Projection to hook and bind to Sathya Sai Baba
Posted by robertpriddy on April 12, 2010
I have shown in my last blog some of the ways in which how psychological projection works in binding people to Sathya Sai Baba whereby they willingly (try to) give up their individual autonomy in a master-slave type relationship. The doctrine of Sai Baba (and most Indian gurus) whereby people are brought under the mind control of priests, gurus and their kind has been developed through millennia and it has some very subtle aspects:-
Sathya Sai Baba has said that everyone projects their own qualities onto things of the world and others and are deluded that these qualities come from outside themselves. He gives an example, saying that the quality of love for another person or things is projection. Now, this is exactly what those devotees who worship him do! He makes use of this to get followers to focus on his person, having built up one of the biggest guru personality cults ever.
Sai Baba’s reason for explaining the nature of projection is not, however, mocking his followers for their naivety. He wants to indoctrinate them to turn their minds inwards. He insists on the Vedantic proposition, “You are the Atma (Spirit)” and says “You ARE God!”. By telling his followers they are also Divine, he uses the subtle double-bind, because the crunch is that – until they reach full realization of Godhood themselves (whether it may or may not be sheer fantasy) – he is their Lord and Master who them must obey in order to succeed. Though there is no need whatever to project ‘divine qualities’ onto Sai Baba, he constantly promotes himself as the only divine avatar, the only supremely powerful and all-knowing incarnation!
Sathya Sai Baba played on this human faculty of projection when he told Hislop: “You have got love for the tape recorder…. When the tape recorder was in the shop, did you love it? … you love it now because you feel it is ‘mine’. So, when you think God is ‘mine’, you love Him.” The single keystone belief that Sai Baba is God Himself, once adopted, leads to ever greater self-minimalisation through increasing projection onto him. The expressed aim is to make it grow until there is nothing else by Sai Baba everywhere in everything, until you are one with him (wherever or whatever that might involve…)
Sai Baba – parading as “God Almighty” – constantly insists most strongly that his devotees must constantly worship his name, form and person as the fastest and safest way to salvation and liberation from the pain and suffering of life now and in the hereafter. Consequently, most devotees do not – cannot – find or recognize any ‘God within’ (which is a subtle bait and hook in Sai’s hold-all teaching). But when they can only project divinity onto him, how can they at all retain or discover their own worth, whether profane or sacred?
A good friend of mine, Mark Roche was even told by him in an interview group of Americans in 1976 that they were thinking that people back in America are living in an illusion while they thought themselves to be at the feet of the Lord. But that this was an illusion too! Why then does he invite and accept constant adulation of himself through all forms of worship, kissing of his feet and much more? He likes to contradict everything, including himself… the confusion he so creates also weakens the autonomy of his devotees.
Many have realised that – despite everything – Sai Baba is definitely not at all what he claims to be. Those of weaker natures without a sound ballast of other life experiences and achievements can suffer greatly – not just disorientation and the collapse of one’s whole belief structure and self-confidence but also loss of the friendship or support of all in the ‘Sai family’, also often one’s Indian property investments, one’s credibility and much more.
Intensive doctrinal self-brainwashing in ‘projecting the positive’ – above all onto the person of Sai Baba – alienates the person from (his or her own) reality, and easily becomes what is known commonly to the world as ‘cult brainwashing’. What is usually meant by ‘projection’ in psychology is more specific. It is a more or less deep-rooted emotional disturbance in a person’s psyche (‘defense mechanism’), whereby guilt is suppressed by shifting responsibility onto others, for both bad and good things done. It can also assume pathological proportions in disturbed and vulnerable persons whereby they weaken themselves mentally and emotionally to such a degree that they flip into mental crises.
If one projects positive qualities outwards, the corollary in this case is that one also ‘internalises’ negative qualities to one’s own real self-image, though the imaginary qualities of divine nature are also brought in but without the corresponding reality. A large part of Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘teaching’ is very self-negating in that all that one (with Sai Baba) considers to be bad, sinful, evil is solely due to our own thoughts, words and deeds. SB is ever pouring out masses of blame and accusations of impurities and sins against everyone, including his devotees. All that is good comes from him, he says, while all suffering, all evil acts, and all problems one experiences are due entirely to one’s own actions (now or previously)! This very strong generator of guilt feelings and depressive tendencies… it is classical religious fundamentalism as found in many religions.