"Conflicting division...in Yogaville"  

February 5, 2004
The observations of one Yogaville visitor

A conflicting division has existed for a long time in Yogaville and has repeatedly expressed itself through personalities that choose to remain there. Those who have sensed the unsettling truth of the dilemma have either left the community or have retreated to relatively safe, wholesome and autonomous areas away from the ashram grounds and are reported to be "waiting in the wings."

Physical/mental/emotional/spiritual sickness, financial pressures, decay and rifts within married and intimate relationships, confusion, animosity, unyielding politics and malicious gossip. These are just some of the observable symptoms of a pervasive negative pattern within the Yogaville community which has prevented and continues to thwart a feeling of fellowship, community-spirit or harmony.

Infesting Yogaville throughout, there exists unequivocally, an intelligently-directed, life-force-consuming phenomenon which is given license to and perpetuated by the egomaniacal and often desperately-attached personal motives of individuals who have chosen, albeit blindly, to allow this darkness into their lives.

Anything of the light is constantly repressed as the evil works through those who are single-mindedly focussed upon their own desires/needs and who are thus blinded to the truth of the expanding inimical situation in their lives. They are unable to discern the signs and clues that lie all around, recognition of which would surely help to heal the growing, belligerent schism within them and the community.

True illumination is substituted for the resident 'guru', Swami Satchidananda's (SS) often-tacit edict that the problem is due to each person's karma and that everyone has to go through it.

Buddha said that he who perseveres in his sincere search for truth would find it and it shall enlighten him.

It is true; the vast majorities of SS's spoken words have factual substance and are unquestionably correct. However, whatever his words may convey outwardly can be easily nullified and even reversed very effectively with those who are helplessly and hopelessly surrendered to "the Master."

Even though SS has said before that dependency upon the guru is not the way, it is by his acceptance of the continuation of that very submission that he has always maintained an implicit encouragement of guru-worship (not God-worship) at Yogaville and so the unhealthy subservience is endured.

Faith may be used as a power in itself which, like a vacuum, draws all surrounding forces into itself, and thus endows the person with which it is connected with the forces towards which it tends.

Religious leaders depend as much on the faith of their adherents as their adherents depend on the initial inspiration, which they receive from their leaders. Once this mutual process has started, it grows like an avalanche.

The combined forces of those whose faith is directed towards a religious leader make him a center of forces which go far beyond those of his own person or separate individuality. It is for this reason that we should not expect religious leaders taken out of their surroundings to display the same super-individual forces, which centered upon them before they were deprived of the contact of those who had faith in them.

What we call miraculous is nothing but a short cut in the interaction of natural forces. That is, a direct action from mind to mind, without the usual roundabout way via the senses and material agents. Faith merely acts as a conductor, which makes the short cut possible. Just as electricity - which is potentially present everywhere - becomes effective only in the presence of a conductor, so spiritual power becomes effective only in the presence of faith, be it faith in a divine power, or a human guru, or faith in an ideal or in one's own inner reality.

The reference to faith in the previous paragraphs is equally applicable to blind faith; the conductor is the same.

When I first visited Yogaville one year ago, I was astonished to note that despair and deprivation seemed to be two of the common maladies affecting the personalities of most, if not all, of SS's ardent followers.

It is not difficult to see how the incessant pining and dependency of so many upon one man could place a major drain on him. It would not be unreasonable to infer that the circuit of faith discussed in this case may have been a co-dependent one.

However, at this time it is sadly patent that SS has drawn back to himself much more than his fair share to the extreme detriment of all of his vulnerable dependents.

It is apparent that SS once must have had relatively pure intentions. However, any teacher has a great responsibility and is so often forced to deal with an abundance of temptations, even more so a spiritual teacher. The lure of power over others with its ego-gratifying attractions often seduces the most well-meaning of men and this fact has been brought to light by many other 'masters/gurus' of our time.

It is my belief that what residual goodness is still left in SS has been overpowered completely by his dark side, which is born of and magnified by his attachment to worldly things, such as name, fame, money and power as he now grows older, weaker, more hopelessly possessed and more insincere and dangerous than ever before.

There are no true swamis or disciples in Yogaville as nobody is dedicated to God or the Truth; those who are have left or have been driven away by the hostility of those SS-adherents who wish to protect him together with their own painful illusions. Instead, salvation from personal suffering alone is sought and people prefer to place all of their security and hope in SS.

The ongoing pattern by SS is a reflection of the caliber of the teacher and lends itself, indeed it is quintessential, to the perpetuation and strengthening of the conductor of faith which, in turn, ensures the unimpeded continuation of his aspirations which have become more urgent as he himself has grown increasingly more power-hungry.

There are many signs and events which together unquestionably support the preceding observations. Following are a sample of these:

  • Experiences have been reported whereby a choice is imposed upon an individual by an inner vision. Once the person has chosen to surrender to SS following their compulsion, he/she feels relieved - but always temporarily. However, if such a commitment is not made, the same person begins to feel threatened, afraid, depressed or worse.
  • Grandiose and colorful visions are received by those who have surrendered to the 'guru', especially in dreams, which always exult SS as the solution.

Why SS and not God or the Light or Love or Truth?

What is it that can take over a person's life and guide their thoughts and actions?

So many at Yogaville earnestly believe that by belligerently defending their 'faith' and SS, they are standing up for the Truth. How few have the courage and sincerity to look deeply within themselves.

Daily communion with God/Truth on any level would be evidenced by progressive joy, a growing sense of purpose, ever-fresh inspiration and increasing wonder. In such high spirits, unconditional love for all becomes spontaneous and natural. The opposite is true at Yogaville as the negative pattern asserts itself in all those who bow blindly to SS. There are so many signs, but nobody wants to hear or see, ostensibly because it may involve the pain of a complete revision of their belief system and lives.

Those at Yogaville can make the choice both individually and as a community to begin healing, but first they must identify and accept the problem. This unfortunately means a painful change for the vast majority. It necessitates an acknowledgement of personal error and a loss of something, albeit false security had by many of those people who have been drawn to and remain at the ashram.

I have been to well over one hundred ashrams and spiritual centers in India, Europe, Canada and the USA, but never before have I beheld so many painfully unhappy and troubled swamis and chelas following this path in one place.

How many can really say "I work because I love God alone"? With this attitude, however, work becomes play and is relatively effortless. Actually it is spontaneous when devotion is developed but, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult paths in reality because so many of us want something for ourselves and that is precisely why we work; whether it is for money, acclaim, friendship, love or spiritual emancipation.

It has been repeatedly observed that SS passionately advocates karma yoga as being "The Way" while tacitly denying that alternative paths may be more appropriate for some seekers with differing tendencies.

It is apparent that this insistence of his over the years has harvested much abundance for himself, like the procurement and maintenance of his own kingly comforts, including: the building and upkeep of his vast house with oversized satellite dish, delightfully perched high upon a prime spot within Yogaville and overlooking the whole area of the ashram grounds; the service of his numerous Cadillacs and a Rolls Royce at the ashram garage; the providence of his private aircraft and the allowance of his many vacations abroad to exotic countries (where he often spends time with wealthy and influential people).

Bearing in mind the aforementioned expenses and considering also that SS has a private bank account in his own name, it is not easy to reconcile, for example, such actions as the auctioning of his artwork (simple but "priceless" Sanskrit letters) for many hundreds of dollars each in satsang so as to provide adequate funds to furnish the ashram school with essentials like carpets etc.

We can take nothing through the funnel of spiritual deliverance with us; no religion, book, guru, belief system. Dependency on anything must be shed and one security alone should be nurtured - our trust in God. We must find the courage to stand alone in truth, alone in the sense of being free from material or spiritual attachments and desires. Yet truly we are never alone, as God is always present, waiting patiently at the door of our hearts in readiness that we may faithfully choose to let Him into our conscious lives.


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