Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Does ‘Forgiveness’ Mean Letting Offenders Ride Rough Shod Over Us?

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 8, 2010

In a list of systemically misleading topics, ‘forgiveness’ would have to rank near the top. Wooly notions about it all too readily allow perpetrators to go free and without challenge. They can remain perpetrators, and their victims left in abject circumstance. Those who advocate passive types of forgiveness too often invite themselves to be trodden upon. Still more, their modeling of a behaviour creates contexts which allow others around them to be trodden upon, as well.

I view foregiveness as the cultivation of an inner attitude, where – while still attending to what one conceives to be civil and ethical duties – one takes daily steps towards achieving an inner peace, and moves away from first reactions, such as thirsting for and implementing revenge. This inner attitude is far removed from notions such as peace at all costs, or the fool’s ‘paradise’ of avoidance of issues, of being in denial, of being lovey-dovey and wishy-washy, and of retreating to euphoric states.

I heard the Dalai Lama speak well on the subject of forgiveness, and made notes. See:  

Dalai Lama: Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 15, 2007

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The Public Petition   

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization   

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Psychology, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Theology, Theosophy, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Most Former Sathya Sai Devotees Respond Without Hatred

Posted by Barry Pittard on September 26, 2009

Former followers of Sathya Sai Baba have noticed recurring features in the notes of Sai Baba defenders who write to us. The most common, by far, is reference to his purported miracles. This tendency is evident in writers whether more sophisticated or uneducated. This despite the advice of a great many spiritual teachers (including Sathya Sai Baba) of various traditions who say not to get hung up by phenomena such as miracles.

Another common trait revealed is extreme attachment for Sathya Sai Baba’s form, which he himself has often also referred to as an obstacle to spiritual development.

As pointed out in the article  Reply To Sathya Sai Baba Defender, most former devotees – leaving aside those few who have much-to-be regretted bad manners – do not respond nastily.

Two writings that would invite the description: grace and self-restraint whilst under fire are by Timothy Conway Ph.D. and Al Rahm (both former prominent leaders in the Sathya Sai Baba movement). See:

The crucial John Hislop letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya’s defender Joe Moreno

Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter

When those who are now former devotee were engaged in their transitional discovery process – for example, speaking to individuals and famililies with shocking accounts of abuse by Sathya Sai Baba and/or some of his core servitors – they came up with the same questions that some devotees would now aim at them. And, at an earlier stage, when unquestioning devotees, they used the same defences of Sathya Sai Baba when questions were raised by others.

Here is a quite typical note from a defender of Sathya Sai Baba, and the reply from one who is no longer partial to him. The writer had written a number of emails to the recipient, who did not retaliate to any of the points. Some of the language of the other emails was couched more unkindly than anything in the following. The former devotee responded because of the basic decency and sincerity, nontheless, of the person who wrote:

“All your articles written on your websites ( Anti-Sai Baba) seem to be an old type of fairy tales similar to what we have been seeing as a kid in our kindergarten days. The difference in presentation lies in its depth, of hate and malice. The idea of molest is a great hoax to discredit Swami, that’s for sure. When you compare Baba’s materialization of vibuthi and other manifestation as a stage show similar to what magician can do, is very puzzling. Swami’s divine manifestation of vibuthis and other religious artifacts etc;  in various part of the world is a fact. How do you answer to that? There is no need for anyone to cheat on this. It’s a world wide phenomena going on for decades. It’s not a simple paranormal activity. What about prayers? How do you answer to those prayers which Swami has responded to his devotees? How could this be possible, if not for His divine grace? Do not make sweeping allegations. Swami teaches love, not hate. Do take care”

Response (by former longtime devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, who had considerable responsibilities in his service)

“I think that I understand your harsh judgements on us and the driving of very important questions. For many former devotees have had to raise, amid great anguish, the same issues that you raise. Many of them spent years of great devotion for Sathya Sai Baba and dedicated service in the various wings of his organization. How there can be such an incredible anomaly between the uplifting experiences which you have mentioned – which many former devotees have also experienced – and the stark opposites is a very great mystery.

However, what may appear as hatred in the eyes of one devoted is not hatred. It is speaking out the facts as we have best been able to determine them.No doubt,reading such claims can be very upsetting for devotees. That is most understandable. Some have viewed it as a challenge to their own sadhana of calmness and steadfastness.

One of Sathya Sai Baba’s key teachings – and that of many spiritual teachers down the millennia, as you will be aware from your 34 years of sadhana – is to learn to distinguish the form from the formless. When we human beings become defensive about the form, does it not mean that we are very attached to it?

I notice in your prior emails that you have made much of the miracles, and yet Sathya Sai Baba, in his spoken words, has placed a very small value on them. Do not we human beings also become very attached to such manifestations, which are rupa (embodiment), as well.

Do you not think that many former devotees pray? And have lovely spiritual experiences? If we were to be motivated by hatred, do you think that I would write to you (just as other former devotees write to devotees who have written to us) with patience and respectfulness?

Many sweeping allegations, including your own, have been made about large numbers of former devotees, including, I may repeat, some who were important and much-respected leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization, who continue to be loved and respected in their various walks of life”.

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Dalai Lama: Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 15, 2007

dalai-lama-in-australia-june-2007.jpgAt the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Australia, July 14, 2007, the 14th Dalai Lama spoke to a capacity, 15000 audience. Several large screens throughout the auditorium meant that people were able to see him close up. I had the privilege to be there.

Someone remarked that the Dalai Lama was “radically informal”. It was true – he had a great naturalness, straightforwardness and simplicity. There were also  large crowds outside watching on a large television screen outside the Brisbane Entertainment Center.

Forgiveness does not entail forgetfulness

First, I shall single out one of the points he made, because it can throw light on the motivations of many former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba around the world. Most are not motivated by hatred against Sai Baba or leaders of his Sathya Sai Organization but believe it important to state their case as best they can, if in very difficult circumstances.

This point of the Dalai Lama’s – about forgiveness – is made, like all of his points, in many wisdom traditions, yet it seems to forever need to be raised and clarified, simple a point although it is.

Anyone who knows those individuals around the world who have dissented from Sai Baba – many of them having been deeply committed to his work for decades until they resigned or simply walked out – knows that most of those individuals speak out decidedly not because of hatred and revenge. It is a simplistic notion that speaking out about crimes and other wrong-doings has to to equate to hatred and revenge. Even if, since none of us is perfect, we err, it is important for us all to look for some better resolution of the issues. Some of the insights gained in the ‘Truth Commission’ processes may afford a guide for groups who are ready to reform themselves and seek compassionate solutions. See e.g., http://www.truthcommission.org

A society in which serious allegations are not brought out will remain a terribly crippled one. It will be one of secrecy, and lack compassion. It will not address the difficulties that so sorely need to be raised. China is far from alone in this, and we each need to address our own country’s failures to be a genuinely just society. However, China, as many cults do, has a long record of severe suppression, secrecy and violation of human rights. It has strongly protested to the Australian government, attempting to get it to stop the Dalai Lama’s visit. It would like us to forget him, and forget its atrocities, including enforced colonization and genocide. It can no more say sorry for these and make amends – to name but one of many Chinese government human outrages, for its violent mass killings in Tienanmen Square in 1989 (see Wikipedia reference HERE) than my own country’s government of John Howard can say sorry to our own wonderful, but tragically decimated indigenous people. Howard and the federal Opposition Leader, a former diplomat, Kevin Rudd, who speaks fluent mandarin Chinese, have both vacilated severely about whether they would meet the Dalai Lama. Most suddenly and curiously, neither appeared to know what their diary was doing but in fact, according to various media reports, they were both locked in consulting their realpolitik options – namely the trade issue, since China is Australia’s biggest trading partner. (I have dealt with this issue, from the perspective of our own interfaces with a number of governments in relation to Sai Baba HERE.  Many so-called ‘democratic’ governments prefer narrow pragmatism over humanitarian conscience). 

What the Dalai Lama has succeeded in doing, and what a few others like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson and so on have so powerfully sought to do is to rise above hatred and vengeful, violent retaliation. (It may be good if we all start making a list and add still many more role model names, such as the Myhero project has sought to do at this page HERE). They have struggled on the great scale just as the rest of us have to struggle on the smaller scale. Not one of these leaders failed to speak out against the evils that had been perpetrated – such as those of war, empire, colonialism – and the disgraceful and terrible means used to realize them. Remembering evils can be graceful, especially when we have community support, and personal methods of self-discipline and induction of genuine calmness – such that we do not visit them on others as doctrine.

Forgiveness: Not losing compassion for the other person

Answering a question from the audience, the Dalai Lama distinguished between forgiveness and forgetfulness. He said that forgiveness is logically not possible with the absence of forgetting. To forgive, you need to remember what it is that you are forgiving. Forgiveness means not losing compassion for the other person. Sooner or later that individual, if they have have committed an offence, has to face the consequencies. Forgiveness does not mean taking no action. The important thing is that you do not let hatred overtake you.

‘Secular Ethics’

The Dalai Lama said he had nothing to offer but common sense. His own religion was his own private matter. His thoughts expressed publically may be termed ‘secular ethics’. He had not much to offer, except commonsense.

He was now nearly 72 and since 16 years of age has had lots of difficulties, like the loss of his country. As he tours the world there is always sad news. But it is important to find a way, although recognizing the sadness for what it is, not to detain oneself with it but instead to establish a calm mind. To some, this attitude seems like being careless. But it is not, because a conflicted mind will bring still more troubles. Take problems seriously by all means, of course, but on the objective intellectual level rather than on the emotionally conflictful level. One needs to  look at things objectively, and handle things more realistically, being neither over joyful nor over sad.

Happiness is the very purpose of life

Feelings of compassion and kindness need to be implemented through action. People need to feel a part of society, and self-confident.  We are social ‘animals’. Survival depends on a sense of community. Positive emotions are very good for us, and negative emotions very bad and destructive. The more compassion the better is society’s functioning. This recognition does not belong peculiarly to any religion.

Religious answers often divide

Compassion is very commonly shared by people everywhere since we received it from our time in the mother’s womb and from her as we developed as we developed from our earliest stages as human beings. If morality and ethics were based on adhering to this or that religion, serious questions arise. For example – what religion? Many answers to this are very divisive of humankind. What? Six hundred million human beings should all follow a just one religion and no other. It is not possible. The secular teaching of values is the commonsense solution.

Force has been the typical answer

Compassion cannot be a weapon. If you try to eliminate people’s viewpoints by force the hatred will pass down the generations. Today, one Bin Laden, in ten years 10 Bin Ladens. The Dalai Lama told this in a letter of condolence to President George W. Bush on the day after 9/11. He got a strong laugh from the audience when he said that he has met George Bush and is scheduled to meet him again soon, and finds him individually a very nice man but that “his philosophy and mine are – different”.

Destroying another person is destroying yourself

External disarmament is important but the real need is for internal disarmanant. We need to make these notions familiar to children in school, so that they can confidently say to their parents – this trouble needs to be solved through dialog, not through conflict. Consider the other person as a part of yourself. Destroying another person is destroying yourself.

A questioner asked the Dalai Lama what have been the his greatest joy and and greatest sadness. He replied that there have been so many such moments that it is hard to pick but that two of those that stand out that taken together were very important revelations to him came close together. When he was sixteen he was overjoyed to have obtained his Ph.D. Even as this happened, the Chinese occupation of Tibet was proving very difficult for his people. There was terrible fear of the Chinese soldiers. Over half a million people died, many of starvation, many killed. In March 1958, many Tibetans, including himself, escaped. The experience felt very “Up. Down” but it enforced a sense of reality.

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The Public Petition   

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization   

Posted in Morality, New Age, Opinion, Protest, Rationalism, Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »