Thursday, December 25, 2014

Introduction


Thirty-four years ago, I became a disciple of the late Sri Chinmoy. My discipleship lasted nine years and they were some of the best years of my life and, without a doubt, the most significant.

This memoir is about that journey and the enduring effects it had on me as a man.

It's also about a number of troubling revelations of sexual misconduct by Sri Chinmoy, which have been made by an increasing number of his female disciples, and how those revelations have affected my understanding of my guru.

It's not all doom and gloom, and I'd argue none of it is. I've met some truly unique and special individuals during the course of my spiritual development. I hope to introduce you to some of them.

Most importantly, I want to give you a glimpse of my experience. I hope it will inspire other current and former disciples to write their own memoirs.

Together, I'd like to think that someday our collective stories will make up a mosaic that will give future seekers a complete and diverse picture of what it was actually like to be a disciple of Sri Chinmoy.

Below, you'll find a table of contents or you can always use the links on the left.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Yogaloy

Please don't hesitate to write me with questions, comments, criticisms or corrections at yogaloy@yahoo.com. I'd love to hear from you all.

21 comments:

JEEVAN said...

PLEASE WRITE A BOOK !!!!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Y. said...

Thanks for reading and for your very kind comment.

There's a reason my older articles aren't as interesting as my newer one: they're about me!!

clare said...

Hi Yogaloy
Please could you tell me if there have been any posts recently - November appears to be the last. Have you taken a break or am I having problems??
I find the analysis and thoughts fascinating so I hope you keep going.

Y. said...

Hi Clare,

Thank you. You're not having problems, I just think I've come to an end.

My vision has always been to have the blog just be a memoir about my time in the Sri Chinmoy Center. For that reason, I always assumed it must end.

The latest revelations, however, I thought needed to be addressed and also gave me an opportunity to discuss a whole host of other topics that I felt interesting (and I'm glad you seem to agree).

That said, I wanted some finality. I didn't want the blog to drift too far from the original memoir I envisioned. I am casting about for ideas of what to do next and another more day-to-day blog on spiritual issues is a possibility, but I haven't been inspired yet.

In the meantime, if you -- or anyone else -- is on Facebook, then I'd encourage you to "become a fan" of the Abode of Yoga on Facebook, where I am attempting to keep some of the interesting discussion alive.

Check it out!

(Also, Clare, you're always welcome to email me directly anytime and we can chat in private.)

Thanks again for the kind comments.

clare said...

Thanks Yogaloy for your pronto reply. Ooh, Facebook eh? Maybe you've just tempted me (I've been trying to avoid). I have appreciated your honesty and approach and feel this has been the keystone to the interesting dialogue and personal expression that has emerged. The unravelling of minds on these interesting topics has been an enjoyable and thought provoking read.
I look forward to the day when you are hit by that bolt of inspiration (in hardback, maybe) but perhaps there is no need to search too deeply - what's evolved works for me!
Take care,
Clare

Anonymous said...

yes, I'd been wondering what happened to your blog as well - all of a sudden it just stopped. Now I see the discussion is ongoing on Facebook - wonderful!

Katie said...

Y,
I very much enjoy reading the information in your blog.
I haven't read it all, but WOW! you have a lot there!
You should have it made into a book. It really is quite good.

Katie

Y. said...

Thank you, Katie! And thanks for taking the time to check the blog out. I appreciate that very much.

Yogaloy

Anonymous said...

Yogaloy,
Do you know what Scriptures say? A disciple should cut off the head of anyone who speaks ill of his guru!
$-))

Y. said...

Well, we could all do with less scripture and more thinking.

Anonymous said...

Was reading Al-Ghazali today. He studied juridical writings and then the materialist philosophers of his time. At the end of this study, he realized that the mind was inadequate to know/understand the immensity of the divine.

His study of sufism broke down the dialectic between practice and thinking that he came to understanding that he was eventually able to reintegrate into his life. It does seem that the path was a way to become open to spiritual experience that seem effortless, and yes, I'd agree they are given through the grace of God via the Guru (although it also seems clear that you had a psychic disposition to spirituality, as your biography shows). And an enviable gift!

As you know from your study of Aurobindo, the experiences vanish probably because the vitality and the mind are unable to assimilate them.
Then one enters a sort of limbo between two states, because the world is completely inadequate after having felt the intoxicating love of the inner flame.

Your experience of the inner flame is clearly quite special, but it seems like the mind, and vital needed to reorganize themselves around the heart. That requires tapas, I guess.

In the end, you seem to have returned to some rationalist approach. Why don't you simply do the practice that was given to you, rather than write about claims made against the Guru? If what you felt was real enough, why go through the laundry? Why deal with mental black magic, your own, or someone else's?

I also left the path for similar reasons, at a similar age, but I don't concern myself with the laundry. Is that pretentious of me, or is it simply that I cherish what was given? Why do I need to know what he did, or didn't do? Why does anyone?

What's the point of all this? If you believe the allegations than provide solid proof. How do you reconcile your devotional knowledge (which you have in abundance) with these allegations? It all seems contradictory.

This whole blog is contradictory, confused, even though it seems lucid. You seem sincere, but really lost in your mind. Yes, there were allegations. I've read them and they don't seem true.

Maybe it's different for some of us who were not in the 'inner circle.' That's the other thing I think you skew: Guru has loads of writings where he states that those that sit as his feet are often farthest from him, and those in Timbuku are closest.

You need more rigor in your analysis, more facts.
More meat. Your own story is deeply inspiring, the rest is suspect.


Asher

Y. said...

Asher,

Thanks for taking the time to read and for the kind (albeit backhanded) comments.

Let me respond, however, to the criticism. First, let me address your apparent prejudice against mental inquiry (at least beyond a certain point). Second, your disbelief of the allegations made by others against Guru.

As to the mind, I detect in your writing the old Center prejudice. It's clear from your comment that you are an educated and articulate person. Nevertheless, lines like "You seem sincere [implying I'm not really], but really lost in your mind" belie that certain contempt for rational thought perpetuated by Guru.

I categorically reject this notion because it rests on the premise of dualism, which assumes that there is the divine -- the spiritual -- and then there is the mind, vital and body forever condemned to some inferior status.

In words, people who hold this view will admit to some state of an "illumined" mind or, as you imply by suggesting my mind and vital need to "reorganize themselves around the heart," a surrendered mind. But this second rate status smacks of the old "separate but equal" fallacy.

I don't hold this view. To me, "all life is Yoga," not just some of it. Rational thought is the lynch pin of any spiritual practice that aims to produce a being capable of not only functioning but mastering the world. (Of course, if one's view is to extinguish oneself in trance, the human psyche if of no concern, but that's not my goal.)

It is no surprise, therefore, that people who hold the mind in contempt or who, like you, embrace the mind but only up to a point, have so much difficulty addressing issues when they bump up against core beliefs. Perhaps the quickest way to make this point clear is to posit a hypothetical question and ask you to address it.

Suppose I had a high quality video clip showing Guru having sex with a female disciple. Suppose also, that its authenticity is not in question. Here's the question: Would you watch it?

I've asked this question of a number of people who hold your view, which view I'd call the "ostrich" view or the stick-your-head-in-the-sand view. They never answer it. And I don't ask it to make you or anyone else uncomfortable. I ask because it tests whether or not you are devoted to the truth. I'm not asking you to admit Guru actually engaged in wrongdoing. No, instead I'm asking whether you're interested in evidence-based reality.

It's startling to me that any disciple could ask the questions you pose to me: "Why do I need to know what [Guru] did, or didn't do? Why does anyone?"

Really? Are you a truth seeker? Or do you just pretend to be one?

To me it's critical to know to know whether Guru was having sex with his spiritual daughters. You say you don't believe the allegations and are seemingly uninterested in knowing. That's your prerogative

In the end, I have no need and no interest in sacrificing the truth on the alter of some pleasant memories from the past. As I've written about many times on this blog, I don't know what happened between Guru and the women accusing him of wrongdoing. But I now deem their allegations credible as I've explained on the blog.

I think the burden is now on you to explain -- to articulate -- why you don't find the allegations credible.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yogaley,

I appreciate your blog. Let me just say I have not seen conclusive evidence to suggest the allegations you and others put forward. I am open to discussing the possibility of them. I don't belong to the Sri Chinmoy group, as you know, nor do I communicate with old disciples. I have told you why I left, and I have no 'old center' mentality -- not even sure what you mean by that. You can't be sure, for instance, that disciples on the path are not also critically inquiring these rather old allegations and doing what you yourself propose (or if I am reading your reawakening correctly)

As I said, your spiritual experiences in the context of Sri Chinmoy, even your 'reawakening' seemingly contradicts the allegations. How can someone who awakened this level of aspiration in, and then seemingly reawakened it (albeit in a more formless way), be what? a hostile force (as the other members say), what is he to you? How could you even entertain the idea he is divine if he also was having sex with other disciples? It seems to me that contradiction can't be rationalized, and that's what it seems you are trying to do, particularly in your reawakening experience where you attempt to sublimate the allegations through some of rationalization based on your reawakening.

So all I say is why do you need to talk about these issues, if the need for Sri Chinmoy dissipated more and more with your reawakening. What's the point with talking about Sri Chinmoy? Why does he still linger if all that was left was gratitude? Why dig this shit up, if you have seemingly moved beyond it? Moved beyond Sri Chinmoy? Or have you not?

If you had a clip of Sri Chinmoy having sex with female disciples, of course I'd look at it.

If you have conclusive proof (i.e. a clip), bring it on.


Asher

Anonymous said...

I've been mulling this over. I don't really want to get involved in conversations at your blog, not because I have friends in center, not for petty reasons like that, simply because I don't have time. There are allegations, and of course I've talked to people about them, attempted to learn about them (not sure why that makes me a 'seeker,' but whatever...). If you feel like talking more about the inner journey, that's fine. If there is conclusive evidence, please do bring it on. Yeah, yeah, I know it would take millions of dollars. I've heard all the arguments, read some of Rudra's malicious posts when I felt pissed off at Guru. Some of the stories I read seemed like trashy stories from would-be writers. They read like they were fabricated, bits and pieces cut and paste together with no convincing sense of narrative continuity. Some other stories seemed more convincing. Are there photographs that prove the allegations? If so, please do post. I read a few others that were written, links from you blog, but they don't convince me. It's not because I'm some die-hard disciple at heart. It's just that they contradict my experience on the path. Utterly so. And if one were to rationalize this as tantric (a pretty dangerous explanation, since we were taught a path that was quite different than tantra...), that would be completely off the mark. The fact is I don't think I'd be able to rationalize the allegations with my own inner experiences with Sri Chinmoy both on and off the path. And I'm not entirely convinced at some of the arguments you make about Guru weaning disciples off the path. They contradict his written teachings. Now if you had some experience that was unique to yourself, fine. But I think it's dangerous to try to universalize his path with other reference to his teachings and sure inner experiences (we lack this in dialogue and that's why I'm so grateful to read your work. You write so brilliantly about your time on the path).

And I'm not living in some fixed, moralistic, quasi fundamentalist, or deluded mindset; I'm not some ethereal piece of shit floating on cloud nine singing hiya paki. Sorry, bad joke. All I want to know is how you can even try to reconcile these two utterly divergent views of Sri Chinmoy as the man who definitely had a 'transformative' effect on you, and this other Sri Chinmoy who is a veritable monster? Perhaps you can post something on your blog, and there is no more need for discussion. You speak about unconditional surrender? Is that your state now? Have you unconditionally surrendered despite the allegations? Do you feel an intensification of the inner flame when you meditate on Sri Chinmoy's picture? I think it's these more interesting discussions that are what is needed. Discussions that have some basis in experience, because that's all I have to go by.

Asher

Y. said...

Asher,

Just a couple of points.

I have no proof. As I've written, for those that care, we must make a credibility judgment -- either you believe the people making the allegations or you don't. My experience leads me to believe these women are telling the truth.

To your last paragraph, I realize you are neither rigid and moralistic nor deluded and fundamentalist. To the extent I might have suggested otherwise (in my tone if not my words), I apologize.

Am I unconditionally surrendered? Absolutely not! Nor do I have any interest in being so. I find the very idea of surrender distasteful these days. I would say, however, that I'm striving to be non-judgmental and open minded and I do try to accept people unconditionally. I think that's what makes it easier for me to accept the idea that Guru had sex with his disciples, because I have no spiritual or emotional need for Guru to be anything other than who he actually was in fact.

If he was having sex with his spiritual daughters, then I can accept that. I don't like it. It's horrible. But I can accept that as a fact and try to learn from it.

I haven't meditated on Guru's picture since 1997 or so. Nor do I have any formal meditation practice. This is by choice. I agree with you that it's best to anchor our opinions in experience, and in my experience, setting aside a special time and place to meditate accentuate a feeling of the duality enforced by the Center (e.g., "inner and outer," "divine and undivine"), which I'm hyper-allergic to now.

Peace.

Eric said...

weaning (... off the path)

Well, I've just learned a new word in English - weaning, never heard of it before, and an original usage of it on the top. Thnx :)

On the stirring side, dear Y., thnx again for the stirring blog.

And...If the allegations true, I am about to blame my ex-sisters as Guru's acomplices in luring me to the Path.

Our lives are so intertwin.g.ed now, after all those beautiful years of naivete in the Centre; with so many rooted but once odd habits, now dear to me; with so many brothers and sisters, all fine and so impecable persons and a couple of life-providing businesess... I am so so so twinged :(

Sorry, I am hurting those ex-sisters of mine. I hope it's not so deep nor permanent. I do not want to really hurt them, nor anyone. I am expressing my frustration in want for stupid reward. But reward for what? So little damage, so much of a twinge.

Eric Twinge, a banana-person in split.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yogalay,

I just want to make a public apology for anything silly I said about Sri Chinmoy. Whatever I said that was negative was only my own issue, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Sri Chinmoy. It was arrogant, stupid, and I regret it. I know many readers will probably just consider me another followers of a cult, but what I felt around Sri Chinmoy during my short period of 8 years was always sublime, utterly pure, and I simply can't reconcile these experiences (and my recent excavation of my period on his path) and the allegations have been put forward. In fact, I feel deep remorse for whatever I expressed.

I've gone over this for a month now, after having a bit of spare time during Ramadan. I have read all the allegations , had a lot of spiritual experiences that related to Sri Chinmoy (no, he had no hold on me. He is completely benign, and I still consider him a Prophet).

Admittedly, his path was not for me, but I respect those who follow it, and I deeply respect him as a spiritual master. I always will and I deeply miss him. And whatever I said about angels was simply my own ignorance and arrogance. I know what Sri Chinmoy has done for me and does for me, and I know what was transmitted when he died. I know what he taught me, and no, I don't give all power to him, I don't believe anyone can be God, but he is one who really baffles all my senses and expectations....

No one has brainwashed me, I don't talk to disciples. I just follow my intuition and I know I left because in part I was not pure enough to follow his path. Thanks for letting me express this on your blog, and I wish you the best on your journey.

You seem like a really special person and I appreciate discussing this with you and others...

Yours Sincerely,

Asher

Anonymous said...

I have recently been to both Oneness fountain heart and Annam Brahma. After seeing the disciples in saris and listening to the music at Annam Brahma, I was curious about Sri Chinmoy and wanted to learn more about him. So I googled and came across your your blog along with other posts on Yahoo. Once I started reading your blog, I couldn't stop until the end because your experiences are very rich and inspiring. As Jeevan wrote in his comment, you really should write a book. I would definitely buy it and read it.

I do have a silly question though. Do the tips customers leave at Annam Brahma go to the waiters? I left a 25% tip when I was there recently..not because the food was over the top but I was so impressed by the women working there wearing saris. I thought these women were blessed to have found a spiritual path that they believe in and very brave to leave everything behind and do seva.

Y. said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I agree with you 100% about the women working at Annam Brahma. They are an impressive group, as are most of the devoted disciples in the Sri Chinmoy Center. I think it's very easy to criticize members of these "high intensity religious groups," but if nothing else, they live their convictions. They don't just pay lip service to their spiritual ideals.

For a period of a few years, I washed dishes there on Wednesday nights as a form of service. I used to marvel at one particularly self-effacing waitress there, who if memory serves was named Kalanadi. Her humility was only matched by her work ethic -- she was a true work horse. Sometime later I found out she holds a Ph.D.

Anyway, to your question. My answer is: I think so, but am not sure. I worked at Annam Brahma's counterpart, The Smile of the Beyond. There, we split the tips. During my time there ('85-'89), we were paid weekly in cash and as I recall the tips were split daily. (Though, I must say, the tips weren't that good.)

I do clearly remember at that time that Annam Brahma workers were paid less than the Smile workers. It was the source of some tension. Not sure about how they treated tips. It would be sad, but I wouldn't be surprised, to hear that the waitresses didn't get them.

I should also point out that a lot has changed in the years since Sri Chinmoy passed away, including a couple of wage and hour lawsuits at the Center restaurant in San Francisco (Ananda Fuara). I would expect the New York restaurants probably now are in compliance with whatever NY law provides.

So, keep eating and keep tipping!

Anonymous said...

I'M EXHAUSTED BY ALL THE READING AND ALSO GRATEFUL FOR THE time, effort and searching you have done.

I was in for 20 years, the last ones in Norcal.

You seem to have taken a stance that jibes with mine.

I had too many profound experiences and also healings(twice instantaneous - of depression and plantar fasciitus- sp?) to deny the spiritual power he had and the gifts of his teaching.

I also spoke with one of the women who posted here and I have no doubt of the truth of what she wrote and said.

Thank you for being able to hold both - the horror of his actions with the "children" in particular, and the sublime teaching mentoring he offered.

Thanks for sharing your journey and for the interviews you're now doing. A friend gave me the link to hers which connected me to this site.

With gratitude...