Sai's behavior and teachings as a straitjacket
preventing spiritual and
From: Åsa Samsioe
When I first read about SSB, it was his teachings that drew me to him and
seduced me to put my faith in him.
It was also the first time that I really learned about Indian religion and
philosophy. And SSB's
teachings were in an easily digested form, easy to masticate and easy to
understand, even for an uninitiated Westerner. But the more I read, the more I
learned, the more I felt awkward about his teachings.
Firstly there are all those contradictions of his and also all those lies.
In their endeavour to defend their guru, SSB's
devotees try to explain those contradictions. It is said that his teachings have
to be adjusted to all the devotees'
different spiritual levels. I would have seen the point in this argument if SSB
was teaching his devotees on an individual basis. But he isn't.
Most of his devotees get his teachings on a collectivistic basis. Where is the
point then for one and the same devotee to hear one thing at one occasion and
the opposite thing at the next occasion? And what are his devotees supposed to
believe according to all those lies that they are fed with?
“People may think that Swami is having a number of servants to do his work. I
do not need anybody to serve Me; I do not expect any service from others."
(This is just one example
of an obvious lie! Every devotee has seen with his/her own eyes and also read
about how SSB constantly gets and demands personal service from his devotees!
Even his humble devotee Smt Vijaya Kumari writes that the slightest oversight
with regard to arrangements for his meals would provoke SSB into a fit of
anger.) Surely no one believes that SSB makes his own meals, does his own
laundry, shops for anything, services his own cars or dozens of other tasks
anyone else must carry out?
my childhood I have been respecting everybody. Today the whole world is
SSB says. (Sanathana Sarathi Sept. 2003, p 267)
Still more lies, exaggerations and rough generalizations....Certainly all those
sexually abused boys don´t feel that SSB has given them their respect. And the
whole world doesn't
respect him! What a shameless statement! Actually there is today a growing crowd
of people who don´t respect him at all. But the majority of the people in the
world have not even heard about him....
there are all those banal platitudes of his like “help ever hurt never”
and the like, which are relevant only in their correct context.
There are also all those moralistic and oversimplified statements, that are
hardly applicable to a complicated reality. To feel angry is for example a very
nasty thing in SSB's
world. Certainly it is important for all human beings to come to terms with
their anger, especially in our troubled world of today.
SSB also teaches his devotees various ways to control their anger, some of them
more or less strange:
“The easiest way to control anger is this. The moment you become aware that
anger is rising within you, just laugh very loudly. Or go to the bathroom and
have a cool bath. You can also take a glass of cool water and relax in a cool
place. The moment anger comes it is most helpful to leave the place where you
are and go somewhere else. If with all these measures you still have not been
able to control your anger, then stand in front of a mirror and examine your
face. After seeing your appearance you will surely feel so much disgust that at
once you will be able to control your anger.” (Sai Baba Gita, IX, p 90
But it´s not enough for SSB if his devotees control their angry actions. He also
wants them to suppress their angry feelings:
“Once anger enters your heart, all other wicked qualities will follow” he
says (Sanathana Sarathi - Sept. 2003, p 281).
not permit even the least room in your heart for such bad traits. Once you let
anger in, it will be impossible to get rid of it.” (Sai Baba Gita, X p 96
moment of anger takes away our strength which we gather by eating good food for
three months. Anger not only debilitates us and takes away the merit of our good
deeds, but also enfeebles our condition.” (Whitefield, May 1972 Published by
Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust)
Everybody with just a little knowledge of psychology knows that this is an
exaggeration. In the context of such a moralistic and person-controlling
movement that surrounds SSB, this can and does all to easily lead to the
suppression of many feelings of anger –
including naturally justified and righteous ones, such as when one discovers
sexual abuse is taking place or when one has been radically deceived. This hardly leads to mental health. The important thing is not to suppress all
aggressive feelings; but to examine and control them. If you are not even
allowed to feel them, then you will probably sooner or later get sick either
mentally or physically.
Many of those who have committed the most irrational and horrible crimes, are
those who have suppressed their emotions for long periods. At last when the
suppression doesn´t work any more their emotions burst into violent acts.
suppress – rather than learn to control and constructively channel - your
emotions, you certainly run the risk of being a zombie without responsibility
and real compassion for your fellow-beings.
To try to
censor ones feelings before feeling and investigating them (before letting them
rule your behaviour) is a recipe for emotional confusion and can often lead to
mental instability. Besides,
people who have not lost contact with their own emotions, which also would
normally include a wide range of feelings from love to aggression, are usually
filled with the joy of living and with a creative power. Why does SSB want to
deprive them of that? How is it at all possible for those who are not allowed to
feel their own emotions to get emotional and spiritual development?
Jack Kornfield has a considerable more mature approach to the problem of anger,
than has SSB.
He writes in
his book “A Path with Heart” (p 91):
“Many of us have
been conditioned to hate our anger. As we try to observe it, we will find a
tendency to judge and suppress it, to get rid of it, because it is “bad” and
painful, or shameful and “unspiritual”.
We must be
very careful to bring an open mind and heart to our practice, and let ourselves
feel fully, even if it means touching the deepest wells of grief, sorrow, and
rage within us. These forces move our lives, and we must feel them in order to
come to terms with them. Meditation is not a process of getting rid of
something, but one of opening and understanding. When we work with anger in
meditation, it can be very strong. Initially, we may sense just a little anger,
but for those who have learned to suppress it and hold it back, anger will then
transform into rage..... When the demons become unmasked, you may feel you are
going mad or doing something wrong, but in fact you have finally begun to face
the forces that keep you from living in a loving and fully conscious way.”
Thirdly we have the inconsistency
teachings and his own behavior. Even if you chose to shut your eyes to the
sexual molestations, the lies and the faked materializations, you just need to
take a close look at SSB himself to realize the truth. Actually it ought to be enough to
see his grim and uninterested face and to make a retrospective calculation of
how many times he has talked about “My boys” compared with those times he talked
about “My girls”. You would soon realize that it´s not love that SSB radiates
and that his interest in his devotees'
spiritual development is just a question of gender.
What are SSB's
devotees then supposed to learn? Are they supposed to learn that their teacher
is rather confused and forgets from one occasion to another what
he has said?
Are they supposed to learn that the things that their guru teaches don't
make an integrated whole but are only fragmentary parts?
Are they supposed to notice
that SSB has stolen some quotations here and some quotations there from Indian
masters like Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Gandhi etc....
Are they supposed to learn that
SSB´s own teachings with their platitudes, oversimplifications and parrot-like
repetitions probably are just the reflection of his incomplete education and his
occasional state of mind? Are they supposed to notice that the teachers' grim
face and eyes stand in stark contrast to his declaration that he is the
embodiment of love?
Of course not! That would be an
awful blasphemy against their Swami-God!
What are they
then supposed to learn? Above all they have to learn never to put the blame on
SSB as he is infallible. The only remaining alternative is then to take the
blame onto them. That means that the more SSB´s devotees learn and experience
things that they are not supposed to learn and experience, the more they have to
blame themselves. They have to realize that it is not SSB who is the confused
one. They are themselves confused because they use their head too
much on the expense of their heart!
And it is not
SSB who radiates lovelessness; it's
their own inability to draw the Lord´s love to themselves. They are indeed full
of rust and dust and they don´t understand a thing of the wisdom of their Lord.
Besides there must certainly be something wrong with their senses and with their
perceptions to... but anyway these just reflect their own defect, loveless and
confused inner being.
Actually those devotees are "worse
than beasts", as SSB frequently says of some people!
may wonder with SSB how such people can be
called human beings and how any spiritual development at all is possible for
those poor souls....
But what about those ideal devotees who have not learned or experienced things
that they are not supposed to learn or experience?
Those devotees have closed and locked their heads and are just thinking with
their hearts. They have been successful surrendering there everything to their
Swami.... But sorry to say in this process they also lost their sense of
Certainly SSB encourages them to use discrimination, but only with his own
definition of the word. He actually teaches them to strive to discard their
judgment of all things, except to distinguish between what he lays down as being
‘divine’ and all else, which is only ‘wordly’ and to be considered valueless.
realize that there is an inherent antagonism between total surrender and the
sense of genuine discrimination. You can´t have your cake and eat it! And
how is it possible for people who have lost their sense of discrimination and
have discarded their judgment to get any spiritual development at all?
It has been said that people who are stuck to a doctrine (like SSB´s
devotees are) are like houses without windows.
How is it
possible for a person “without windows” to get spiritual realization?