Yaani Drucker: ‘The Ego’ misunderstood and the doctrine of self-nihilation
Posted by robertpriddy on February 23, 2010
During my 18 years as a leader in the Sathya Sai Organization I tried to strike the balance between the excessive pronouncements and impossible requirements of Sai Baba on correct behaviour and the crying needs of fellow devotees – some weak or often disturbed persons – who sought help and succour from the organization (which was supposed to be the extension of Sai Baba’s world mission). The contradictions between the teachings and the rules, the manipulation and jockeying for position by the VIP leaders plus the paradoxes between Sai Baba’s own words and actions were eventually too much to manage and finally broke the back of all the best – most active and generous – people in our organization here and many in other countries. Once the true facts about Sai Baba emerged from 2000 onwards, all of these left in disgust and as wiser people. The doctrine behind it all looked more and more shabby and divorced from reality.
One crucial anomaly in all ‘spiritual’ doctrines which aim to remove the individualised self in favour of the imaginary One Divine Self is that they require far too much concentration on one’s own salvation…i.e. on and for oneself. The paradox is that, to rid oneself of self (or ‘ego’ understood as the seat of selfishness), one has to cultivate oneself, examine oneself, improve oneself and concentrate overwhelmingly on one’s own practices (‘spiritual sadhana‘). This ‘sadhana‘ can include doing good service to others, but one engages in it primarily out of motivation for one’s own future imagined good… ‘liberation’ from the world and its cares in some unknown realm of being filled with consciousness and bliss. To rationalize the necessity of this selfish pursuit of one’s own ultimate interests, it is said that it is best for all humanity that people become self-realized, it will eventually introduce an age of Truth and goodness etc. (even though they will have died and are out of contact with the world forever – which further gives rise to ideas of otherworldly contacts, communications with spirits and the dead, ghosts or whatever you want to have to rest assured).
To overcome the ego by such doctrines, one must think of oneself as not oneself but as being God omnipotent (and also omnipresent and omniscient as a result). This is tough if one finds does not posses these qualities at all! However, plenty of self-styled ‘Masters’ claim to do so (perhaps the Druckers too?)! It may all done with the very best of intentions, [however misguided] – but definitely not by all who do it to earn a fortune, power and everything they can get! This ambiguous ”self-cultivation’ is nothing short of narcissism, or seeing oneself only in the mirror of one’s self-enhancing thoughts. Most persons with some professional experience of psychotherapies naturally regard this as an ‘escape mechanism’ or ‘denial of reality’, to flee the world in wishful thinking. It is well-known, too, how reality has its own way of impinging – even brutally smashing the hall of self-distorting mirrors – sooner or later. Common sense and proper information show how anyone can be threatened by debilitating illness, by senile loss of memory or dementia, accidents causing strokes and other brain damage. What then of one’s imagined ‘self-omnipotence’? We see many indubitable signs of the reduction to incoherence and absurdity in the self-proclaimed omnipotent, omniscient Divinity – Sathya Sai Baba, the ultimate narcissist, as I and others (see here) have documented from his own words in many web pages.
In the zealous atmosphere where most followers are trapped in very subtle indoctrination and a largely self-programmed belief structure, no inquiring mind can survive untroubled for very long. Either one goes along with the rationalization process which operates at full steam throughout the Sai movement or one questions more and more when disturbed by observable and reported events. Living there is mentally stifling – and intellectually unfruitful. This is not least so in the colleges, which was one of the hardest tests I had to face – one shared by my friend V.K. Narasimhan. I did my best to seek answers to remove doubts and then to raise questions that might lead further, but the doctrine of Sai Baba is set in stone as God-ordained, perfect and beyond any human criticism or even proper understanding (he claims). Unfortunately my efforts in many Sanathana articles to explain away anomalies were embraced readily by those starved of explanations of worrying events and answers to conflicting or wild Sai Baba statements … eventually I had to say no to Narasimhan’s pressing requests for yet more articles.
Incidentally, Narasimhan told me repeatedly, latest in 1998 when Al Drucker partook in the Paduka ceremony there, that he disagreed fundamentally with Al Drucker about the advaitic teaching he professes, having seen it as one of the worst of all ideological influences on the Indian psyche and society. Its pernicious effects were, he insisted, the main cause of the disinterest of so many Indians in worldly conditions and especially in their fellow sufferers’ plight… with their “it is all due to karma, but never mind, the Unitary One God is working out his great design” Really?
My wife makes the following remarks on this subject of ego-removal:
“Those who think of themselves as being one with the divine must necessarily divide the self into two parts – the divine self (atman) and the human ‘incarnation’ (jiva) which is regarded as selfish and ignorant of its divine origin, blinded by illusion (maya) into thinking of itself as a separate being. The fact that the human self is experienced as being the real one doesn’t matter, for the teaching says it is an illusion. This splitting off of part of oneself and denial of one’s real perceptions tends to undermine the whole psyche and personality, and it creates a dependency on the spiritual teacher/master or whoever claims to be able to perceive this ‘Truth’. Many wish to be perfect, full of bliss and untouched by pain, sorrow or difficulties. In order for that to happen – the doctrine insists – one has to be constantly focused on the divine self and identifying with it. So much better than to have to identify with the human ego-self who makes mistakes, suffers, and is generally far from perfect and blissful…. How nice and convenient to reflect on the divine self, perfect and beyond reproach, and not to have to bother about reflecting on – or be responsible for – one’s human failings!
No wonder that there are so many who have symptoms of suffering from ego-mania in ‘spiritual’ groups, being hardly capable of serious self-reflection, unable to recognise faults they have – and with exaggerated ideas of themselves. So as to keep up this self-image the doctrine of ‘positive thinking’ is applied, for it leaves no room for critical thoughts to disturb their focus on the ‘divine self”… while the actual human self is overlooked or even shunted off as an illusion, a negative disturbance”
My wife put things very aptly!
By extension or inference, the doctrine runs that one should never criticize others either, as their true selves are equally one with the divine and thus beyond reproach. All others are ideally represented as being “brothers and sisters”… whoever they are, whatever they have done or are doing! This is all very well as a wishful dream, but it is not at all in the world all live in! Genuine concern for others as they actually are (not as imagined to be) and normal conscience have no place in that scheme which cannot distinguish between good and bad. Such belief systems would deny other people’s experience of sexual abuse as something bad, because of one’s own denial of the world and human self as real.
It is pitiful really, that this unnatural splitting of oneself in two – the real vs. the unreal self, or the sacred vs. the profane self – is seen as bringing one closer to oneness, not only with the divine self but with all ‘creation’ (or, rather, only with the divine essence of creation, not the time-space universe). This is dualism, of which no consciousness can ever totally be free (there must be consciousness of something). The actual ‘creation’ we live in and perceive is portrayed as illusive, unreal (maya), and only the supposed and unseen, unknowable creator is real. All that kind of thing is existence turned upside-down in fantasy, as often symbolised by the Yggdrasil tree (of Norse mythology) which is inverted and has its roots in the sky – as if it could exist and sustain itself in that way. (Likewise all surreal extras in the form of clouds, cuckoos, green pastures and non-stop hymn-singing ghostly choirs?)
Meanwhile, as my wife heartily agrees, others have to put up with these people who mentally shut off the parts of themselves that don’t fit into their ideas of their ‘divine’ selves, and who then start preaching their (deeply ingrained and soon subconscious) self-deception to others. They think they know the one truth, and cannot and will not modify their thoughts, beliefs or behaviour based on worldly facts or any well-meant input or feedback from others. The most deluded cases – every adult will have come across at least one – believe they know everything, know God or even are God and are fanatically engaged in wanting to bring salvation to everyone for their own good, whether they want it or not. These God-botherers – not leasy Yaani Drucker and her kind – who want to save others from themselves are soon shunned by all people of experience and character because they are truly insufferable.
Reply To Claimer of Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondence) Part 2
Barry Pittard Replies To Sathya Sai Center Rape Survivor’s Note To Him
Dangerous to Rationalize Rape. A major Sathya Sai Baba Follower’s Example
The Spiritual Search – a philosophical analysis of advaitic solipsism and social narcissism