Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I have made my final entry in the LESSONS IN POWER section of this blog. I consider my work done here, but will continue to respond to comments and questions. Those wishing to send me any personal messages may do so by commenting here with their contact information. I will not publish private correspondences.

I hope that this has been helpful to those who have left the SRCM or are questioning their involvement. At the very least, it is my sincere wish that by providing my truthful thoughts and experiences, here, that an honest discussion can occur that strengthen's everyone's confidence in whatever spiritual direction they choose.


Recent postings of letters and accusations against Chari's SRCM from the Shahjahanpur based SRCM introduced by Navneet, Babuji’s grandson, ( www.srcmshahajahanpur.org.in) has caused may questions. I'm going to attempt to address this as best I can as I am being asked to do so by several who comment regularly on my Blog. What is written below is based on facts as best I can recollect them, along with my own personal analysis and assessments of characters and underlying intentions of each character involved.
Lawsuits, Letters and Quotes from Dead People

SRCM has many divisions and factions, the two main warring factions I will refer to in this article as the Chari Clan, and the Umesh Clan. I use these terms because their behavior can easily be likened to Clan warfare.
Both clans are guilty of using the same techniques to discredit the other Clan and bolster their own credibility. Chari claims that the Umesh clan poisoned him with arsenic. Umesh produces a letter written by Babuji in Paris in 1982 claiming that Chari was poisoning Him. Both sides file legal actions against the other and produce signed, typed letters from Babuji making bold and contradictory claims. Both sides claim credibility from communications with the Dead. As an example, the Umesh Clan website quotes Lalaji from the grave claiming Babuji as Master until the end of earth ( http://www.srcmshahjahanpur.org.in/facts.html ). A quote that clearly was not made while Lalaji was alive! Chari recently had a French medium allegedly communicate with Babuji from the dead and publishes it as a book. Naturally all comments from Babuji are complementary of Chari.

This behavior has it’s source from Babuji himself. He meets Lalaji 3 times in person, then years after his death, claims in a dream to be told by Lalaji that he is a special personality and his sole successor. Babuji allegedly writes volumes upon volumes of autobiographical material claiming to have meetings with Jesus Christ, Buddha, Vivenkenanda, all transmitting to him and praising his spiritual prowess.

Why would anyone spiritually driven even bother to do these things? What is the natural result of creating an exclusive successor lineage, and an organization of passive, and subservient disciples who unquestioningly follow the orders of a single Master or his Organization?

With this smokescreen being laid out by both sides I constantly hear the following questions in various blog commentary:

1. Was Babuji Delusional?
2. Which side is telling the truth?
3. Who should one believe?
4. Are the letters authentic?

Like any good political or religious organization, these are the questions that those in power want the population to ask. It distracts from the real questions and causes one to question their opposition. I suggest we ask the following questions.

1. Why would a spiritually adept individual with humanity’s benefit in mind create such mythology around them selves?
2. If spiritual up liftment of Humanity is the goal, why would nature restrict this through only one living human being?
3. Why does a spiritual organization like the SRCM have so many factions that are fighting for control?
4. What do they desire to control that is so important that they resort to this kind of behavior?
5. If all parties agree that Babuji’s letters can be forged, why give credence to any of these documents.
6. Why is control over the Mission’s name, emblem and property so important to the warring Clans?

I don't have answers to any of these questions. I only suggest we ask the right questions and not get lost in the smokescreen. I will attempt to re-iterate what I know from my blog and add any further details I can below:

The Guru Persona
Having been a preceptor once, I directly experienced the cultural influence such a position has on people. It is the easiest thing to act holy and command the attention and reverence of others in this position. Its source does not come from the Preceptor, nor does it come from the Master, it comes from the combined attention of those who believe that a preceptor/master is a source of spiritual power. It only takes one or two non-believers to destroy the communal mindset. Gurus avoid these situations like the plague to maintain their image. Chari and Babuji were no exception to this, choosing to stay close to their inner circle where they could easily maintain their persona. I’m certain that Umesh used similar techniques. Put any of them in a Texas pool hall and watch their persona and influence diminish to nothing.
Babuji's Letters
watched Babuji sign letters written by his close associates and handed to him for signing. I’ve also seen Babuji extremely sick and completely at the mercy of those around him. I suspect that the original letter that Chari produced was authentic ( http://www.srcmshahjahanpur.org.in/facts-fraud_nomination.html ), however, it did not claim that Chari was a spiritual Master. Simply that he would be president and representative. This however is only my opinion knowing the characters involved. Whether Chari and others exploited Babuji's condition to forge letters doesn’t really matter one bit as, clearly both Clans accuse the other of creating forgeries, then both sides are admitting that forging Babuji's letters was easily done. That is a fact we can all acknowledge since all parties involved have admitted to this fact.

Character Assessments
Chari - Chari in his disciple days made himself as visibly loyal to Babuji as possible. He inserted himself in visible ways during Babuji's trips to the West, always attending to him, always advising him, always near him. His outward appearance was very materialistic and imposing. He smoked Dunhill cigarettes, dressed extremely well, and was visibly putting him self in the public eye of westerners as a likely successor. I can only imagine how Indians resented this.
Umesh - My experience with Umesh was from knowing him and his wife for about 2 weeks while he visited the US on his "unofficial" visit to the US. Un-official because Babuji would not make it "official". This, in and of itself, is telling. He travelled with two of the more senior Preceptors in the Mission who opposed Chari. Umesh occasionally attended sittings and showed little interest in being actively involved in the activities of the organization. I definitely felt that these two Preceptors (Ragavendra Rao and Ramacandra Reddy) had brought him along to give them some sort of additional credibility and start socializing him as a possible figure head. It was obvious to everyone that Babuji would die in a few years and this appeared to me to be a direct counter to Chari's interaction with the west.
Overall Analysis is that both the Chari and Umesh clans were blatantly trying to woo the West for support. Chari's more westernized personality was far more effective than what was presented by his opposition. The other senior preceptors did not have the political skills nor the financial where with all to travel extensively with Babuji on his international trips. Umesh appeared to be their only figurehead given that, as his son, he had as much close access to Babuji as Chari. The validity of either seems immaterial to me as in both instances,it was a fight for control and power, having nothing to do with the spiritual upliftment of humanity and far more to do with gaining the favor of wealthy westerners.

Paris 1982
I attended the Paris 1982 gathering. My observation is that, at that time there were those who supported Chari and those who opposed him. Andre Poray was on the side that opposed Chari. There was no doubt in my mind that this gathering was an attempt to divert western attention away from Chari. Chari was explicitly not invited to the gathering, however, somehow, he managed to be there. I was told that this was because Babuji demanded Chari’s presence there. This may or may not be true, as Chari may simply have shown up on his own accord. Chari was in a room next to Babuji's, which adds credence to the theory that Babuji wanted him there. Members of Chari’s opposition attempted to attend to Babuji keeping Chari as far away as possible. I spent many an hour in Chari's room and witnessed Babuji's attendees sheepishly requesting Chari’s presence in Babujis room due to Babuji’s request.
I also witnessed that Babuji was sick and delirious. Attendees would drive him to the meditation hall, and carry him into the hall, this effort requiring two large men to carry out. He would black out and fall on his knees if he tried to walk. It was as if they were carrying a corpse into the hall for all to see. Any letter written by Babuji at this time in this state, is questionable, especially such a long letter as the one on the Umesh Clan website. In my opinion, any official documents signed by Babuji during this time frame has little credibility.

Chari on the other hand was also aggressively keeping himself in the public eye. He played the role of the man in exile, holding court in his small room, inviting friendly disciples to mediate with him. It was a very effective bit of drama as he knew that people like myself would see his opposition attempt to attend to Babuji in a western country, while Babuji had come accustomed to Chari serving this role. Babuji's constant calls for Chari were embarrassing I'm sure to Chari’s opposition.

As for the references to the doctor attending to Babuji. I spoke with the Doctor at length just after Babuji left. He was a German doctor who practiced both homeopathic and conventional, allopathic medicine. No mention of treachery. His story was that Babuji was far too sick to travel to the west and should never had made the trip. He felt that the trip to Paris would likely be the death of Babuji. Given that Babuji never fully recovered from this trip, his words have the most credibility of all other claims.

Fact and Fiction
Ignoring letters, legal pursuits, accusations, etc, we can at least determine the following as facts:

1. All factions agree that Babuji's letters could easily be forged

2. All factions were clearly posturing for taking over the Mission during Babuji's last days
3. Significant importance was put on developing the Mission in the West and attracting wealthy westerners
4. All factions strove to be visibly close to Babuji during his western trips in his final years

Babuji created an organization that was based on power and exclusivity. In his last years he was also an extremely sick man who clearly could be manipulated by those around him as evidenced by accusations from both sides claiming the other side exploited this situation. The push for western validation was about power and money. Chari spent significant time and effort gaining a foot hold before Babuji's death, then exploited it by traveling to Europe and the US after Babuji's death, surrounding himself with wealthy disciples from the west and creating a massive library of books from his talks and speeches. He overpowered the opposition who reacted as best they could, by discrediting Chari through whatever means necessary. Both sides exploited the corrupt Indian legal system to gain control of the name and emblem.
There are plenty of examples of either side filing legal action against the other. One attempt in April of 2000, where Chari’s Clan filed a complaint against the Umesh Clan with ICANN, the internet domain registrar, protesting the use of sahajmarg.org as a domain name. The complaint was denied, however, this effort clearly demonstrates significant value being placed on the intellectual property of the Mission. (See http://www.arb-forum.com/domains/decisions/94237.htm for the decision). Need I remind everyone that the Legal profession both in the US and India, is not one of high integrity when it comes to these types of legal actions. Giving any credibility to the lawyers who represent these claims misses the point. These legal claims are attacks on the credibility of the opposition and simply the exploitation of the legal system for the purpose of gaining an upper hand in controling the Mission.

What is happening here is a power grab, and, "he who has the most disciples wins" appears to be the rule of the game. I stand by my analysis in the "Lessons In Power" article in my Blog (www.innercircleofsrcm.blogspot.com). The real power comes from the disciples, not from the Master. It is easy to sit in a chair in front of thousands of doting disciples and appear to be holy. The spiritual environment is created by the people surrounding the Master, not by the Master himself. Any truly spiritual teacher will not impose anything of him self on the student, but will push the student to find it in his or her self. This is completely lacking in the SRCM system from the beginning, and neither of the warring factions have attempted to introduce anything but centralized, power based spiritual principles to their disciples. The Sufi tradition treated the teacher as a friend, house guest or grandfather. It was about human interaction and learning by example. It was about actions in the real world, not un-substantiated communications with the Brighter World. This Sufi aspect has been completely eliminated from SRCM, leaving only a misguided concept that spirituality must come from something outside oneself, and one must find the one and only true spiritual guide in the entire world to achieve it.

I know I am repeating myself as I've already stated this in my Blog, but, the most dangerous aspect of SRCM is the creation of myths. Quoting Babuji or Lalaji from the dead, claims of inter-communication with Jesus ( who's legacy is slammed constantly by Chari and his inner circle), Buddha, etc. are easily created, and unfortunately easily believed by non-thinking, obedient members of a cult. All factions are using this technique to give themselves credibility. How hard would it be to create such myths and get obedient, unquestioning cult members to believe them? Anyone can produce a letter signed by Babuji, and invent a quote from Lalaji or Babuji from the brigher world, or claim intercommunication with Krishna or Jesus. Sadly, we have seen that the cult mentality will have throngs of individuals believing these claims without question.The actions of all those involved in all factions of this organization is embarrassingly materialistic, power seeking, and not the behavior of anyone even remotely interested in spirituality and God. There is little point in weeding through these claims to determine the truth. There’s plenty of deception, lies, and selfishness from both Clans. Its the equivalent of choosing which street gang has the least negative impact on the neighborhood, or whether the Hitler or Mussolini was the better man. There is a battle for control of the minds and souls of an extremely wealthy and subservient group of individuals. Beyond that, the true facts are vague and irrelevant. One only needs ignore the words, documents, legal filings and quotes from dead people, and examine the actions of these individuals to see the truth –and the truth will indeed set you free.


Monday, June 19, 2006

IntroductionOver 20 years ago when I was young and impressionable, I decided to react against my protestant upbringing and explore eastern thought and meditation pracitces. Living in the northeast, there were ample choices from the Tibetan Buddist temple down the street to the Vipasana Meditation Center out in Western Massachusetts. I sought something more personal, and discovered a rag tag group of people in the US who were learning a reformed version of Raj Yoga that had somehow had combined Sufism with Yoga to create a meditative, spiritual practice. The organziation was called the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. The method of meditation they practiced was called Sahaj Marg, which means natural path.

I traveled to India to meet Ram Chandra, or Babuji as they called him. He was an aging retired bank clerk with an impressive presence. He still traveled to the west occasionally, but within a few years he passed away. One character who dominated in the organization was Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, kindly referred to as Chari. This man was an imposing westernized, cigarette smoking Indian who ran a mill in India. He had the financial freedom and drive to attend most of Ram Chandra international travels.

When Babjuji passed, Chari surfaced as his hand picked successor. This caused great controversy in India and parts of Europe, as many were offended by his strong and apparently arrogant personality and aggressive approach to running a spiritual organization. For Americans, it was normal, so many of us just accepted this behavior as status quo.

This story is about my hasty indoctrination into Chari's inner circle and just as hasty removal. The lessons learned from human behavior around people and positions of power and influence has guided my life for more than a decade of experience. I attempt to explain in this story the evolution of my thinking starting from this experience of over 15 years ago to present day.

The other objective of this blog is for those who currently belong to this organization, which has evolved into a large international organization that hungrily buys real estate like castles in Europe and entire neighborhoods in India. Those who choose to leave the organization are confronted with subtle and not so subtle threats of great spiritual destitude and abandonment. While I have no intention to convince anyone to leave, I do want to let those who choose to leave, that life on the other side is fine and ones spiritual quest, what ever form it takes when one leaves such an organization, does indeed continue.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LESSONS IN POWER: Introduction

After my very first post "Lessons in Power", many have requested that I document my experiences in SRCM. To address these requests, I am integrating this first post into a series of 8 sections which will be published over the coming weeks:

1. The Founder's Last Years - describing my experiences in the Mission during Babuji's last years from 1979 to 1983

2. Death of the Master - Chariji's Early Days - outlining the power struggle that followed Babuji's death and Chari's establishment as the new President and Spiritual Representative of Babuji.

3. The Publishing Commitee - my experiences during my invovlement in recording and publishing Chari's speeches.

4. Establishing New Principles - observations regarding Chariji's efforts to establish "Service and Obedience to the Mission" as a new key directive in the practice of Sahaj Marg

5. My Departure - description of my departure from the mission

6. Meeting New Masters - exploration of the history of Sahaj Marg

7. Recovering from SRCM - my recovery process from more than 10 years of indoctrination

8. Analysis - My personal analysis of how cultism evolves and the source of a Guru's power.

LESSONS IN POWER Part 1: The Founder's Last Years
When I joined SRCM in 1979, I was 19 years old. I had taught myself to meditate at the age of 13 and wished to receive some training and guidance. I sought out a low key organization that didn’t want money or exploit people. I was not interested in joining a cult but sincerely wanted to explore how meditation could calm the mind and help one in their journey towards God. Sahaj Marg seemed perfect for me. This organization seemed not to be about money at all. Several key factors attracted me.

1. Prosthelytizing was not encouraged

2. Training was offered for free

3. There was no focus on buildings or property

4. The practice did not involve cultural or religious indoctrination

5. Focus on experience as opposed to study of the practice

At the time I joined, Babuji was in his last years. I traveled to Denmark in 1980 to meet him for the first time. Here I also met Chari, his apparent right hand man when traveling abroad. Chari was a very westernized, Dunhill smoking Indian executive. He seemed very European and interacted well with the westerners. He was clearly part of Babuji’s inner circle.

The Danish center was one of the first in the west, with an impressive group of middle aged, successful abhaysis who seemed to love Babuji had integrated Sahaj Marg into their European lifestyle. This impressed me, as they did not dress up as Indians or pretend to be something other than Danes.

Babuji spoke little, preferring to sit with his disciples and smoke his sweet tobacco smelling hooka pipe. When he traveled, he would publish a short message in lieu of giving public talks, and instead remained available for people to simply sit quietly with him. Occasionally, he would offer to meditate with the group.
It was a compelling experience for a young impressionable 20 year old such as myself.

I followed him to Munich where things turned dark. Andre Poray, who was a senior French Preceptor was there and appeared to be a rival of Chari’s. The rumors were that Andre, while extremely successful in attracting large numbers in France, had also attracted people who were not necessarily sincere in their spiritual practice but were interested in black arts. I can’t say for sure whether these rumors were true or not, but, I witnessed the beginning of a very dark series of events. Babuji suddenly stopped being available to the larger group, and Chari’s demeanor went from jovial westernized Indian to being very curt and secretive.

I left Munich this point, but others close to me told stories of Babuji and Chariji showing up for a group meditation dressed in black. A group meditation occurred where some one meditating in the crowd shouted out and became delirious. Andre Poray helped to remove him from the room and the sitting was topped. Babuji quickly left the scene with Chari. Later Chari was quoted as saying, “I will never go to France again”. Given that he was in Germany, the assumption was that this little incident had something to do with the goings on in France and the rivalry between Andre Poray and Chari.
Having missed some of these incidents, I choose not to think too much about them until much later in my practice.

Prior to my first trip to India in 1981, three Indians did an un-authorized tour of the US. Babuji’s son, Umesh Saxena, and two senior preceptors, Ragavendra Rao and RamaChandra Reddy. They stayed in my center for a week or more, and traveled a bit to centers in the US. It was made clear however that this was an “unofficial” visit. The intent of this trip seemed innocent at the time. I befriended the two senior Preceptors, and they clearly made great efforts to get favor with the Americans, going so far as to dress up in western suits when meeting prospective abhyasis for the first time.

Umesh, Babuji’s son, seemed to me to be along for the ride. He was not a preceptor, and occasionally took sittings. He told a few stories about pretending to give sittings to kids while growing up. There was some talk about him being able to transmit because he was Babuji’s son, but, he was for some reason not allowed to do so. In retrospect, this was the second incident I witnessed that indicated some internal strife within the organization that had been created to make Sahaj Marg available, but at the time, I was young and naive, and willing to overlook the obvious.

I traveled to India in 1981 and stayed in the Ashram in Shahjahanpur. It was the only property the Mission owned at the time – a beautiful complex located a few miles from Babuji’s house. Prior to this property, abhyasis would stay at Babuji’s house. The ashram was built to accommodate the larger numbers that started to travel to visit Babuji. No money was requested, but donations were accepted to pay for food and operations. The basic feeling was that of hospitality, we were Babuji’s guests.

The last time I saw Babuji was in France. Chari, who was not invited, went against his statement in Munich and showed up anyway. It was clear at this time that Andre Poray and Chari were in a bitter power struggle and a public display for the masses was put on. Andre ran the show, giving long talks and being seen with Babuji. Chari hid in his room and gave sittings. Privately he complained about the goings on in France. At one point he said, “I want to get up and give a talk of my own by putting a microphone to my heart and say, hear the voice of the Master”. He was allowed to give a talk, his talk was lengthy as well. I remember innocently telling him that it was a good talk but it was a bit long. He seemed shocked by this comment.
During this last visit to the west, Babuji was frail and made few public appearances. In one appearance he was walked down the isle to give a sitting, two large men held each arm. His legs would give out and he would start to fall, they would hold him up and continue to walk him down towards the stage. I was sitting at the edge of the isle looking down sadly when Babuji was being walked by me. At that instant, in spite of the two men holding him up, he fell over on top of me. I was shocked and devastated. The message I received from this was that he was dying. This overshadowed the rest of the gathering, and overwhelmed any thoughts of the ongoing power struggle between Poray and Chari.

LESSONS IN POWER Part 2: Death Of The Master - Chari's Early Days

In 1983 Babuji grew sick. Conflicting messages came from various factions throughout India. Umesh Saxena clearly was attempting to take the stage by sending notices that Babuji would be healed and would live to the age of 100 or more. Babuji finally passed. At this point in time, the battle began for control of the Mission.

Chari immediately produced his letter from Babuji stating that he was the designated successor. Umesh Saxena wrote a letter to all centers saying in broken English “I have little evidence that Chari’s claims are not correct”. Ragavendra Rao and his associates appeared to side with Umesh, and a legal battle ensued which prevented Chari from having control of the Ashram in Shahjahanpur. Chari eventually gained sufficient legal status to establish himself as the President of the Mission. He garnered support from the west, having befriended the more senior disciples in Denmark, Germany and the US. Almost immediately, he traveled to the west to establish his base, making speeches and publishing every talk he made for the masses to read.
I made one trip to India to where Lalaji’s birthday was to be celebrated in Shahjahanpur. Chari choose to be there, although he was clearly not invited. A large group of Chari supporters arrived with Chari a week before the celebrations. Chari stayed in Babuji’s cottage, and kept Babuji’s Chair empty and visible as a symbol. I had married an Indian and spent my time with the Indian contingent and was asked to help with nighttime security, walking the compound. On the third night, an Indian friend told me that my help was not needed and that I should do and sleep. A jeep had pulled up and there was lots of talking going on. Clearly some sort of incident was about to happen, and the Indians were trying to protect me from it. That morning, I awoke to find gates locking the entrances to the dormitory. The water shut off, and all the staff who ran the Ashram were gone or hiding.
People were able exit from small doors from the dormitory, and eventually it was decided that we were to all move to the farm next door run by the Tandon family, who were loyal to Chari. We stayed in tents and camped there in view of the Ashram. I was delegated as the Western Representative as I had recently had a suit tailored in India and had it with me. Chari seemed to like my innocent, and sincere way of explaining things. I was asked to have my account typed up by a typist, but in fact Chari dictated the entire account himself while I was present. I was sent to speak with the local magistrate and gave interviews to the press about the “international incident” that had occurred in Shahjahanpur. I took a letter signed by US abhyasis to the US embassy to file a formal complaint about our treatment there. This gained me lots of favor from Chari and allowed me a peek into his Inner Circle. The next year I was made Preceptor.

Lessons In Power Part 3: The Publishing Committee

Prior to my becoming a preceptor, the Zonal Secretary of the US had befriended me and asked me to be involved in the North American Publishing Committee. Since I was an engineer who designed digital recording equipment for a living, my skills were directed towards recording and editing Chari’s speeches. I remained on the periphery of the NAPC. The members of that committee were senior abhyasis who were loyal to Chari. Their efforts were clearly important to Chari and being a member of this committee afforded up close and personal meetings with him that often pre-empted other activities. Members of this committee used their involvement to gain exclusive access to Chari as a result. The atmosphere within the committee was that of exclusivity and importance. Chari’s style of managing this group was to insist on his total control of the flow of his words into published tapes, videos, and books. My involvement was tolerated due to the need for technical expertise, but in no way was I accepted into the inner fold. Secret meetings occurred without me on regular basis. These meetings generally involved discussions around the content of what was being published and I was only involved in discussions that required logistical or technical decisions.

While I was sufficiently trusted to be allowed into this exclusive circle, activities in this committee required intense interaction with Chari and members jealously guarded that privilege by keeping me at arms length. Here I saw for the first time how a Guru uses his inner circle draw people in, and test their devotion to him. Others clearly saw that this was an opportunity for relative new comers such as myself to shine and gain favor. Subtle efforts were made to insure that my work was overshadowed by theirs. I was tasked with the un-glamorous work of running tape recorders and editing the recordings for publication. My job was to insure that Chari had a copy of every speech as soon as the speech was over. This was sufficiently important to him that I was allowed to deliver these tapes personally, however, other members of the committee would occasionally insist on intervening and delivering these tapes themselves. The unique attention I created from this new attention getting task was not going be allowed to be exclusively mine!

Volumes of tape recordings were produced on a yearly basis, and it was my job to edit out French translation and delete harsh language. Chari appeared to improvise many of his speeches, and there were times when he needed his words changed by recording over phrases that he did not intend to say for posterity. Chari insisted on absolute control over his words. My job was to insure that bootleg recordings were discouraged and even confiscated.

There seemed to be a dire concern that if abhyasis were allowed to make their own recordings Chari’s control over his intellectual property was breached. Rumors of abhyasis caught sharing bootleg speeches with others were investigated, and if found to be true, I would be asked to approach them and get all copies of tapes to secure Chari’s absolute control over the distribution of his words. By this time there was a large and growing group of French abhyasis who followed Chari around the world. They were particularly upset with me, as many were not fluent in English and used the tapes to interpret his speeches and private conversations. I was instructed to promise them that a French translation of the speech would be available at a later date.

The Publishing Committee became increasingly interested in recording Chari’s private discussions. There was constant pressure to “know” when to turn on a tape recorder, and when, to shut it off. I was often chastised by members of the Committee for not recording something said in private, and at other times for allowing discussions to be recorded. Chari always reserved the right to have certain discussions erased or confiscated. Often in private, he would interrupt and ask if the tape recorder was on, when he was going to say something he particularly did or did not want published.

He had established a sense of urgency within the Committee members to produce as much volume as possible, and left things sufficiently vague to create second guessing and rancor amongst the Committee members. Over time it was resolved that there were two primary objectives, generate as much of his published words as possible, and maintain absolute control over the content and distribution of his words.

These objectives had two benefits for Chari. First was the revenue that the constant flow of new publications generated, as a supply and demand relationship was exploited around any new material that Chari produced. The second and more insidious benefit was that Chari could now re-interpret the practice of Sahaj Marg and systematically insert himself and any new messages of his own, into the constant flow of published speeches. Since Chari was particularly verbose, there was no shortage of opportunities to generate more content to be published. Eventually the pressure to record private talks evaporated as public speeches provided plenty of opportunities to find material.

The Mission was still young in the west, anddid not charge money to abhyasis for training. This created challenges early on as these publications required up front money. Chari devised a plan where disciples were encouraged to purchase life subscriptions for puplications of Chari's new works. A sufficiently large fee was charged such that the bank interest from the fees could be used to fund the publishing efforts. Members had benefits of early access to new publications and in some instances exclusive access. With the publishing machine now funded and well oiled with capital, Chari used this machine to gradually shift attention away fro Babuji and his written words, and focus it squarely on himself and his dedication to grow the Mission as an example of devotion to his Master.

Lessons In Power Part 4: Establishing New Principles

While Chari kept Babuji’s primary message of heart based meditation alive and accurate, he was also slowly inserting new principles and directives for abhyasis. He presented himself as the model abhyasi. His devotion to serving his Master by growing his Mission in size and numbers was becoming a new and repetitive addition the core practice of Sahaj Marg.

As abhyasis came to accept Chari as the Master, a Master whose example should be emulated, they began to accept the same sense of urgency to grow the organization in numbers as a new integral part of their practice. By the sheer volume of text generated annually from Chari’s speeches and the absolute control over its distribution, this new concept of “Serving the Mission” as part of the actual practice of Sahaj Marg was being introduced as a constant underlying message in practically every speech Chari published. Success was measured in the quantity of new abyasis joining the Mission. The lack of growth in numbers was systematically equated to a lack of spiritual growth. A particular Preceptor or even Center was judged by the annual growth of abhyasis and chastized when numbers did not grow significantly on an annual basis.

Integral to the "Growth In Numbers" directive, was a new urgency to move group meditations out of the homes of Preceptors and into purchased or rented meditation halls. In addition, for the first time, Chari began planting the idea that the US should purchase property for its own Ashram. These efforts required money. More wealthy abhyasis eagerly donated to the cause which spawned a flurry of activity to raise more money. Dedicated abhyasis were approached and asked to make regular monthly donations to support this new costly effort to acquire property.

By this time Chari had established a powerful and well financed communications machine to spread the not so sublte message that with Mission Growth, came the need for abhyasis to dig into their wallets and donate money. Large gatherings became revenue generating events, where fees charged for attendance exceeded the expenses. Once gatherings became profitable, the need to reduce overhead by owning, not renting the halls where gatherings took place became tantamount. It was insisted that, these purchased properties were important as the Master could infuse his spiritual power into them and they would become holy places for spiritual gatherings.

By the mid 1980s France had purchased an estate in Augerans and the castle on the estate was transformed into a residence hall for visiting abhyasis and the visiting Master. The US could not be outdone and privately some wealthy Indian abhyasis conspired to purchase some property in Troy New York from an abhyasis. Somehow this deal was not officially sanctioned by Chari. It posed an interesting problem that an individual abhyasi was financially benefiting from the Mission by selling his property to it. The wealthy Indians believed that if they executed a private deal between themselves and the property owner, then donated the property to the Mission, this could be worked around. This created difficult political problems and eventually Mission funds were used for the transaction.

Meanwhile, the initiative to build an Ashram in the US spawned competition between various centers throughout the US to find the perfect site for an Ashram. This flurry of activity was fueled by the belief that an Ashram in your center equated to more favor and access to the Master, Chari.

Within a short 7 years, Chari had completely transformed the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. New principles were being introduced in Chari's speeches that focused on "service to the Mission". This new Mission was being transformed into an organization that required unquestioned loyalty and obedience. Rather than being a light structure used to serve in the spiritual training of abhyasis, service to the Mission was becoming an integral part of the practice of Sahaj Marg.

Lessons in Power Part 5: My Departure

The Gathering:

I arrived at an SRCM gathering in 1988 showered with congratulations from abhyasis I didn't even know. Apparently, without my knowledge, it had been announced to the entire group that I was to become a preceptor. This disturbed me a bit as I wasn't even asked if I wanted the job, and I lived in a particular center that was plagued by in fighting amongst preceptors and senior abhyasis.

In those days I was still impressionable with position and authority, and the glamour of being appointed by the Master to this position without being asked was intoxicating, so I fell for it. In reality, the correct response should have been to just say no, but that would be done for me a few years later.

The reality was that I wasn't appointed because of my spiritual abilities or sincerity, but as a political ploy by a Zonal Secretary who wanted to have the senior preceptor in my center removed. It was a political appointment, and was made clear to me that my job was to help. I reacted by simply making my home open to people for meditation. I tried to avoid the politics by having a quiet place where people could come and meditate without being subjected to the in fighting in the center. I did what I could to shield new abhyasis from the inner rancor of our center.

The Inner Circle Event:

Then a year later it happened. I was drawn into one of Chari's many inner circle love fests - Select abhyasis sitting in Chari's presence without the "riff-raff" present.

Chari, was handing out prasad saying things like, "this is for the beautiful wife of so and so" and "this is for he who wears a scarf"... In retrospect, the scene was not unlike that of a dog trainer throwing treats to his animals to see what tricks they would do for him.

Then he got serious for a moment and said, "This is for he who is pure of heart". The Zonal Secretary blatantly put out his hand to take the prasad, instead, Chari handed it to me. I reached out my hand in awe and took it. Jokingly I told the Zonal Secretary, “If it makes you feel better, that was extremely hard to swallow”.

This was the beginning of the end of my preceptor-ship in Sahaj Marg. From that day on, the Zonal Secretary turned from being my "friend" to doing what he could to marginalize me which ultimately led to my removal as preceptor.

If I was ambitious like others in the inner circle, I would have fought to retain my position, but, by that time, I had learned a little bit about the lure of power, and chose not to. I resigned all my administrative positions within the organization and proceeded to take a very low profile hoping that somehow the Master would intervene.

This is how things work in the inner circle. Those who desire influence and control, fight for it amongst each other in the presence of the Master and behind his back. The Master rewards those left standing with positions of authority. It’s an interesting version of "survival of the fittest". The Zonal Secretary eventually lost to a more ambitious individual; in fact his position was all but eliminated. There's truth to the saying, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."


Chari eventually did intervene. I was removed as a Preceptor in the same manner as how I was made one. No warning, just a letter announcing that while my services as a preceptor were appreciated, they were no longer required. Aside from the method of delivery of this message, I was relieved. Chari was completely unable to tell me what I did wrong other than a cryptic message stating that I should, "Just sit tight and keep a low profile. In six months, I'll make you a preceptor again." He seemed oblivious to the lessons I was learning from all of this. I had just paid a price for selfishly accepting a position of power to begin with, why would I want to be lured into taking it again?

Whatever reasons Chari has for tolerating these goings on in his circle, it was clear that he wasn't about to confide in me. Having still much to learn about the temptations of power, and Chari’s assumption that I was driven by my desire to have it in the form of preceptor-ship, it was clear that he was in no position to guide me at that critical time in my existence. I needed to leave the SRCM to learn this important aspect of reality. I am relieved that I left when I did, as Chari was in no position to provide me with the support or guidance during the dark times ahead of me, nor was any of his "preceptors". SRCM encourages dependence on the Master, what I needed to do was face what was ahead of me alone to learn that in reality, I am not alone nor am I independent.

I have proceeded in my "material" life to have power and authority positions in companies and organizations, reaching a pinnacle in the corporate world. While no doubt I still have much to learn, my conclusions today are as follows:

When Given Power:

1. Understand your responsibility in accepting it

2. Understand why you are given it.

3. Treat it responsibly and execute selflessly

4. Remember that no one is master of the power they have.

5. Power becomes the master to one who becomes attached to it.

In SRCM, these aspects of power are implied in the teachings and philosophy, but no practical training is provided. Worse yet, the SRCM administrative hierarchy is itself entangled in a web of power that takes on a life of its own. Surely Chari understands this, but apparently is willing to let this happen for some end that he cannot explain other than "I am following the instructions of my Master".

We can only hope that the end does justify the means. For myself, I've taken refuge in the private sector and found a bounty of spiritual lessons to learn there. While there is no living, breathing master to guide me through the dark times, guidance comes from the most unexpected places if one remains sensitive to it. To this day I remain grateful for the lessons I have learned from all these events.

I have nothing but love and best wishes for those who practice Sahaj Marg today. I hope that all find their way. For those who wish to leave but fear the consequences, I only hope that I can stand as proof that ones journey continues even outside the bounds of SRCM.

In his early days as a master, Chari was fond of saying, "The Proof of the Pudding is in the eating of it", when justifying spiritual practice verses scholarly study of spirituality.

I would counter; "The goal of one's life is to live it.”

Lessons In Power Part 6: Meeting Other Masters

Right up to the end of my involvement in SRCM, I had truly believed that Chari had a noble objective and somehow the right thing would happen. Instead I was betrayed and treated like a pawn within the inner circle. My example caused fear in the ranks, followed by an unspoken assumption that I clearly must have done something really bad. It was assumed by some, that I was simply a hot head who stood up to authority and questioned the intentions and integrity of people like the Zonal Secretary, but I tried to do the right thing in a very bad situation. I was punished for not completely surrendering to the temptation of spiritual attainment and power.

I exchanged a couple of fruitless correspondences with Chari only to find his story towards me evolve with every iteration. It started with tempting me with restoration of my preceptor position if I would just keep a low profile and stay in the Mission, to insisting that I had been “Disobedient in matters of the Mission”, then praising me as one of his most sincere disciples, one of only two westerners whom he blessed marrying an Indian woman. After saying my good byes to a few friends in the SRCM, I left with a huge sense of relief, never to looked back.

Meanwhile, my troubled marriage with an Indian woman continued. We had not been able to have children for 7 years of marriage, suddenly, after leaving the organization, this difficult relationship became more complicated with the birth of my first son. Chari would always tell us that we should not expect to have children and accept our fate - yet, almost as soon as we departed from the organizaton, the situation changed.

In all this I began my search for answers. A close Indian friend, PEN, who knew and was associated with Ramana Maharshi took me under his wing. This gentle fellow, an engineer by trade, introduced me to a wealth of knowledge about spirituality and yoga. Never once did he expect me to join anything, but simply share in the knowledge and quest. I got interested in the writings of Vivekananda and started to learn about traditional Raja Yoga. PEN took me to a Vedanta society center to get books and explore their culture. PEN, being an extremely westernized Indian, acknowledged strange attitude people associated with Vivekananda had towards women, keeping them separate from men in meditation. I was immediately reminded of how Chari started to enforce this in SRCM in the west. Indian culture seems to want to deal with sexuality in spirituality by pretending its not there. This created a bit of turmoil in me, having just left a cult, I was certainly not going to join another one. I was sufficiently indoctrinated into Indian culture through my marriage. Getting involved in any organization like this would require me to give up entirely my heritage as a westerner. My exploration in this area was acedemic and short.

I had also discovered through an abhyasi who came to me for meditations, that an Indian fellow who knew Lalaji was still alive. I was introduced to a local doctor who had met this man and was starting to have meditation sessions in his home. I met with the Doctor and started to meet people who had gathered in his home, most refugees from a local academy that taught eastern thought. I hesitated to get too involved, but this Indian, who we called Ranaji Saheb, came to stay in the Doctor’s home.

I took time off work to meet him. His demeanor was similar to Babuji’s. He loved to hear people to sing. People would simply sit with him silently with occasional discussion or song. I liked this man, but both he and I knew that I was not about to give my obedience and trust to him or any one else. While Ranaji had made it clear to the Doctor that he must completely submit to him if spiritual progress was to occur, he told me quite a different thing. Ranaji advised that I should explore my Christian roots. Both the Doctor and I had observed the inner circle culture revolving around this man. Ranaji didn’t seem to exploit it, but people attracted to the possibility of gaining spiritual power and advancement by association with him, showed all the typical signs of fighting for his favor and attention. Both the Doctor and I decided to cease our association with Ranaji and I have completely lost track of him and do not even know if he is still alive.

From Ranaji, I learned about Lalaji and his brother. Both were considered spiritual twins. Ranaji explained that Lalaji was a Hindu Sufi of the Naqushabandhi path. Teachers of this path typically did not create organizations, or had singular lineages, but strove to elevate humanity around them by association. Many travel to live with their disciples like a grandfather. Then move on so as not to foster too much attachment to them personally. I learned that a Russian woman, Irina Tweedie, had spent time with a disciple of Lalaji’s brother and started an organization called the Golden Sufi.

Irina had gotten old and reclusive, but her successor Llewellyn Vaughn Lee, and I corresponded for a year or two. This organization focused on dream analysis and meditation. I was not particularly interested in joining, but was very interested in learning more about the history.

My life by this time was flooded with dream like experiences far more profound than those found in my sleeping dreams, so dream analysis intrigued me. I decided to make a trip to New York City when Llewellyn was visiting there. We met in a small group at a book store. He seemed happy to see me and treated me with respect, like a peer of sorts. I appreciated this. The group meditated, followed by people telling Lewellyn about their dreams. A woman who was casually visiting told of a dream, and was convinced that she should attend the next day as a guest of Llewellyns. Others were chastised for their dreams. It was starting to become clear to me that this telling of dreams puts the teller in an extremely vulnerable position. Analysis of dreams can be used to pump up a deflated ego, or tear down an inflated one.

The next day, I attended another meeting. This time, I spoke about one of my real life dream like experiences - my son being born. His mother would not touch him or hold him at the time of birth. The nurse in frustration this unresponsiveness handed my son to me instead. The surroundings became surreal, everyone seemed to disappear. It was only me and my son. In spite of being less than a couple minutes old, he opened his eyes for the first time and looked straight into mine for what seemed to be an eternity. This shook me to the core as it was as if I was looking into the eyes of God. We stood together by a window looking out over the city together for at least 10 minutes. A silent communication occured during that time, that could not be explained in words.

After explaining this story in a somewhat emotional manner, Llewellyn proceeded to tear me apart. Asking me what I really wanted, and why I was there. I stated that I was there to learn about his path. He went on to tell me that I had already been lead down the garden path, believing that spiritual achievement was the goal when simply being was the path.

I left New York City by train that night, thinking about what he had said. What he said was true. I had already concluded that before hearing it from him, but the message was delivered in a manner such that I was humiliated in front of his disciples. I had broken the peer relationship by sharing a dream like experience and becoming vulnerable to a master. Yet again another inner circle experience had occurred. Humiliation was used to determine the sincerity and trust of a potential disciple. I had seen enough. I wrote one last letter thanking Llewellyn for the meeting and never heard from him again.

My last meeting was by happenstance. I met an old local Indian man named Mr. Rao. He taught yoga at a community center and had a small following. He seemed humble and took no money and seemed uninterested in creating much attention around himself. Mr. Rao came to my house for dinner and decided to read my palm and tell me something about myself. He did not read my palm at all, but simply took my hand and looked at me in the eyes. He said the following:

“You were a prodigy in your youth. Had you developed your material and spiritual self simultaneously at an early age, you would have achieved great things by the age of 27, but you did not receive proper guidance and got distracted in the spiritual path you took. Because you did not develop materially at the same time, your efforts in spirituality were fruitless. You lost that chance and must now focus on your material development. By the age of 47, you again will start to find your spiritual and material ballance. You then must develop both aspects of yourself in tandem for some time. You will truly succeed and by the age of 54 will have achieved all that is possible from a balanced existence. Guidance will come to you and you do not need to seek it out.”

It was as if Mr. Rao was using my own words, not his. Intuitively I knew that I had to focus on my career, which was starting to blossom, and somehow deal with an incredibly unhealthy and abusive family life that was evolving in my home.

I had finally come to the end of my quest of eastern spirituality only to find out that I had to develop my western existence and embrace who I already was. I focused the next several years on entrepreneurial efforts, developing my executive management skills and starting my own technology companies. I saw great success materialy. All along, my spiritual quest continued, not in a spiritual setting, but in corporate America. I saw demons and saints in the corporate world. It was there that I finally met a handful of people who knew how to handle positions of power in a selfless manner.

I realized that power, whether spiritual, political or corporate, is power. Humans in positions of power are easily corrupted by it, be it spiritual or corporate. The likelihood of discovering a person who is not corrupted by power is equally possible in a spiritual organization as it is in a corporate setting. Inner circles are created for the same reason in both types of organizations. I found at least the corporate world far more honest about the inner circle’s purpose. The hierarchy has a purpose and is know by all. A President has a function. When they cease to perform, they move on. If they violate ethics they are removed. Unfortunately this does not occur in spiritual organizations. My spiritual quest continued in the offices of corporate America for quite some time. It was several years before I took Ranaji’s advice and re-explored my roots in Christianity.

Lessons In Power Part 7: My Recovery From SRCM

Sahaj Marg is a system of energy manipulation and power. The basis of the practice is to create a craving, or sense of urgency for God realization in the heart. The disciple performs a daily cleaning process using their own will force, to remove the effects of experiences that cause impressions that limit ones spiritual approach. The Guru/Preceptor further uses their own will force to push these spiritual impurities out of the disciple. Transmission is a transfer of spiritual energy through the will force of the Master or a Preceptor to the recipient to establish more advanced spiritual conditions in the disciple.

This entire system revolves around all participants using their own will force to achieve spiritual attainment at a rate that is accelerated compared to ones natural evolution. While Sahaj Marg stands for “Natural Path” it is in fact a practice that cheats nature by using the force of will to accelerate ones natural development. It is based on accepting that one starts from a place of spiritual inadequacy and requires the external will force of others to rectify the situation. The problem that occurred in me practicing Sahaj Marg, was the constant reinforcement of the need to push to a higher level of attainment, no to mention the constant reinforcement of spiritual inadequacy. At the same time humility is required to keep the ego in check. Sahaj Marg solves this problem by establishing the need for a living Master to surrender to.

A forced craving is established within that causes one to become obsessed with spiritual development which diverts ones priorities away from other worldly activities. This is often mistaken for non-attachment, but is in fact the establishment of a new attachment to the achievement of spiritual power through the dependence on the will force of a living Master.

Recovering from spiritual obsession developed under this system is an involved and time consuming process and my case was no exception. I continued to desire spiritual attainment after leaving SRCM and explored spiritual practices that involve manipulating ones inner energy and power to that end. Having cut off my association with any Guru, I was on my own, which turned out to be my saving grace. Every effort to manipulate power for my own spiritual gain resulted in failure. I started to practice Raja Yoga breathing exercises and immediately contracted bronchitis, which discouraged me from continuing.

My experience with the Golden Sufi organization, being publicly humiliated for being associated with a practice that had spiritual attainment as it’s goal was another shock. Meeting Ranaji Saheb, Lalaji’s disciple was another revealing experience. His recommendation that I explore my Christian roots, caused me to question further whether having a goal of ultimate spiritual attainment at all was a worthy endeavor.

As I proceeded in my business career, I started to notice some successful people leveraged their success as good stewards to humanity, while others selfishly pillaged what they could for personal gain. This reflected back to my experience in SRCM, seeing how some “advanced” abyhasis appeared very selfish an self serving, yet others did not.

I started to learn about the boundaries that one must place around oneself to protect against malicious attacks. Such attacks can come from the financial, physical, emotional and spiritual levels. One of these important boundaries was learning how and when to trust another person. When one achieves a level of attainment on any level, those who desire to topple or steal their attainment often attack them. This is equally prevalent in spiritual groups as it is in corporate and secular environments.

My practice of Sahaj Marg, and the resulting dependence and trust in a Master at such an early age caused me to not properly develop my boundaries with the world around me. This became a harsh lesson as I learned to deal with an abusive and mentally ill spouse and the Machiavellian politics of corporations and venture capitalists.

From my experiences after departing SRCM, I learned that the Inner Circle created by Gurus, is in fact a useful tool for self-preservation. A Guru of course has lots to loose, and must only trust those who have completely submitted to him. On a personal level, I learned that my trust must be earned, not simply due to repeated association, but by observing how individuals around me reacted to difficult situations. Under such pressure, one shows their true self. I learned the importance of establishing my own trusted inner circle, which to this day is a small group of individuals. I also learned that the strength of having others one can trust, establishes a base for ones own actions and contributions to the world. Inner Circles like anything can be used as a valid setting of boundaries, or as a base for power and manipulation. My experiences outside of SRCM helped to define these differences and determine exactly how I should use this concept to protect myself without falling into the lure of power and imposing that power on others.

The most difficult Sahaj Marg artifact to eliminate was the sense of urgency to become a more spiritually evolved person. This urgency ingrained in Sahaj Marg abhyasis reinforces a low self-image and a desire to overcome ones limitations through the dependence on the strength of others. The humility of this dependence on others is in fact not humility at all, but self-deprecation. Left unchecked for years on end, it creates a behavior pattern that assumes false security that the Master will eventually correct ones faults and one will achieve spiritual greatness.

My re-examination into Christianity led me to the Catholic Church. I found people there who practice silent prayer, and re-learned Jesus’ message of forgiving ones self and others for their humanity and non-judgment. Meeting regular people doing charitable work within the church was the most inspiring message for me in my recovery of a power based spiritual practice. These people did not pretend to be anything other than what they were, humans with imperfections, but through their imperfect but sincere action they did extraordinary things.

After 15 years of struggling with my addictions to spiritual power, I sat in prayerful meditation one day. I felt restless, not very inspired, no swirling energy around the heart, head or central point at the base of the skull. In spite of this I felt my being. I accepted my spiritual being as it was, a gift from God, sacred in all its mediocrity. I suddenly felt free to accept my spiritual self for who I was. All sense of inadequacy faded, and I realized that the true subtle condition that is spoken about in SRCM has nothing to do with attainment through will force and power, but through acceptance of ones self. This can be achieved in an instant without the dependence on a Master, but it does require one to accept and live the life that is laid before them. True humility and charity is developed in real life as one learns their own humanity and human limitations.

A long path was taken to get me back to where I started at the tender age of 19 when I was first introduced to SRCM. I finally learned that it was ok to be me - that my lack of spiritual prowess was in fact an illusion. Accepting this allowed me to finally start my spiritual practice - the practice of accepting my life and living it, accepting my humanity and being it. The lessons in power learned from the process, however will serve me for the rest of my life.


HistorySahaj Marg was introduced as a revised method of Raja Yoga by Ram Chandra of Shajahanpur, India in the 1940s. Ram Chandra, referred to as Babuji, was a young disciple of Ram Chandra of Fategar, no relation, and affectionately referred to as Lalaji. Lalaji and his brother were a disciples of a muslim Sufi master who taught them the Sufi method of meditation and acknowledged its historical foundation in Vedic meditation practices.

Being young Babuji visited Lalaji only a couple times, and spent most of his time practicing meditation at a distance from Lalaji and corresponding with him by letters. When Lalaji passed away, he left many sincere disciples behind. It remains a controversy as to whether Lalaji intended an organization to be formed around his legacy or chose to have a single successor. His Sufi Master clearly had no organization, nor did he delegate anyone his sole successor, nor did Lalaji establish any organization around himself or his teachings. His brother, considered a spiritual twin also left a legacy of disciples, who also appear not to have claimed sole successor-ship nor created any organization. Yet, Babuji claims to have gotten direct orders in a dream from Lalaji to establish the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), and claim himself as Lalaji’s sole successor.

This history leaves many loose ends. What is known is the series of events that proceeded as Babuji established the SRCM and began to attract very dedicated and evolved disciples into his inner circle. The most notable was the scholar Dr. Vadarachari, who died unexpectedly leaving a void in Babuji’s Inner Circle.

The practice of Sahaj Marg, Babuji’s reformed Raja Yoga, devoid of any Sufi references, was intended to be accessible to householders, and was not to be associated with any specific religion. It was a method for the disciple or abhyasi (aspirant) to have direct experience with God.

In the early 1980s, Babuji passed away, leaving an embattled organization behind. This spawned a series vicious legal challenges between senior disciples, fighting over who controlled the Mission. Parthasarthi Rajagopalachari (Chari), appeared to have the most credibility with his legal paperwork and legacy of accompanying Babuji on his various trips abroad, and was adept at early on establishing himself as the new President and Successor to Babuji. Splinter groups were spawned revolving around the son of Dr. Vadarachari, and Babuji’s son, Umesh among others. At the same time, competing organizations founded around Lalaji and his brother were also established.

Root Cause of the Failure of SRCM
Yoga acknowledges the power of thought, that thought focused on a thing, gives that thing power. The Yogic principles are based on the concept that creation is the result of an initial thought from the Ultimate, and that each human being a spark of the same initial thought also has their own creation spawned from their own thoughts.

SRCM promotes a process of meditation on the heart, a cleaning meditation done in the evening, and a prayer done at bedtime that acknowledges the living Master as the goal of life. The intent, was that thought, redirected towards the divine within would promote a more spiritually evolved human being. While the practice is supposed to empower the disciple to experience God and Reality directly, this is done under a veil of complete and total dependence and on and obedience to a living Guru. The danger with this type of practice is that if the Guru is not truly selfless, it becomes a power based relationship that benefits the Guru more than it benefits the disciple.

Core to the problem that has evolved as SRCM has progressed, is a culture that is fostered around spiritual attainment. Babuji established that a new vista of human attainment was possible through his practice, referred to as the Central Region. The resulting culture around attaining the Central Region has established a very dangerous precedent. Disciples, who are supposed to be reducing ego, are developing a self centered desire to achieve this spiritual goal and earn entry into a Brighter World at a highly evolved level in the afterlife. Exclusivity established in the SRCM culture caused disciples to believe that only through the SRCM and the support of the living Master could such high attainment be possible. This dependence on the Mission and Master promoted a competitive atmosphere where people vie for attention and favor of the Master in order to achieve their selfish spiritual goals and serve the Mission at all costs to self and family in order to gain spiritual favors. Lost in this culture, is any sense of selfless charity. All selfless actions revolve around serving the Mission and are in fact not selfless at all. The disciple assumes that their “selfless” contribution to the Mission will be rewarded with spiritual attainment and entry into the Brighter World. Clearly something is expected in return for unquestioning obedience to the Mission and Master.

In fact the very principles within the Yogic traditions around realities being created by thought, have been used to create a culture of psuedo-selfless disciples, who serve a Mission and a Master, in expectation of getting something in return. A grand deception results where the disciple believes they are promoting selflessness, but in fact, are selfishly sacrificing what they can to achieve something perceived as better for themSELVES. In the end, the ego develops a new veil. While the Master blames his disciples year after year in public admonishment, about the lack of progress, in fact, the grand deception itself has created its own barrier. Disciples have been trained to selfishly strive to attain something by serving a Master and the Mission that hungrily requires new disciples yearly.

SRCM has in fact created a culture that has completely deviated from the very principles that Sahaj Marg promotes. The root cause appears to be the Mission itself and a singular Master who claims sole successor-ship, without peer, and cannot be questioned. Disciples are encouraged to cease questioning the contradictions and in fact are told to ignore them as they are of this world, and it is only the next world that they should worry about.
Like the Wizard of Oz, they are told to ignore the man behind the curtain and focus on the light show before them, on the Master who will grant them their selfish wish to gain entry into the Central Region and be assured access to the Brighter World upon death.

Invertendo Revisited
Invertendo is a principle that has been aggressively promoted with in SRCM to explain every contradiction that one comes across in spirituality. The root of this principle comes from Lalaji’s book “Truth Eternal” where he claims that by starting from an ignorant state, we strive for knowledge, but after pursuing knowledge comes true ignorance.

In my own practice I have learned that in fact we start where we end. In fact, all this attainment and lust for achievement, once exhausted, resolves back to the very point of simply being, with the love of God in one’s heart. The journey itself appears only to serve the function of wearing down of one’s ego until one returns to the ignorant state that one started the journey with, eager to be part of God’s mystery. In fact, the Path or “Marg” itself is an illusion. This explains the contradiction of the Master bowing before the beginning disciple. Perhaps it is because the innocence that exists in at the start is corrupted and lost along the path, only to be regained when one finally gives up all desire for spiritual attainment, and simply desires to be near God for God’s sake, for Love’s sake. Perhaps, all along the disciple was never very far away to begin with.

This brings into question why so much focus and pressure is put on growing the numbers of disciples. If a new diciples bring their own personal power and surrender it to the Mission/Master, and provide their own thoughts to empower the Mission/Master, we have a process in which a Master can gather power and focus thoughts towards himself and his Mission to strengthen his own personal power. The most insidious concept of Invertendo could be that while by outward appearances, the diciple comes to the Mission/Master to get something, in fact the real power transfer is from the disciple to the Mission/Master.

The fundamental mistake made within the SRCM is the obsession with attaining a spiritual goal “The Central Region” rather than simply promoting “being” which in fact IS all that is left when one has achieved the elusive “Central Region” as, apparently any sense of self is all but lost and only identity or “being” remains. Sadly this fixation on attainment coupled with un-questioning obedience to a singular Mission and living Master creates the very scenario being seen in the history of the SRCM. The symptoms of this include:

1. Lack of true selfless charity

2. Selfish in-fighting amongst Inner Circle members of the Mission

3. Struggle between Inner Circle members for control of the Mission

4. Sacrifice of careers and family for the sake of the Mission

5. Intolerance of debate or independent questioning of the Mission

6. Intolerance of other religions - especially Christianity

7. Fixation on myths rather than direct experiences.

The last point is the most destructive of all as it degrades SRCM into a religion - Religion of the worst kind, one that has no checks and balances as it is controlled by an Absolute Leader who cannot be questioned. Propagation of these myths increase as tangible results from the practices fade. Myths include channeled messages from the Masters in the Brighter World, stories of Masters cavorting with the likes of Krishna and Kabir, and edicts from Masters delivered in dreams declaring the current living Master as “The Master of the Universe”.
As myths replace actual experiences, disciples thoughts are deflected away from their own experiences and towards these myths, which make them their own reality. The very yogic principles of thought focused on a singular thing, giving it power, has been turned upside down to establish power in Myths that now become a reality of their own with the collective thoughts of disciples focused on them.
SRCM, initially established as an organization that promotes a simple spiritual practice of God Realization that can be practiced by the common householder, has now become a power based organization using yogic principles to create a new Mythology and as a result a new religion. The question is, with all the divisions between factions, cultures and belief systems today, does the world really need yet another religion?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Identifying Guru Exploitation

What I am posting below is not intended to be a cynical rant or to single out SRCM specifically. In fact many of the things I mention below are actual tools used by capable Leaders to run corporations and organizations around the world.

I am outlining these Seven Techniques as a way of leveling the playing field. It is important for every individual involved in any organization to discrimiate between necessary techniques used by good leaders to achieve a noble end, verses exploiting techniques for the drunken lust for power and control.

It is not a bad practice to review every organization one belongs in order to determine if un-warranted exploitation is occuring. I encourage those within SRCM to examine these techniques used in their organization and ask themselves if a "light structure" has been created for the achievement of high spiritual ideals, or if a autocratic power structure has been established to manipulate and control the masses.

I leave this determination up to each individual.

Seven Techniques Used By Gurus to Control The Masses

Establish High Ideals

• Establish noble, high sounding principles, such as selfless service, closeness to God, and brotherly/sisterly love.

• Insist that your teachings are free and the birthright of all.

• Demonstrate charity in a highly visible manner.

Define and Enforce Exclusivity in the Organization

• Every Guru must have an exclusive hook to differentiate themselves from others.

• The exclusive nature of the system or Guru must be re-emphasized at every opportunity.

• Disciples are trained to also extol the virtues of the system’s exclusivity in every conversation.

Exploit a Higher Authority

• Designate a “Higher Authority” that can be attributed to for literally everything.

• Higher Authority must be easily identifiable by disciples. Abstract higher authorities such as “God” are generally not as effective as a dead person.

• It is critical that the Guru can claim to be in direct communication with this Higher Authority.

• The Guru’s example of love and servitude to this Higher Authority serves as an example to disciples as to how to treat their Guru.

• Miracles, which happen naturally in an emotionally charged environment, can be attributed to this Higher Authority

• Disciples will naturally transfer all things credited to the Higher Authority to their living Guru.

Establish and Maintain an Inner Circle

• Guru creates contentious environment around themselves for people to earn their trust.

• Those who fight the hardest and most effectively for inner circle status are rewarded with positions of authority and grandeur.

• The Guru must treat inner circle members with strictness and humiliation when necessary to maintain their loyalty and subservience.

• The Hierarchy established through the Inner Circle is a critical tool for a Guru to maintain exclusive control as the organization grows.

Foster the Image of Humility

• The Guru will exploit any ailments or physical injuries to get sympathy by silently suffering.

• If no physical ailments exist, the Guru can use exhaustion from serving his disciples as an ailment.

• The Guru does not directly complain about ailments, but uses the Inner Circle to propagate stories of his humble suffering for the cause.

Establish and Maintain Total Control

• Demand total devotion and trust

• Guru uses their own total devotion and trust to their “Higher Authority” as an example

• Blame all disciples failings on not having sufficient faith in the Higher Authority or lack of dedication to the practice.

Reap the Benefits

• Establish an organization to hold and manage wealth collected.

• Exploit that wealth through the organization, not directly

• Enjoy the services of devoted disciples as their expression of devotion to the Higher Authority.


Background: A French speaking ex-abhyasi named Terrine posted a quesiton to me about how to deal with her "scalding" experience within the SRCM. She has left the organization and is exploring an offshoot organization called the ISRC . I am posting my translated reply to her after it is reviewed by native speakers on the Blog where she posted the question. Here is my response in English:

It saddens me that you had such a bad experience in SRCM. ISRC is a new organization that I am not that familiar with, but I have met a few of the people from India who run the organization. While I do not think they have bad intentions, they are little different than you. They are hurt by the direction SRCM has taken and chose to react by starting an alternative organization.

There are two things I would say to this:

The first thing will cause many to disagree, but I’ll say it anyway. We must remember that Babuji did indeed establish SRCM and chose Chari as the one to lead it after his death. Since Babuji is no longer living, it is quite easy to assign him God status and imply that his intentions were perfect, but in reality we cannot criticize the direction of SRCM without acknowledging Babuji’s responsibility.
Secondly, I do not believe that this planet needs any more organizations to teach the basic spiritual principles. SRCM was established to market Sahaj Marg to the masses. It has evolved into an organization of people who spend far more time worrying about their level of spiritual attainment rather than becoming better human beings. SRCM trains people to become overly concerned about their spiritual development.

In reality, spiritual development happens naturally when you live the life that God put before you. Guidance comes from many places when one lives their life with a sincere desire to grow spiritually. I have found the example of common people doing extraordinary things far more instructive to my development than any of the staged theatrics I witnessed from any Guru.
I would suggest that SRCM is a drug that people become addicted to and organizations like ISRC are the drug treatment programs. In reality, it is important to understand that it takes time for the influence of SRCM to wear off. Organizations like ISRC still promote the addiction and as a result, does not help a person eliminate the dependency.

When I left the SRCM, I explored similar organizations. Ultimately, I found it necessary to take a break from all spiritual organizations and practices in order to put things in perspective. We do need to find a spiritual community to associate with, and seek out guidance. I would warn against any “guide” who tries to claim that they are God themselves or have the only path to God. I get my guidance now from a variety of mentors. I also try to do my part to give back to the world for the guidance and direction that I receive.

In the Sufi tradition that Lalaji came from, the teacher was treated like a member of the family. He would live with his disciples like a grandfather. Unfortunately Babuji did not spend much time with Lalaji and did not experience this aspect of Lalaji first hand. I met others who did, and they do not believe that Lalaji ever wanted an organization like SRCM to be created. My suggestion to you, is that if ISRC helps you with your pain, then participate, but use caution. If you are able to remove yourself completely to let the addictive aspects of SRCM leave your body, that is the best approach. After you have put things in perspective, you can then decide whether to join another organization or simply get on with your life.

I pray for you and others like you - that you may find a spiritually fulfilling life.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Spiritual Parables: Body Building vs. Farming

The Body Builder:

A young man strives to be physically strong so he seeks a Champion who will help him develop big muscles. He finds a champion in body building and learns how to modify his diet and lifestyle to grow big muscles. His Champion is demanding and mean. He expects to be served and waited upon by his students. The young man perseveres and achieves physical greatness and becomes like his Champion teacher. His obsession with his physique expands into every aspect of his life. He becomes selfish and very competitive with other body builders. Only his system of body building can achieve the optimal muscle mass in a human being and only he has achieved the highest level of attainment. All others are inferior. He becomes the new Champion and establishes a school for aspiring young men looking to be large and intimidating. They seek training with the new Champion because only through him can they achieve optimum muscle mass. Eventually this new Champion grows old and dies, leaving only his legacy as a man with big muscles behind.

The Farmer:

A young man grows up on the farm. From a young age he worked on his family farm stacking hay bales, branding cattle and working the fields. He developed tremendous physical strength. He grew up and inherited his family farm and became a successful Farmer. Great famine spread in the world making food scarce. The Farmer worked hard to grow crops to feed his family and others. He donated milk from his dairy to the local orphanage and provided crops and livestock for soup kitchens that feed the poor. He was active in his community. One day a storm came through and a tree fell on his neighbor’s house trapping a young child inside. The child was bleeding to death and needed to be set free in order to live. The man, being strong from back breaking farm labor came to the rescue of this child and using his strength lifted the tree with brute force, saving the child’s life. The Farmer grew old and passed away. The community sadly honored the passing of a great man who used his naturally developed strengths to serve his family and community and save the life of a child when no one else had the strength to do so.

Sahaj Marg was supposed to be the path of the Farmer described above. Grihastha Ashrama, or Ashram of the Householder was the term used to describe it. Here spiritual development occurs naturally in as a result of ones daily life in conjunction with prayer and silent meditation. It strikes me that SRCM has become an organization of aspiring, bodybuilders rather than householders who develop their spiritual skills through service to their families and community.

I hope and pray that I am incorrect in my observations. How foolish it would to be worry about the size of one’s muscles rather than finding meaningful ways to use them…