It is with good intentions, no doubt, that Mariana Caplan – a psychologist involved with so-called ‘religious spirituality’ wants to contribute to helping people whose teachers die and ease their transition and grief. I must take exception, however, to her assertion that – even if these teachers employed fraud as part of their teaching – that it would be a benefit if people found their faith healed or it brought them closer to the love of the Divine, not ‘altogether bad’. She knows about Sathya Sai Baba, and wrote: “I wish his families and followers ease in their grieving, all of us spaciousness and forgiveness around any of Sathya Sai Baba’s weaknesses, and most of all, integrity to those who are charged with the responsibility of spiritual leadership. She wrote on Huffington Post:-
“I have tried to write about these issues extensively in my forthcoming book The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher. However, the fact remains: discernment is a lifelong process, and there are more questions than answers. Each life, each relationship is distinct. We can simply cultivate greater discernment as we journey through a labyrinth of increasing subtlety.”
To have to stimulate faith through fraud already speaks of the hollowness of these kinds of faith. What is the ‘love of the Divine’ other than a subjective emotional belief in matters which cannot be proven and which, in all likelihood, are delusions which encourage people to project onto ideas and imaginings about goodness external to themselves and external to the known universe too their dearest wishes and hopes?
There is no serious evidence that prayers ever work – and nearly all children even soon discover that – as do those who go to Lourdes or such places for healing of incurable illnesses (intensive research has shown this cannot be proven in a single case). Yet massive religious industries work to maintain and reinforce the delusion, and those involved are most likely themselves unwitting victims of indoctrination.
Sai Baba followers have been inculcated with the simplistic (and practically unworkable) moral commandment never to see, hear, think or speak negatively of anyone (and that mostly meant, not of Sai Baba or his minions!) So they cannot go to exposé websites to learn of the many alleged crimes he is held responsible for (including scores of signed and testified statements by young men around the world). Nor can they investigate the political quashing of court petitions, the cover-up and protection from prosecution by his devotees in the government and supreme court (as High Chief Justice Bhagwati has recently astonishingly revealed in an interview with the Times of India).
Add to that the massively-documented deceptions, impossibly fantastic claims and outright frauds that Sathya Sai Baba carried out – not forgetting the opportunistic, simplistic hodgepodge of often self-contradictory teachings, and scores of false statements of fact, and the ‘perils of choosing a spiritual teacher’ become far more important than and subjective ‘rewards’ of false spiritual security. See http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/
Mariana Caplan’s articles are favoured on Huffington Post