Still another edition of Sanathana Sarathi.....

by Åsa Samsioe

Some days ago I got the May edition of Sanathana Sarathi in my letter-box. My subscription doesn´t end until October this year. And then it will certainly not be renewed!
This last edition had got a new cover with the grandiose text: “Devoted to the moral and Spiritual Uplift of Humanity...”
What would the postman think if he knew the circumstances behind the “moral and spiritual” behavior of the portrayed figure in the magazine? I hope he doesn´t understand English.
Two years ago I was happy when I got that magazine each month. Now I am just feeling embarrassed.
Even if I know that most of its content is the same old simple rubbish, my curiosity forces me to read it. Perhaps I expect that some day I will read something I have not read before, or at least find some new and interesting view of my former guru. But no! There is absolutely nothing like that!
I am wondering who would seriously maintain that this embarrassing rubbish is successful when it comes to “the moral and Spiritual Uplift of Humanity”???

In stark contrast to Sathya Sai Baba´s banalities there is an excellent book written by Jack Kornfield, “A path with heart”.
The author is a meditation master and psychologist and has trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India. He makes a wonderful synthesis of his profound spiritual and psychological insights.
In the chapter Spiritual Maturity he writes: “An eigth quality of spiritual maturity is that of embracing opposites, a capacity to hold the contradictions of life in our heart. When we are young children we see our parents as either all good, when they provide us with what we want, or all bad, when they frustrate our desires and do not act as we wish them to.
A great development of the consciousness of children eventually lets them see their parents clearly and understand that within the same person there is both good and bad, love and anger, generosity and fear. A similar development occurs as we mature in spiritual practice.”

(see 'Language of the head or heart?' which examines the meaning and function of these terms or really just epithets - here)

These insights don´t seem to have reached Sathya Sai Baba so far. For him it is all black or white, good or evil. What about these platitudes of his in the latest Sanathana Sarathi?: “An ungrateful person is worse than a beast.” Some people have wicked feelings within, but talk in a pleasing manner in front of others. Such people are verily demons.”
As always, the exemplary all-good models who stand in stark contrast to the demons in Sathya Sai Baba´s imagination are the characters in the Ramayana. And by the Abraham Lincoln the only non- Indian individual who deserves Sathya Sai Baba´s respect?
Couldn´t "God" be just a little more creative? Am I the only person who is thoroughly tired to read about these characters over and over again?

Instead of demonstrating his capacity to embrace the whole, Sathya Sai Baba´s strategy is to encourage the splitting and denying tendencies in his devotees: “In order to get rid of evil thoughts, you should run away from bad company in the first instance.” He also encourages us to run away from ourselves and sustain these splitting and denying defences in some sort of misguided attempt to get pure: “Many students today develop crooked thoughts. You should not give room to such thoughts in your heart.”

Compare this with Jack Kornfield's writing: “As we allow the world to touch us deeply, we recognize that just as there is pain in our own lives, so there is pain in everyone else´s life. This is the birth of wise understanding.... With wise understanding we allow ourselves to contain all things, both dark and light, and we come to a sense of peace.This is not the peace of denial and running away, but the peace we find in the heart, that has rejected nothing, that touches all things with compassion.”
I suppose that also Sathya Sai Baba contains all things, both dark and light. Perhaps he was himself an abused child long ago...Perhaps it is his own crooked thoughts and his own pain he is trying to run away from....

But perhaps some of us, at least in the end, should be thankful to Sathya Sai Baba... according to what Jack Kornfield writes in the chapter “The emperor's new clothes: Problems with teachers:”
“Disillusionment is an important part of the spiritual path. It is a powerful and fiery gate, one of the purest teachers of awakening, independence, and letting go that we will ever encounter. To be disillusioned is to be stripped of our hopes, imaginings and expectations. But while it opens our eyes, the resulting pain all to often closes our hearts. The great challenge of disillusionment is to keep our eyes open and still remain connected with the great heart of compassion.”
Poor Sathya... what a mediocre simpleton his “Divine Avatar” is compared with an ordinary mortal being like Jack Kornfield! Perhaps it´s time for “God” to put an end to these embarrassing discourses of his before he gets too senile?

See other articles by Åsa Samsioe:-

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