PERSONAL REFLECTIONS OF A DOUBTING DEVOTEE (2)
Second of a series of three postings (1, 2, 3) by Reidun Priddy, former founder member of the Sai Org. in Oslo, Norway in 1983 and active worker until 1999.
By: Robert Priddy's wife Reidun
Website: Sathya Sai Baba - Extensive information and Viewpoints
Personal Reflections - No. 2 - On how to relate to an enigma
Second of a series of three postings by Reidun Priddy, former founder member of the Sai Org. in Oslo, Norway in 1983 and active worker until 1999.
What can we do? There is always one thing we can do: we can be truthful, to ourselves to start with. One of Sai Baba's main sayings which has been emphasized is: "My life is my message." (Apparently, this was actually Mahatma Gandhi's saying about his life.) The meaning is simple: his life is an example to all of us of how we should live our lives. So what do we do when his behaviour is not only unacceptable but criminal and harmful to others, especially minors? Desperately looking for explanations it is easy to be confused about what is divine and what is human. He says he is the avatar, the divine in human form fully aware of his divinity as opposed to us who are not aware of our divine inner nature. Being unaware humans we make mistakes, or do the wrong things, or act selfishly, etc. But he who says he knows he is God and is completely pure without a shred of selfishness, should not make the mistakes of the unaware human. So either he is not the divine, fully aware avatar, or his sexual abuse of devotees and children of devotees are neither sexual nor abusive even though that's how they are experienced.
To me this is the crux of the matter: can there be a deep mystery to these acts which is beyond our understanding, which Baba does not want to explain? Is it really likely that he would need to act in such a physical manner and cause offence and hurt all round in order to achieve whatever it might be, if he were almighty? Why would he choose such a manner of acting if truth, goodness and beauty is what he wants to show us in this Kali Yuga? Sexual abuse is found all over the place in this day and age, so why remind us of it in the very place we thought was the one certain sanctuary of purity in the whole world.
There are aspects of SSB's behaviour which I tolerated and accepted because I saw them in the soft light of devotion. Seen in a harsher and clearer light those things appear differently: for example, lack of accordance between his words (teachings) and actions, and words said at one time contradicting those said at another time. Also, ever since the first time I went to the ashram, I have had to work hard at separating Sai Baba, the supposed all-powerful avatar, from the way his ashrams function and the way his organisation is run, even though I never felt quite comfortable doing it. I could never see the connection between the pomp and circumstance, the artificial tinsel and glitter, and the true, spiritual life. Nor have I ever been in personal contact with so many arrogant, self-important and pompous people and such organised vip-ism as in SSB's ashrams. It has simply been shocking to me at times. Why would the avatar uphold empty norms and false values that are contrary to true spirituality? Shouldn't he rather be showing up the emptiness of those things compared to the true values, rather than go on with an increasing amount of pomp and show through all the years on the grounds that he is not doing it for himself, but just fulfilling the wishes and expectations of devotees? There are plenty of devotees who do not wish for those things at all, quite the contrary, in fact. Why does he not fulfill their wishes instead?