Four virtues and four methods
28th of January, 2008 - 18:58
The Buddha had some wise insights into the means for getting to know another thoroughly. While the text that inspired this blog entry is more of a chapter in general wisdom of life, the principles certainly apply in examining a prospective guru --- which has been the subject of many a discussion.
As for the misleading note
27th of January, 2008 - 9:34
My earlier note on misleading in the "Knocking on the Cocoon" entry led some to wonder what exactly I meant with that. Let's let that be clarified.
On the Siksa-guru Principle
26th of January, 2008 - 17:22
Some readers have wondered as to why one might accept a siksa-guru while the diksa-guru is still present. There are also a number of other considerations that are in place on the under-explored theme of the siksa-guru.
The Aparadha Issue
24th of January, 2008 - 15:37
With themes such as have been brought up in the last two blogs, the age-old issue of aparadha again raises its hoods. Let me clarify my position on this. First, I would like to acknowledge that I have read all the scriptural references on Vaisnava-aparadha as well as most, and have given due thought to them. When I write as I write, I write with knowledge of the said principles, making the choices that I believe are proper, truthful and righteous. I realize that not everyone may agree with my judgment calls.
TBI - Part 2 - Looking at the foundations
24th of January, 2008 - 11:40
I had initially thought of being much more reserved in over the depth in which I'd be writing of all this. However, as I realize there is nothing for me to lose in being more open, let's hear the full story. It'll certainly help people get an idea of where I'm at, and also learn of the route I've had to take. Writing is also a good form of processing the experience to ensure the removal of repressions from the subconscious. These entries seem to be becoming a bit elongated; I write as it comes. Read if you will, don't if you won't. Let's travel back in time to last spring...
The Babaji Incident - Part 1 - What blew it all
21st of January, 2008 - 14:42
Some were wondering about the details of my abruptly concluded stay with the babaji during Niyama-seva and a bit beyond. I was more than brief in my note after moving back to my own precious peace, after all. As I noted, the experience left me with many lessons in life. I have edited the earlier blog entry to remove references that would identify him by name to give me space to write more freely of the experiences, of which many may find something to learn. This is the first write-up in what I surmise will be an interesting series.
Application for 180 days of jail
18th of January, 2008 - 16:56
This is a translation of my letter of refusal from military and civil service sent to the Finnish civil service authority, should it be of interest.
Knocking on the Cocoon
17th of January, 2008 - 5:56
"Little late. You already misled many..." --- said the anonymous commentator on an earlier blog entry.
Asperin Philosophies
17th of January, 2008 - 5:31
Some of you have been missing philosophical writings. Here goes: Unity and difference of Atman and Brahman, doctrinal trouble with different strata of philosophy fused into a single doctrine, and God's creation of the chicken and the egg.
The Bodhisattva's Cocoon
16th of January, 2008 - 5:16
Some may have wanted to take a peek into my psyche for insight into the fundamental reasons of my present direction into solitude, the underlying impetus of my turn from the dim limelights of outreach. What has made the once almost all-permeating wish to help others subside? Is the bodhisattva now staring at the navel of his own fat belly?
About Sahajiyas, Ogres and Other Ominousities
2nd of January, 2008 - 15:46
This blog is here to clarify my views on sahajiyas, orthodoxies, ogres, blue flamingos and any number of other such subjects and entities people might be wondering about.
Difference between ISKCON and Gaudiya
2nd of January, 2008 - 11:03
Excerpt from correspondence.
Websites future - Input sought
1st of January, 2008 - 5:33
As a careful reader will have noticed, by sometime in the summer I will be dropping out of the GV internet scene altogether (occasional e-mails aside.) It is unlikely that I am to return, this transition off the world of internet has been a long time coming and is now nearing its definite final phase. Your input is sought.

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The Babaji Incident - Part 1 - What blew it all
Posted: 21st of January, 2008 - 14:42
Some were wondering about the details of my abruptly concluded stay with the babaji during Niyama-seva and a bit beyond. I was more than brief in my note after moving back to my own precious peace, after all. As I noted, the experience left me with many lessons in life. I have edited the earlier blog entry to remove references that would identify him by name to give me space to write more freely of the experiences, of which many may find something to learn. This is the first write-up in what I surmise will be an interesting series.

Let me give you an overall gloss on why things went south. Money, money, money — as it turns, that's what it boiled down to in the end. The whole drama — and a damn well performed one at that! — had to do with first of all getting me to become his primary source of above the average income, both directly and through solicitation, and second, to his gaining an avenue for the disciple-making business among the foreign devotees. In other words, I was to be the instrument for his American Dream.

I know that the standards of acceptable treatment in Indian education and guru-disciple dynamics differ radically from the politically correct standards of the West, and I also understand that a student can't really start giving the teacher recommendations on methodology of teaching, not in this part of the world anyway. There are, however, limits to everything! First of all, there's a limit to how much a being with some vestiges of emotion in the psyche can take, and second, there's also a limit to how far unreasonable and unjust can be rationalized and tolerated.

Looking at the extreme, and I mean literally extreme, beyond anything I could have even imagined in my wildest dreams as to its harshness and bluntness, treatment I was subjected to, it boiled down to driving one lesson home: I was to become a mindless pawn, my ability for independent evaluation was to be shut off, including any discrimination as to what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. "Whatever I say, keep this well in mind, is sure, sure. There's no second thought needed." We'll return to this theme, a theme of substantial interest, in a future entry.

I overlooked a whole lot more than I ordinarily would ever have, owing to the special circumstances (in terms of my inner state) in which our meeting took place. (Read the earlier blog.) Owing to this inspiration, I was willing to extend my faith and hope far beyond a rational limit — and this was also fueled with the babaji's repeatedly telling me how the guru puts the disciple through many tests and ordeals to see what he's made of.

I was initially the ideal disciple under the god-sent siksa-guru, a disciple who had given his all — entirely by the book — in the guru's service. All of his time, all of his belongings, complete atma-samarpana or self-surrender. "Let me give it a go", I thought — "let's do it properly once and for all, come what may." Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, they say, and indeed to hell the whole thing went in grand style.

My final conclusion over divine coincidences is this: Don't believe in coincidences, no matter how divinely arranged they might seem. Coincidences are easy to set up if one has a sufficiently clever and ruthless a mind. Test everything against the anvil of reason, conscience, trusted friends and sadhus, and scriptures. And yes, on the anvil of God — if he can arrange a divine coincidence, he can certainly also confirm its veracity. But more on this later on.

The final break, following perhaps a week of increased doubt over the direction things were taking, that made me pack my bags came when I gained proof positive of his dishonesty. He had become too confident of my being the credulous idiot he wanted to make of me, and became more daring in his milking for money through what essentially amounts to fraud. It was actually a small, yet a substantial lie that blew the whistle.

The babaji had asked me for money for two cans of Chyawanprash, one for each, of the Gurukul brand which I knew to be the cheapest of the lot. The price was to be 185 Rs. per jar, he told, so 370 Rs. for two, which I promptly gave, even while stating my surprise that I had assumed it would be less — I assumed it to be in the 130-140 Rs. range. "No, the price has increased now." The next morning I saw the cans in his room and looked at the label saying MRP (Maximum Retail Price) 128 Rs. and noted the same. "That's an old price — the new price is 185, but I actually got them for 180 each." A great deal, 10 rupees off! And a hefty mark-up from the old price, too, to the level of actual decent quality products! That evening I checked for the price at a random medical store, and the man quoted me, "For you, sir, I'll give for 100 rupees a kilo."

So that was that, caught lying. It also fueled a number of earlier suspicions of dishonesty (that I had promptly brushed off), such as three incidents of lost funds, of 500, 4500 and 1000 Rs. respectively, attributed to twice "oops" for the smaller amounts, and once theft for the larger amount. A surprising "coincidence" is that after a few days from the last incident, he "borrowed" 6000 Rs. from "someone" to get finances back into balance... The constant circle of borrowing and staying in debt with two to three weeks deadline was there to keep me "generating" more income, and more often than not money didn't exactly go to the purpose it was originally intended for, leaving a further need.

Looking at him and money was like watching a kid enter a candy store. No discrimination whatsoever of priority and necessity. His kutir was filling up with stuff that just sat idle on shelves, the place, his three rooms, was like a junkyard with items both found and purchased. TV and satellite antenna were also on the list of stuff I was supposed to get for him, as he was of the opinion that it was a necessary cover-up to not let people understand the height of internal bhajana that was going on. Yes, you heard it right.

Further investigations after my departure revealed the dishonesty to be a blatant pattern that had gone on since the very beginning. The mridanga that was bought for 1400 retailed for 1000 when I asked. The fixing of a glass fibre mridanga cost 2300, while a new one can be bought for 1600. The huge steel box that was bought for 3300 retailed for 2200 as I asked. And I don't even want to start thinking whether the 3000 he said he owed someone was a fact.

All in all, my 50 days with him came to cost me over 30,000 rupees.A fair price for the education. Of that, a bit over a half I was able to finance from my last savings (which were on the slim side after the house project) and after selling the video camera I no longer used, and 15,000 I had to borrow from a friend (something I still need to pay back). Fortunately my monthly expenses are otherwise very low, were they not I'd be in a bit of a mess. And hey, on the bright side of things, I didn't need to pay rent while I was there!

Among the themes to come in future blogs:

* Cultural conflicts in guru-disciple dynamics
* Carisma and psychological manipulation
* Show-bottle siddhis as a means for augmenting power
* Delusions of omniscience and related grandeur
* Misguided motivations for making disciples
* Things to consider in evaluating a guru
* The difficulty in breaking a relatonship

Maybe I should write a book and break even. Stay tuned — same bat-channel, totally random intervals.
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