisons, protestant churches, the workplace, etc., where unchecked influence and authority are given to men who simply aren’t questioned?) So why aren't all these armchair critics of Gurumayi stumbling over these totally obvious questions?

I heard one rumor that Gurumayi actually beat her brother with a ballbat in Hawaii upon discovering that he, as Co-Guru, had been sexually involved with devotees. (Please note, again, I said rumor. So, nobody sue me, okay? Believe me, it wouldn’t be worth your time.) If, in fact, she realized that her beloved younger brother had raised by Muktananda, Werner Erhard, and the other men running the show, to become a sexual predator, couldn't that just enrage her to the point of violence? Ya think? And yet, again, mysteriously, in all the innuendo, and “exposure,” “evidence,” and so regarding this teacher and her movement, nobody but nobody but nobody has raised the possibility that as Malti, a young girl under the charge of a bunch of randy old men, far from home and sanctuary, might have been, oh, I don’t know, at RISK? What a concept! Whether or not my ponderings are based in fact is not the issue here. The issue is, why are people who live in America in the 21st Century not asking what to me seems such a totally important and obvious question? In their determination to to “expose” the Guru, are they truly unable to see what to me is a very large gray Indian elephant in the living room? And if indeed my wonderings do have some truth to them, wouldn’t that just explain a whole hell of a lot about why, in the end, she might simply walk away from the whole mess?


Anonymous said...

Since reading the X blogs I vibe that GM was molested and often wonder if she has Stockholm Syndrome. My heart goes out to her for that childhood. The misogyny in this goddess worshipping group and our world in general is astounding.


A Veil Of Gold said...

Women don't have the oppertunity really think about sexuality. Religion which is male oriented even if it's a woman channeling, being the practioner, it is still loaded with that which benefits men. Sexual behavior/expression is dictated by religion/men. So, being given at a young age begins in mysogyny. Your not, and never were for yourself. That is the norm. How else would it be? Most women unconsciously adhere to this.

Anonymous said...

the question of gurumayi being abused by muktananda has been extensively discussed on ex-syda and other "post-syda" groups with, I might add, a great deal of compassion.

Anonymous said...

I've been wondering this for many years as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mugsy,

I came to your blog via your posting of this letter at salon. The questions you raise touch on what has been for me one of the most painful, heartbreaking things to accept about Gurumayi – that she may have been directly abused by Baba. In response, I want to share an excerpt from something I wrote a few years ago after reading Marta Szabo’s book. (Please see posts to follow . . .)



p.s. If you’re interested, I too posted letters at salon, under the rebuttal from the SYDA Trustees.

Anonymous said...

One of the most significant things that became clear to me after I finished The Guru Looked Good is this:

There was a time when Gurumayi was Malti – and Malti was a young, beautiful girl living in 1960s India with every aspect of her life dictated to her by her parents, the (no doubt suffocating for someone with her personality) culture in which she lived, and the beliefs, traditions, protocol and religion in which she was raised.

In hindsight, Malti was thrust by her parents at age 13 into the arms of a man she believed or was led to believe was God incarnate. Now, as a parent, the ultimate results of that scenario are heartbreaking to me.

Baba showed her the world, adulation, wealth, fame, and perhaps most significantly A WAY OUT of her oppressive life and the times in which she lived (if only she could hold on . . .).

He also abused her wholly (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually), abused others, and succeeded in silencing her about that abuse forever, long after his death, long after all his wealth, fame and adulation became hers. And even, as it turns out, long after she decided she wanted a way out of all those things too.

The above conclusions may read as complete speculation but they are truths for me that Marta’s book helped me realize I’d had buried deep in my gut for years, ones I chose to overlook during SY’s heyday in the early 1990s, things I rationalized were “not my experience,” feelings The Guru Looked Good inspired me to revisit and accept.

The above conclusions also put together for me the puzzle pieces of GM’s intense rage towards her parents her rage against her brother, desire to erase her family from her personal history, have control of the organization, all of it.

These are tragic conclusions about a tragic story. Worst of all perhaps is the epic dysfunction/karma of Gurumayi’s relationship with Baba.

But, sadly, GM’s early years in many ways parallel those of so many of us who were damaged, abused or oppressed as children – and then later sought ways, successful or not, to escape or heal ourselves through our relationships, drug use, spiritual seeking, or our work in the world.

In retrospect, how ironic so many people who carried their own history of abuse were drawn energetically to Gurumayi – never knowing the common past they shared. It seems such a missed opportunity now. Just imagine if she’d come forward after Baba died and made healing in this area a specific focus in her work. That’s a lot to ask of any 27-year old, much less one who just inherited a multi-million dollar worldwide spiritual dynasty, but what a very different teacher she might have been, what a very different path Siddha Yoga might have become . . .

Anonymous said...

(continued) . . .

I’ve spoken with other ex-SY folks who refuse to see her as a victim in all this. But when I think of her now I feel heartbreak, not anger. I think of her recently turning 50. I think of her losing both parents a few years back, and losing the chance to resolve things with them while they were still alive. I think of her not wanting to attend, or not being able to attend their funerals; I think of her not being there with her brother, other siblings and family at such a time.

I will always feel grateful for the doors Gurumayi opened, doors I would have never gone through otherwise. The practices, her presence, and my belief in both carried me safely through some very treacherous waters.

I also marvel (though in very different way now) at all Gurumayi did accomplish – especially given everything else that was going on behind the scenes, and all the personal demons she may have been battling, consciously or not.

For all the darkness there was a lot of light; in spite of all the damage healing occurred. I realize many other former SY folks may not see it this way, but this is the view from where I’m standing right now.

Someone I know who read Marta’s book asked me afterward if I thought Gurumayi was a charlatan. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to answer.

Someone else I shared that same question with replied: “She’s not a charlatan, she’s a human.”

I met Gurumayi for the first time in 1989 and something big changed in my life. It was quite a ride. One I don’t regret. Twenty years later here I am. My understanding feels more complete now. More real.

Baba once said “The practices of Siddha Yoga belong to you” and I always felt that was right – in spite of all the hoopla, insanity, dysfunction and corruption, it has been important for me to remember that things like Om Namah Shivaya predate degrees in marketing, trademarks, PR campaigns, satellite programming, and perhaps, even the existence of sexual abuse.

Thankfully, as it turns out, the practices of Siddha Yoga don’t belong to SYDA. Now that truly would have been tragic.

- Lucid

Anonymous said...

and finally, from a post last month at salon:

the perfect relationship? (an epilogue)

I had a fantasy once about Gurumayi coming forward after Baba’s death and sharing the truth. Sharing the spiritual crisis and devastation she faced when her own guru – the man she’d been led to believe was God since childhood, the man into whose arms she’d been thrust by her parents – had abused her and enlisted her help to abuse others. I imagined her coming to us with the parts of herself that were broken, admitting the rage she felt towards her parents, all of it. And I imagined how my heart would have gone out to her, how I would have done anything to help her, to help all of us pick up the pieces as a spiritual community and move forward. I imagined the kind of unbreakable bond between the guru and her devotees that experience would have formed.

In a fantasy anything is possible.

- Lucid

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