Ananda members talk, March & April, 1996: Part 13

A Spiritual Process for Spiritual People

March 20, 296 Dwapara [1996]

Dear D…,

Your letter to us all was amazing! Just who do you think you are talking to? Stupid people? People who are unable to think for themselves? The known facts about Swami, these women’s declarations, and what Swami has produced over all his years of discipleship, through Ananda and all of us, are here for all to behold. They are called “the fruits.” Ananda and Swami are an incredible group of sincerely dedicated disciples of a great master. I have been continually amazed at my good fortune over these past 24 years that I had enough good karma to end up here. And the reason I have been continually amazed is that I have continued to think and to always be aware of what was going on around me. You imply that the people who have decided that there is indeed nothing wrong at Ananda and with Swami are simply fooling themselves. Don’t you realize by now that it takes incredible energy, discrimination, and constant deepening awareness even to stay on this path! But perhaps you don’t, as I don’t see it reflected in your letter.

You seem to have swallowed hook, line, and sinker what the Bertolucci anti-cult lawyers and Sundaram have wanted you to—that Swami is abusive sexually and disdaining of women and that the rest of us are dupes in his game. Do you really believe that we will fall for that one!? You state in your letter, “All of us would prefer that Swami did not have this type of unwellness, and some of us prefer to believe that he does not.” D…, it is not that we prefer to believe that Swami is well, it is that we know that he is well. We know it from our own experience of him, and not from what some anti-cult lawyers and disaffected Ananda members keep trying to convince us of. And believe me they are trying very hard to do just that. Someone wrote to me personally just recently that, “Swami’s activity with women would not be an issue now if it had been addressed years ago when it came up.” But it never did come up then, because it simply was not an issue. Let us all keep in mind that only a year and four months ago was it discovered that Swami and Ananda had this terrible problem of sexual abuse and cover-up— after SRF had lost virtually all the issues in their suit against Ananda. I say “keep in mind” because this is something that the Bertolucci lawyers and others are trying very hard to get us to forget.

I guess I am also amazed, D…, at your willingness to make such definite and accusatory statements about things of which you have no first hand knowledge. You state, “My key question is; is it tolerable that a person who took a spiritual vow of celibacy, who has initiated abusive sexual encounters with women over the years, and who has tried to hide this fact be the spiritual leader of a group dedicated to following the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda?” Were you at the satsangs with Swami in June and September of 1995 when he spoke to these issues specifically? And, if so, how can you still be asking these same questions? Either you are not familiar with what Swami stated at that time, or you are simply calling him a liar. I can only assume that it has to be one of the two at this point. Really what we all have before us is the women who have declared sexual abuse in their declarations and Swami’s statements to us in the community satsangs of June 29, 1995 and especially of September 24, 1995 about himself and what he has done in his life sexually. You, D…, as you have stated in your letter, have decided from this information that Swami is unwell and that you can no longer tolerate how he has lived his life. I, from that same information, have realized that Swami is even more of a spiritual hero than I ever imagined. He has had the courage to live his life completely guided from a higher consciousness and without thought for what the world might think of him-or do to him. He has not been afraid to relate to people where they are and to try to draw them up from there. He has had the courage to live his convictions and to take the vows that were appropriate to those convictions. This is the way that we are able to grow spiritually— taking one step at a time until we finally arrive at the goal and at perfection.

I would also like to speak here to those of you who feel the there has been no “process” here at Ananda for discussing the issues that D… brought up in his letter. The process in a spiritual village has to be a spiritual one, not a worldly one. And from what 1 can see and feel from this recent flood of letters in response to DS&Mac255;’s, is that that process is alive and well. Because some of you think that this process should involve group discussions and hashing out of things on an outward level, you perceive that it has not happened at all. This reminds me of the drunk walking into Hollywood church and asking if the people meditating there were asleep. No, we are not asleep here at Ananda. We are awake and ready! But the process for arriving at the place of “feeling right in your heart” will never come through outward discussion. It will only come from going inside and in deep meditation and prayer, with calm feeling in the heart, coming to an inner knowing of what is right and true. Swami has bared his soul to us in those community satsangs. I feel he has shared with us far more of his personal life than we even deserve to know. What more do you want?

The other thing I would like to mention along with this is the use by some of you here of terms that I do not remember being used at Ananda until the last few years. I am speaking of the “naming, blaming, shunning, labeling, shaming” terms that I hear in D…’s letter and in some others. These are terms of psychology and the world that, from what I feel inwardly, have no place on the spiritual path. Why? Quite simply because this kind of thinking will not help you to grow spiritually. It leads to thinking that your adversary is outside yourself which, spiritually speaking, is death to the devotee. There has been a desire and a hope by some to include this in the spiritual process here at Ananda. I say, there is no place for this kind of thinking on a path of Self-realization. Karen White put it very well in her letter, stated in her own unique way, when she said, “if you’re not willing to be shamed, blamed, labeled, shunned or lose your job in support of your spiritual principles, you might as well crawl into a hole and die.” This is the spirit on which Ananda and any true path is founded.

This world is the “magic shadow show” as Omar Khayyam so beautifully put it. Those who are able to perceive the truth behind it win, spiritually speaking. And those who aren’t are forever caught in the show itself. I think, D… that you need to consider all of this seriously and to decide for yourself if this is really the place for you. Because what I feel you have stated in your letter is more than “loyal doubting”, as you would like us to believe. You have stated that Swami is abusive, dysfunctional, and, in so many words, a liar. To stay on as a part of a “loyal opposition” is to be kidding yourself. You have already said in your letter that you cannot tolerate Swami as he is. So what would be your next step? This is surely more than “loyal opposition”, and you need to be clear and honest with yourself about that. This is a very serious point in your spiritual life. I also want to suggest that you not try to include in your personal decision on this matter the “many others” who you keep referring to in your letter. Each one will have to come to his or her own decision about these things. It is not a group decision. But, as Asha stated simply, Ananda is loyal to Swami, and that will not be changing. If you wish to stay on here, you will need to attune yourself to the expression of Master’s ray, through Swami as the spiritual director. If you do not wish to do that, then you will need to move on. Also if you think about it even a little, you will come to realize that the idea of “loyal opposition” has no valid place on a spiritual path that holds as one of its prime tenets the ideal of attunement.

In divine friendship,

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