SATHYA-SAI-VIP DR. JACK HAWLEY'S CRISIS-MANAGEMENT
Dr Jack Hawley wrote a book on business management and values - "Reawakening the Spirit in Work: The Power of Dharmic Management", intended as a contribution to what is a profitable 'business management religion' in the USA.
I first met Hawley in 1986, when he had just begun writing it, and he struggled to patch it together over the following nine years. Anyone at the ashrams could observe how he waited day after day in the darshan lines begging for advice, a 'wink and a nod' or blessings from Sai Baba. He got his publisher to send me a review copy, but even though I was still then a believer in Sai Baba as a genuine guru, I could not possibly recommend the book which - after so long in preparation - he sent me a review copy, but even though I was still then a (deceived) believer in Sai Baba's genuineness, I found it disappointing and an embarrassment too, because I could not possible recommend the book, as he doubtless expected I would.
Critique of Reawakening the Spirit in Work The book is a rambling collection of rather disparate thoughts, mostly culled from the endless repetitive 'discourse' of Sathya Sai Baba. Much of it is almost unintelligible in its use of vague generalisations and frequent moralism, as 'inspired' by the said Self-promoting God Incarnate and Creator of the Universe, whose blind devotee Jack Hawley is. In the book, Hawley describes how 'dharmic' theories (Dharma=righteous conduct) could enable managers to harness "the power of heart, spirit, happiness and belief". He does not put forward anything like a consistent theory, however, but only jumbled excerpts and shallow interpretations of Sai Baba ideas with some kind of bearing on business leadership (for Sai Baba never spoke about management in a single of his thousands of discourses).
Hawley promotes as an especially successful example of the values Sai Baba promotes making for excellent, profitable business - that of Isaac Tigrett's [non-vegetarian and alcohol-serving!] Hard Rock Cafe. This started at Marble Arch in London in the 1960s and grew into a chain, predating MacDonalds. Tigrett made his fortune largely through the early rock-n-roll memorabilia association and feeding the populace with hamburgers (despite the fact that Sai Baba is rigorously against any meat-eating or even eating eggs). The Hard Rock Café's slogan Tigrett used was Sai Baba's 'Love all,Serve all'. While Tigrett doubtless was a good and sensitive employer, one can hardly call Hard Rock Cafés spiritual places or a 'spiritual' business. More telling, though, is that Isaac Tigrett's morals are so twisted, as he demonstrated to the full on the BBC documentary about Sai Baba saying that it made no difference to his spiritual commitment if Sai Baba was a sexual abuser (which he believes to be so), or even if he were to go out and murder someone!! Not exactly the talk you'd expect from a 'dharmic manager'? But Hawley and Tigrett are both besotted Sai Baba devotee "brothers", so back-scratching was to be expected. Incapable of making any clear summary or drawing any practical conclusions after his wandering pick-'n-mix of Sai Baba teachings swallowed whole, Hawley tortuously made it somehow relate to 'management' issues. He wrote, "The key questions for today's managers and leaders are no longer issues of task and structure but are questions of spirit." Then he repeats the Sathya Sai movement's mantra, namely, that spirituality is not the same as religion. However, for Hawley, it is in actual practice a highly religious belief in Sai Baba as the Incarnate God, embodiment of all that is or ever was holy. One might just as well say that 'faith' is different ' religion' with as little intelligible consequence, even though he claims that this is respiriting, revering, repowering, recharactering, and reinspiring. Hawley concluded with what he evidently was intended as a clinching account of how - uncertain about how a lecture he was to give on management and spirituality would be received - he saw a huge Sai Baba superimposed on his audience! From management to miracles... a short step for Hawley but a giant step for US business management, one would think?
Sai Baba's "tested dupes" serve as lecturers about him: Hawley also lectures people on selfless service and Sai Baba's teaching that we must put a 'ceiling on desires', yet it is obvious that he must have used (wasted) very considerable funds on himself and his wife, travelling from California to spend half the year in Sathya Sai Baba's ashrams where he assiduously waits and prays day after day for blessings from Sathya Sai Baba. Such very long stays at the ashrams mean - for many visiting foreigners - mostly self-indulgence, doing what suits oneself... but for much waiting, waiting and waiting in queues to get a first place, if possible! This is all often mistakenly called 'sadhana' (spiritual practice) and 'being in the presence of the Lord' and other such high-faluting excuses. Mr. Hawley and his wife have done this year on year since my wife and I met them in 1985, when Mrs. Hawley was daily seen in the 'darsan' lines trying to get Sai Baba to accept a very large teddy bear (which her "God Incarnate" ignored until she gave up)! Though the Hawley's own one of the simple apartments at Prashanthi Nilayam, they have put in plenty of good living at 5-star Indian hotels when in Bangalore and Kodaikanal, not least. So much for 'ceiling on desires' in practice. Jack Hawley, being a died-in-the-wool 'true believer' in Sai Baba as the Divine Incarnation, held the occasional lecture for foreigners in the ashrams (see photo). I have seldom heard such an uncritical and Polyanna-type parroting of simplistic Sai Baba ideas. He claimed that Sai Baba insists that humans have no free will... however, Sai Baba has stated the opposite view equally many times, but this "nuance" passed Hawley by. Mrs. Hawley's contribution to the "lecture" was to boil everything down to one sentence to the effect that 'it's all about love'. Sathya Sai Baba has accredited these two to hold these "lectures" on a regular basis and one must reflect that it is the total credulity of the couple and their acceptance of anything he does as divinely-inspired (whatever it is, whatever crimes) which he appreciated most. They will never create any waves!
Dr. Hawley defended Sai Baba as a mystery beyond comprehension: He wrote an article, the main point of which was, where Sai Baba is concerned, 'We don't know'. It should have been entitled 'We don't want to know'. Hawley achieves a feat of self-deception and well-intentioned hypocrisy, which has been dissected most effectively by Timothy Conway Ph. D., who - in contradistinction to Jack Hawley, is a genuine scholar of spirituality and a practitioner who follows his conscience whatever it costs him, as did his having the reject Sathya Sai Baba when he was convinced of his crimes. (see the article of a genuine academic scholar of religion, Timothy Conway, here).
Strong enough faith and love can deny any unwelcome facts: Hawley regards the emergence of so many allegations against Sathya Sai Baba as creating a crisis among followers ( and in his mind no doubt). He writes: "How one fares in this crisis depends on one’s “capacity” (an important spiritual term for the strength of one’s faith and love)."
He thinks he survived having strong enough faith and love (for whom?) to reject the possibility of there being truth in them.
A more sensible analysis of how one survives a crisis is how willing one is to search one's conscience, how strong one's adherence to the truth and investigating it are, and how independent one is in mind and spirit. It is NOT a question of how much faith one has invested in a guru or how strong one's love for that guru may be (to the exclusion of the many survivors of his various abuses of trust and faith, including sexual abuses)
Hawley again: "The big question, of course, is “is it true?” And the truth is that we (all of us) don’t know! Many think they know, but they don’t really know. But I do — at least I know some things (as I’m sure many others do also). I will not talk about all I know, but I can say this: It is NOT what some minds have leaped to."
But Jack DOES NOT KNOW - which he even admits at the outset but try to deny in the same breath. He says he won't talk about all he knows.... indeed, he has various secrets to keep, as does every Sai-VIP who remains there now. Hawley was actively involved in Sai Baba's cover-ups - such as when he was given the task of dealing with the aftermath of Michael Oliver's death in the Museum accident, where he worked to cover-up all untoward aspects of the incident (he told me very guardedly about his part in that job!). Further, the parents of Michael's friend, Bonnie, could never find out what happened and believed that she was a cult murder victim. No thanks to Dr. Jack Hawley who told me he had dealings with the the US embassy over Michael Oliver (and apparently helped distract them from going too deeply into the matter, which was very bad publicity for the supposedly 'omniscient, omnipotent' Sathya Sai Baba). I know him better than he may recall... and have never thought him to be either frank (like our former mutual friend Robert Bruce) or articulate (he could never hold an intelligent conversation even when we talked and his 'lectures' were pathetically simplistic). Let's see how frank and articulate he is in the following, then:-
"It is the worldly function of the mind to reach conclusions. When the mind doesn’t know the answer to a question it becomes psychologically distressed. Then it grabs at answers and stretches for concepts that might help it feel better." This is evidently so of Hawley's mind, who concludes that he knows that there is no sexual abuse, even when he hasn't investigated the matter by contacting any of the 30 plus who have stood forth. He pretends that no 'worldly' mind can practice reservation of judgement, which countless people practice in respect of countless matters. That is also how one reaches judgement when having investigated fairly and found more than sufficient evident to conclude guilt.
Hawley claims that the mind, when distressed, "readily accepts simplistic analogies, buzz words, and labels — anything that alleviates its puzzled state. Most of the “answers” it comes up with are wrong, but the mind doesn’t care! Worse yet, once it latches onto an “answer,” the mind stops receiving new information. In effect it says, “Sorry, this issue is closed. I will no longer accept anything that could upset my tenuous equilibrium.”
This is a quite excellent description of how Hawley's own mind works in respect of the many allegations of sexual abuse, abuses of faith, lies, deceptions, fraudulent 'materializations' and so on. His mind rejects in advance all negative assertions about his guru-God as 'untrue'. Unlike Hawley, I have investigated the matter very thoroughly and have made contact with numerous of Sathya Sai Baba's sex abuse victims, including students who dare not speak out but contacted me in strict confidence to support me and tell me what they or their friends and family members have suffered. After he declared his own total denial, such persons would not contact him - his biassed and essentially dishonest standpoint being evident. They know he would probably betray their confidence!
Hawley's "meagre human mind" with its "impurities": Jack goes on: "What is happening here in Prasanthi is beyond the meager human mind and its ability to “figure out.” It is beyond maya (mind-created illusion). Many things happen here that involve deep, mysterious energies, far beyond what our minds can grasp."
Thereby Hawley subtly implies that he knows better than us what lurks behind the mind-related illusion - that he knows there are deep mysterious energies beyond what 'our' minds can grasp, admitting that his mind can't grasp them either. However, his mind grasps nothing but imagined mysteries. He subconsciously projects all manner of mystery out into the beyond - connecting all these 'energies' to Sathya Sai Baba. He has swallowed the Sai Baba line on all this so thoroughly that he must virtually exist in an imaginary cosmos... his mind doubtless boggling at all of it!
Hawley also wrote "It has to do with the purity of our own minds, not someone else’s. The impurity is not in the Avatar, who is purity itself, it’s in the world, in our minds. Few of us can see Divinity, and fewer yet understand it."
This demonstrates fully just how indoctrinated he really is - with the standard parroted 'Prashanthi speak', with which Sai Baba has virtually dominated the thoughts of most of his followers. Hawley is strongly implying that he is one of the few who can see Divinity (in Sai Baba) and that he further hints that he may be one of the fewer who can understand it too. Yet his understanding is at a low level generally, also concerning spiritual ideas, and this can also be seen by readers of his rambling management book (not the work of a very educated or well-oriented mind) and your narrow pseudo-philosophical outlook which sticks well within the confines of the mythological scripture, the Gita as interpreted by Sathya Sai Baba, and fears to tread in the wide world of historical and scientific criticism of scripture or the comparative and critical meta-theological studies which abound.
Expert on the 'Bhagavad Gita'?: Jack Hawley has written a book in which he expounds on the Bhagavad Gita - absurdly calling it a "walkthrough". (The term is supposed to suggest one can travel a simple "spiritual path" to understanding of the meaning of human life. But a 'walkover' it will certainly not be!). For a person who has but a smattering of Sanskrit (the meaning of a glossary full of nouns without grammar or syntax), this "walkthrough" is a doubtful feat indeed. He has borrowed from translations made by others, but above all has spent years studying what Sathya Sai Baba has said about it (which amounts to considerably more in volume than the Gita itself). This Hawley, having sat for hours and waited and then intently begged his God Avatar at about 1000 darshans to take notice of him, he was granted the boon of writing this book by his guru. He has so to speak summarised the Gita's meaning as understood by him in a way which is as simple as possible - one which studiously avoids citing independent learned studies in the philosophy of religion, all comparative religious monographs and - not least - all rational, non-Hindu biased studies.
Hawley is the equivalent of a Bible-thumper, but using the Gita instead. It boils down mostly to moralism and God-bothering. Like all who hold up one scripture as the be-all-and-end-all, Hawley remains mentally within the scope of the Gita and what believers in it think. The tendency is to ignore criticisms or questions about the texts by well-qualified persons. Despite all the lip service to 'universal wisdom' and 'unity of faiths' such proselytizers are almost entirely incapable of making comparative religious studies or stepping beyond narrow intellectual horizons. Dr. Jack Hawley takes his interpretation of it solely from Sathya Sai Baba, who he recognises as God in Human Form, the first such incarnation since the time of Krishna! This tells most people enough about his 'version' of the Bhagavad Gita in advance to know that much of it can safely be cast out along with countless thousands of pseudo-religious interpretations from all manner of 'expert theologians'. As Richard Dawkins has pointed out, no theology is a genuine subject, because they are about non-existent entities... unlike any science, which always has a real field of investigation. Theology of all kinds simply confuse, congeal and conflate the contents of scriptures which are largely the vehicle of primitive beliefs handed down (often inaccurately and with modifications and censorings) from early times when mankind was unable to understand more than a tiny fraction of the world and the causes operating on and within it, not least on human minds. At worst, myths like the Gita indoctrinate into beliefs and supposed 'historical facts' which are totally unproven and can lead to serious delusions (none the less serious when shared by thousands), while at best they probably only provide a kind of psychological projective exercise within a moral story.
To promote his book on the Gita, Jack Hawley cites a review he asked a friend of mine to write, as follows:-
"The Bhagavad Gita’ is unique among the great scriptures of the world as its appeal transcends the barriers of time and space. There are numerous English versions of the ‘Gita’, from Sir Edwin Arnold’s ‘Song Celestial’ to Mrs. Annie Besant’s lucid translation. Dr. Jack Hawley’s walkthrough is not a mere translation, it is a sincere ‘sadhak’s’ presentation of the message of the ‘Gita in a simple but insightful manner so that its perennial message goes home to Western readers. No one can ‘walk through’ this book without getting a deep insight into these everlasting principles given to all of humanity. —V. K. Narasimha, Journalist, Editor (Winner of India’s Pulitzer Prize, The Goenka Award).
Is it symptomatic of this publication that the reference states the name of my former good friend V.K. Narasimhan incorrectly? V.K. Narasimhan, who died in 2000, once was awarded the Goenka Prize for his stand against Mrs. Indira Gandhi's rigid censorship during the Emergency (i.e. for journalistic courage, not for expertise in Sanskrit scripture, where he amusingly admitted he was something of a dilettante). He knew, of course, that Hawley had only read the Gita through Sai Baba's interpretations and through other more learned persons' translations. So VKN studiously avoided saying that Hawley in any way translated the Gita (as a publishers blurb suggests). That Narasimhan wrote the positive review on Hawley's behalf - though it was remarkably brief - had to do with the fact that both were devotees of Sathya Sai Baba (though to very different degrees of credulity) who met frequently and unavoidably in the ashrams on the VIP veranda, since Hawley spent 6 months per annum there (where VKN resided). Narasimhan was well-versed in the Gita, as he was in several other Indian scriptures, but he was not a Sankrit scholar - he had memorised 100 stanzas in Sanskrit, but no more... a fact which his wife would joke about and he, charming fellow, would tell anyone who would listen.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Jack Hawley does not make any jokes about his own much more considerable ignorance of Sanskrit (I have never found him to have any sense of humour). Interestingly, V.K. Narasimhan told me on occasion that prominent Sanskrit scholars he knew very well had informed him that Sathya Sai Baba often makes fundamental grammatical mistakes in Sanskrit! Of this I do not judge, being another who only has a smattering of that language, mostly from glossaries, which Sathya Sai Baba called 'the mother of all languages' (a huge and typical ignorant blooper, since other families of languages were never derived from it in any way). A strange statement from the self-proclaimed God Creator of the Universe?
A former Sai Baba centre president who was deeply-involved in spiritual studies since age 16, Timothy Conway Ph.D., writes to Jack Hawley about his propaganda letter, see here.
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