Projecting one’s whole autonomy onto Sathya Sai Baba
Posted by robertpriddy on April 9, 2010
All Sathya Sai Baba followers who visit his ashrams have always had to queue, sit and wait almost endlessly before he appears – let alone before they get the chance of an interview, which almost no one does any longer due to his invalidism. Many pray and wait for years on end for the ‘Lord and Master’, and ‘spiritual seekers’ who travel across continents are all constantly hope for some form of personal attention, eye contact, some words… then more and more of the same. All this is shared by all followers, excluding very important persons, such as heads of state, royalty or the super rich and famous, who mostly get comparative red carpet treatment.
Sathya Sai Baba used to walk about very slowly, making gestures (which many people took as personal messages to them!) and when he looked even in a person’s general direction, they took this as a blessing! Not a few report how waves of happiness, bliss, even ecstasy floods through them, tears come to their eyes. If he smiles at them or takes a letter from them, it seems to them that they at last have confirmation of being personally acceptable to God himself. In most cases, these emotions are the culmination of a very long period of approaching through meditation on him, prayers to him, letters sent (often with the writer’s most private thoughts ‘in advance’) after much reading of books which all praise him beyond the clouds, videos which seem to prove he is a divinity, hearing miracle and amazing healing stories galore, and making diverse efforts to live according to his directions, do everything in his name.
Many followers sacrifice much time and money, put up with all manner of difficulties and disappointments on the way, meanwhile meeting many other persons telling of wonderful (subjective) experiences seen through their own faith. But by then they have already become highly open to suggestion (becoming what are called ‘good hypnotic subjects’). Despite this, or precisely because of it, various persons have been surprised, as was I, upon first observing him show himself (i.e. “give his holy darshan“) because. he seemed just too ordinary. But then, one already ‘knows’ that it could just not be true…has he not told them not to be deceived by his short stature, for in reality he holds the entire universe in his hands?
Longing and Yearning are ‘projective’: The intensity developed by followers’ desires and beliefs amount to psychological projections. Projection is a very complex process with many aspects and can vary in strength, scope and content. Nonetheless it is a common occurrence among followers of all idols, especially those who have created an aura of holiness or wisdom around themselves, by whatever means. Even one small apparent paranormal event – taken as the longed-for Sai leela or small miracle – is enough to set one self-reinforcing ones indoctrination to last for life! This may take the form of statement like the following which was sent to me by a colleague at some stage as an illustration of how mental projection words in those who have invested much time and energy without noticeable attention from Sathya Sai Baba:
|“I vividly recall looking at his form with utter peace and no thoughts. He stopped and turned and gave me this amazing smile, piercing me with his eyes and I felt this incredible warmth enter me. “What did he do that for,” I thought, on that day three years ago. Today, the penny dropped. Thought has to stop.” by Sai Baba devotee Christopher (Chris) Parnell – Australian Sathya Sai Organization|
The dropping penny – after first awakening new thoughts – evidently causes thought to deteriorate – and that is precisely the programme Sai Baba sets out – overcome one’s thoughts through mantras, prayer, bhajan singing and meditation. Kill the mind – supposedly letting mindless ‘universal consciousness’ take over! I have observed through many years observing others how their minds tend to drift without incisiveness or efforts at improvement, getting ever more uncritical and unreliable. Impressionable persons who have been actively indoctrinating (or ‘brain-washing’) themselves for a long time within the cocoon of beliefs and mostly within the circle of other believers… especially in the otherworldly and unrealistic ashram mental environment where all one’s wildest hopes may (but most likely will not) come true.
Powerful projection reinforcements: Projecting all kinds of desires and ones best imaginings onto Sathya Sai Baba and his circle, one produces a self-conversion by oneself. These circumstances are known to be conducive to sudden healing and many other extra-normal effects, but these always prove to be partial and temporary… the enthusiasm wears off after the famous ‘honeymoon’ period is past. Such phenomena are well known, far from being limited to Sai Baba or other Indian gurus – consider Billy Graham, Lourdes. Pastor Moon and literally thousands of other personality cults. One develops a partly delusional world-view and can then become easily manipulated by powerful forms of suggestion of the kind otherwise called ‘hypnotic’. These can cause considerable distortions of sensory perception, even though one does not enter an actual sleep-like trance (viz. Derren Brown). The intensity of the ‘projection’ makes likely not only changes in outlook, but a new sense of purpose and energy. All one needed was a catalyst (a relevant object or person to project onto in the specific case), and that is how idol-worship and personality cults work.
More on mental-emotional projection and Sai Baba’s methods of using it to come.