Mrs Phyllis Krystal - Sai Baba VIP and New Age healing promoter

Update: In August 2015, at the age of 100, Phylis Krystal declared that she had been wrong to support the 'subtle body medium' Madhusudan at Muddenahalli, putting this down to weakness due to illness. She formally refuted this imposter and cancelled a planned visit there. See here

In December 2016, Phyllis Krystal died, aged 102.


Phyllis Krystal is a proponent of the simplification of spiritual teachings, as her own statement makes 'krystal' clear:-
"Many devotees have been asking me to offer a message to help during this time of deep concern over the present serious physical condition that Baba is undergoing. I have hesitated until now to add to the many messages being circulated around the world, however, I am now feeling an urgency to do so. Baba has taught us repeatedly to "keep it simple", so that even a child can understand. Let us therefore practise what He Himself has been teaching us for so many years ..."

Her best-known books on 'cutting ties that bind' other pseudo-psychological mental self-healing ideas derived from Sathya Sai Baba are often superficial and simplistic, though some are common sensical ways of tryint to discard unhelpful thought-patterns and emotional 'hang-ups'.

Phyllis Krystal remarked after the premature death of her God Incarnate, Sathya Sai Baba, that simplemessage is "We are not the body". She believes all are Divine and partake in the eternal spirit of Divinity, which is the 'real I'. That the mind of Sathya Sai Baba also died, she did not mention. She sais she felt impelled to comment since devotees were grieving so excessively. Sai Baba had just died under many very suspicious circumstances - being disconnected from his life-support (Easter Suinday was chosen!) which held the body alive but not his consciousness. An ignominous death for a self-appointed God Creator of the Universe, one would think, and unlike that of any known revered Indian spiritual figure, yogi or supposed 'realised' soul!

The Sai Baba traditional Eastern doctrine is that we are all "eternal spirits" - that our supposed shared divinity resides in unimaginable realms that no one can describe. This frees our reputations from anything "we" did in the body...  such as widely reported, in Sai Baba's case, major predatory sex abuse and pedophilia. Phyllis Krystal replied - after the 1999 storm broke - to a questioner about those accusations on the lines that "Either you believe he is God or not." If the former - as she holds - then he could never be held to account for anything he chose to do as it was for the ultimate good! This is the kernel of Sathya Sai Baba defenders'  reasoning... not exactly plausible, not morally defensible, nor in any way based on any provable facts... hence, irrational belief (which itself requires psychological and other kinds of explanations).

Krystal's false claims about Sai Baba

The constantly ill and suffering Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, an elderly lady devotee for decades from the US, who has written about some of her experiences of Sathya Sai Baba in the hagiographic book with the excessive title: 'The Ultimate Experience' - publ. Samuel Weiser Inc ) she relates how Sathya Sai Baba had told her she was suffering not from one headache, but five headaches'. She had written there that she went some kind of intensification of her symptoms while with Sathya Sai Baba, which she interpreted as being a part of the treatment. She reports that when described her chronic and terrible headaches" [Baba] then launched into a detailed diagnosis of my physical problems which Dr. Bhagavantam translated from Telugu into English. Baba spoke very fast and used complex medical terms which neither of us was able to comprehend and which I would not have been able to spell even if I had tried to take notes..." (Krystal, ibid., p. 37)

When she was a speaker at the Sathya Sai Hamburg Conference in 1992 she was asked point blank from the audience whether Sathya Sai Baba had now cured her of all her crashing headaches. She hesitated for some time, and eventually said that he had. However, later I was in London talking to Lucas Ralli, (Central Coordinator for UK & Ireland until unceremoniously kicked out) and a close friend of Mrs. Krystal, who stayed with him and his wife sometime during a UK visit. He came to mention that she was in constant need of pain killers for her headaches and I was taken aback. So I asked Lucas if she had not been cured, but he confirmed that she still suffered greatly from this. This incident – many years after her supposed healing by Sai Baba and long after the Hamburg Conference. To dissemble and lie to defend her guru-God shows how even privileged devotees fear to tell negative facts that might raise doubts in listeners' minds (or awaken SB's ever-ready intense displeasure)!  This incident is a telling example, to be afraid to tell a Sai devotee public that he had not been able to cure her as he had promised. This kind of deceit is frequent among Sai followers as I learned from 18 years as a leader to whom many would apply for advice etc.

Phyllis Krystal, homosexuality and Sathya Sai Baba: Lucas Ralli organized a Sai Baba meeting in Bayswater (summer, 1989) at which Phyllis Krystal spoke. I was present and heard her talk. My immediate reaction was to be struck by some false tone to her very controlled voice (but with a recognisable British whine under the gushing US patina). I soon saw her kind of self-projection as that of someone whose life was virtually empty but for talking and writing and being admired as a Sai devotee supreme. She evidently gave what was more or less a set piece Sai Baba ‘causerie’ which simply repeated all that anyone involved in the movement had heard many times over. There is no use in putting questions to such a person as Phyllis Krystal, she has pat answers to almost everything - the Sai Baba parrot phenomenon again - all developed through her doubtful and often most 'testing' experiences with Sai Baba and his devotees. However, she offered to field questions. One question from the rear of the hall put by a young Englishman was whether Sai Baba accepts homosexuals or disapproves of homosexuality. Phyllis Krystal took her time and then said that 'Swami sometimes answers through me' and said she felt that she had received his reply, which immediately made me suspicious. My skepticism was not only because of her manner when she said it but also because far too many followers claim to be a channel for Sathya Sai Baba, hundreds – if not thousands – including the host of the meeting, Lucas Ralli, who got published several books of his own messages from Sai Baba. The answer was that Sai Baba loves everyone and therefore does not exclude homosexuals… that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.

Considering that Krystal knew all about the homosexual allegations against Sathya Sai Baba which Hislop received, this appears in retrospect as a revealing charade. However, Phyllis Krystal either did not know or had forgotten that Sai Baba - of all people - had already condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms! (Dr. John Hislop reported a previously unmentioned fact in a letter to directors of the US Sathya Sai Council of January 18, 1981. He told that, when he asked Sathya Sai Baba about the accusations from a mother of homosexual abuse of her son, Baba “told me in an interview (which you have seen) that a homosexual is denied Membership in a Center, that this person should be questioned closely and be admitted only if the person desires to change their life away from that of a homosexual, and that people were homosexuals because of weakness of mind.”)

Further, Dutch Matthijs van der Meer talked with Mrs Krystal about the sexual abuse matter. He wrote about his meeting with her in his article in Spiegelbeeld October 2000, in which he testified to having been subjected involuntarily to 'oiling' by SB himself, and he related how Keith Ord had told him how Ord’s friend Michael Pender was forced into oral sex by Sai Baba and later took his own life in the UK. Van der Meer had visited Lucas Ralli and talked with him about his own, Ord’s and Pender’s experiences, years before the The Findings exposé appeared, with no satisfying results, so Van der Meer investigated further as follows:

"It just seemed too atrocious to be possibly true. Meanwhile many months had elapsed since I had begun to turn myself to whichever Sai author into whose hands I could manage to place a letter... - ...When in May '96 Sandweiss visited the Netherlands I took the opportunity to personally thrust a copy of my former letter into his hands. But still he wouldn’t answer. Yet the trouble was not taken in vain. Some people from the organisation spotted my action, and as if by the grace of Baba in October '96 a meeting with the then 81-year old Phyllis Krystal was arranged for me. She affirmed to both Baba’s intimidations and the cover-up of it by the organisation. With the proviso that she refrained from drawing any conclusions. It could be sensed how she groped for clues with regard to the divine explanation for which I myself had once been looking so hard as well. And so I contended that all things considered, no rational support whatsoever was left for distinguishing Sai Baba from a criminal (for how was one to escape the implication that on the given basis even Hitler and Nero could have been avatars!). "Even if in our hearts we believe Swami", I argued, "in our behaviour we should doubt Swami because that’s our moral duty in a situation like this." But even though she admitted to the logic of my ethics, Krystal kept evading to take the consequences of it. While saying goodbye she promised to let me know as soon as any further insights would come about. Yet of the gruesome ‘insights’ to which revelations would give cause in the years to come, she was not to give notice. Even though she hardly could have missed the work by Da­v id Bailey, a Sai-VIP from her own circle of acquaintances."

Interesting that she didn't refute it out of hand. She did have a fairly sophisticated way of dealing with questions, but none the less deluded for all that! Her millionnairess lifestyle fitted badly with the role SB gave her as a lecturer on 'Ceiling on Desires' - while in Copenhagen she lived at the very most expensive super-luxury hotel (declining devotees' invitations to stay)! I was struck by the complete disinterestedness in SB of her husband, even at an interview (where both of them and I were present, in 1987) and at the Hamburg Sai Conference. He looked very much like Oliver Hardy (but with white hair and glasses) and was merely accompanying Phyllis! Rather odd that he remained so unaffected while his wife was a fanatical believer if ever there was one! In my view, Krystal's failure to keep her promise to update such an anguished person as van der Meer evidently was never even to contact him again. This kind of behaviour is typical of many Sai VIPs and speaks of anti-spiritual disregard of others or even suppressed self-doubt and gutlessness.

Dr. John Hislop wrote in one of his infamous clandestine letters to Sai officials (which he required that all recipients should destroy! But one set of copies did survive: see here). In one of these we read: “Directors Bayer, Goldstein, Krystal and myself have been going over and over the problem as we were talking together this weekend. Let me first say what we are not able to explain. There are two ways for us to respond to these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan. One is to believe Sri Bhagavan when He says the stories are totally untrue, and the other is to believe the stories. If our decision is to not believe the stories, then the question arises as to what moves so many people to say these false stories. This question we are quite unable to answer.”
This shows how well Phyllis Krystal knew of the sexual abuse revelations very early on and CHOSE not to believe them. No investigations, no duty of care, simply denial. She told some devotees who questioned her that either they believed Sathya Sai Baba is God Incarnate or not. If so, they had to accept that there is no truth in such allegations, and has otherwise implied that there may alternatively be another explanation for those actions. The following was stated by Conny Larsson of the Sathya Sai Organization 'VIPs':- "...many of the victims have personally talked by phone to these people, when we tried to understand what was happening with us, but they all told us that this was "Divine" and we had to put up with it. We have talked to leaders as the American leaders dr. Goldstein, Phyllis Krystal, Hal Honig, Jagadeeshan, Gruber, Piculell, Meyer etc. and many, many others. They have all expressed the same opinion "it’s divine".

Mrs. Krystal fitted well into the Lucas Ralli/Peggy Mason/Ron Laing circle because of all the mediumistic stuff they all loved (messages from the dead, ghosts, angels etc.) and she produced some fantastic fancies herself - such as one about being shown by the Lord how Russia was under the darkest cloud on earth etc. and suchlike. Rather the kind of dreams that so many SB followers take quite literally (i.e. Rita Bruce with the destruction of the US by germ warfare and earthquakes etc. as reported in her first book). All these people are prime exponents of spiritual doublethink and what might be called self-hypnosis. Her entire identity has long been 100% Sai-dependent - a fate that befalls most long-term devotees so that any retreat from the delusions one has embraced is virtually impossible. This she certainly regards as the only binding tie worth having... though it was very much a worldly tie and could not be distinguished from her Sai-dependent authorship and need to visit India at great expense constantly to see him in the flesh. In his typical egoistic and self-serving in-fighting, the former International Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organization, Mr. Indulal Shah, tried to cut Phyllis Krystal out of the Sai movement, warning all Org. leaders that she was not (and still is not) a member of the Sai Org., but Lucas was then the UK President (later Central Coordinator for UK). Shah could not defeat Krystal because Sai Baba continued to see and encourage her. He did defeat Ron Laing and Lucas Ralli, though, sacking both of them from their posts in the organisation.

Krystal and the Brighu Palm Leaf Reader: Among Sathya Sai followers, a Brighu palm leaf reader, Kantilal G. Pandya of Bombay, is well-known. The Brighu prophesies are based on Hindu astrology and a collection of palm leaves which are supposedly thousands of years old, having been penned by Sage Brighu. Many Indians have thousands of copied palm leaves (‘nadi’) of the book of Brighu (as well as other sages’ prophesies on palm leaves – eg. The Kumar and Suka Nadi) , like Kumar) His prophesies very seldom come to pass, was endorsed
In her book 'Sai Baba - The Ultimate Experience' Phyllis Krystal endorsed this Pandya strongly for having predicted she would meet Sathya Sai Baba, get his holy ash and so on. Later she realised that she had been duped and denounced Pandya. Sathya Sai Baba has promoted Pandya privately and has sent numerous devotees there to have their fortunes told. In the interests of investigating this phenomenon, my wife and I went for a reading - though we were skeptical about the weird and wonderful claims made for the Brighu nadi and the Suka nadi. This Brighu-nadi reader Pandya's predictions for our lives have very signally failed to come to pass and most have already been shown to be false by events.

To enhance her guru’s fame Phyllis Krystal does nothing to correct false impressions created about her, such as when the UK Sathya Sai Organization published that she had been a speaker at a Public Meeting in (Catholic) Westminster Cathedral, London The episode is documented here

Phyllis Krystal's books: Phyllis Krystal has written a large number of  books about self-healing, books which have sold very well in the New Age marketplace.

Her books are mainly amateur pseudo-psychology of the self-help kind, based entirely on her subjective ideas about what people need to do to free themselves from the "ties that bind" them, an Americanised 'positive thinking' of the 'drop your hang-ups' kind based very much on what Sai Baba says. The main drive is towards removal of worldliness, detachment from human desires, aims and emotions in favour of a do-gooder agenda backed by meditation and ritual. It has what I find to be a sickly 'spiritual' semantic coating and constant implicit reliance on the quite shallow and always vague and anecdotally-based religious 'doctrine' of Sai Baba about personal growth and supposed 'spiritual development' towards self-realization and the eternal liberation of moksha or nirvana amount all too readily to a programme for voluntary self-indoctrination.

Some people may find some relief through the more intelligent parts, but Krystal fails to strike the balance between reality and fantasy. In a sovereign manner, she side-steps all that has been learned through the last century in countless researches and the fruits of experiences with many forms of psychological therapy worldwide! She presents her 'cutting ties' and related inventions as if they were the ultimate answer, all stemming from her supposedly infallible God-guru's unworldly and impossibly unrealistic and speculative teachings. Though I am not any longer a paid-up believer in Freud, Reich, Adler, Jung and co., I think that - in their many deficiencies - they are less dangerous than the self-denial and refutation of unpleasant experience in the New Age fashion that Krystal purveys. I have come to regard much of the kind of 'inner work' she teaches as pseudo-spirituality for impressionable people who are too hung up on a fantasy world and an imagined possible purity of psyche and release from all human suffering, but seldom really productive of authentic self-knowledge or spirituality in everyday life. Her titles are:-

Krystal, Phyllis: 1985: Sai Baba - The Ultimate Experience, Los Angeles, Aura Books. [Reprinted by Samuel Weiser, 1994]
--- 1993: 'Cutting the Ties that Bind', York Beach, Samuel Weiser. (Comment: A hodge podge of exercises and visualization techniques that can be used to learn how to "cut the ties that bind" us to old situations, old behavior patterns, old habits. When we learn to connect with the "High C" or the Real Self, we are able to let go of the past and allow ourselves a new and brighter future.)
--- 1993b: 'Cutting More Ties that Bind' - Letting Go of Fear, Anger, Guilt, and Jealousy so We Can Educate Our Children and Change Ourselves, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
--- 1994: 'Taming Our Monkey Mind'. Insight, Detachment, Identity, York Beach, Samuel Weiser. In Taming Our Monkey Mind, Phyllis Krystal explains how we often allow ourselves to get trapped by our desires. She equates this behavior to the monkey jar or gourd. The fistful of candy is too big to go through the small opening and he can't run from the hunters because his fist is stuck in the jar. Impulsive, curious, impatient, and driven by its senses, the monkey serves to illustrate how the undisciplined mind's attachments can become a prison. By taming our monkey mind-overcoming our greed and desire-we find the way to free ourselves from the material work so we can enter the world of the Divine.
--- 1995 'Cutting the Ties that Bind Workbook', York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
--- 1995b: 'Reconnecting the Love Energy, Don't By-Pass Your Heart', York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
--- 'Cutting the Ties of Karma' "What do we inherit from our family? We inherit karma. We can never "own" anything, so money and possessions are only "loaned" to us. We spend money, or use possessions, but we can't take them with us. In this book, Phyllis Krystal says that karma is like a patchwork quilt, made up of bits and pieces of unfinished business that we bring over from other lifetimes. She explains that we can rid ourselves of these unnecessary "patches" as we discover what they are. Krystal includes exercises to get rid of karma."

In addition two other titles have been published in India: Let’s Thank God and Ceiling on Desires. (Expanded edition) The program outlined in this book was designed by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, to help individuals to gradually reduce wasteful use of money, food, time and energy, in order to have more of each available for their daily needs. Legendary Publishing 176 pages ISBN-13: 978-1-887747-41-7

Phyllis Krystal on channels

What one can fairly say, perhaps, is that Phyllis Krystal's kind of self-deceit is to protect her faith and all that she has invested her life in for decades. The scan on the right shows how she stretches her credibility to accommodate her faith. This does not condone it, for it covers over a multitude of sins - those of Sathya Sai Baba, whose promises are supposed to be as cast in iron and whose healing is infallible etc. After her husband's death, Mrs. Krystal's house was shattered by the Californian earthquake in the '90s, making her homeless, along with her deceased huband's lifelong collection of crystal glass reportedly worth much more than $1 million. (Odd fixation on crystal/Krystal!). As she describes in detail in her book 'The Ultimate Experience', Sathya Sai Baba had himself told her to move to that house, after she had prayed constantly for a very long time and repeatedly asked him whether she could move house! Eventually he had given the go-ahead verbally to her. Devotees, in their great wisdom, regard such things as a boon from Sathya Sai Baba! A test on which to grow! It helps one to detach from worldly things and prepare for the final detachment! This reasoning, when taken to its conclusion means it is a boon when anything or anyone is destroyed, relatives are lost etc., because it prepares one for death! All very acceptable and faith-inducing, no doubt!

All evidence that Sathya Sai Baba does not heal, does not keep his word, or is not able to heal people of himself has to be refuted by the 'true believer', which Phyllis Krystal most undoubtedly is. Her agenda is totally to block out all experience that may lead to another explanation or in any way be interpreted to reduce her rock-solid belief that her Swami is the divine healer, God himself. Even devotees who feel the need to keep up a front despite themselves not having been healed according to Sathya Sai Baba's promise will convince themselves that they have been helped... and even lie about this like Mrs. Phyllis Krystal did.

Perhaps a kind of self-deceit to protect one's faith, partly a desire not to admit doubts to oneself or others and thereby publicly embarrass the guru, whose promises are supposed to be as cast in iron and whose healings are infallible etc. Later, Mrs. Krystal's house was shattered by the Californian earthquake in the 90s, making her homeless, along with her deceased huband's lifelong collection of crystal glass reportedly worth much more than $1 million. As she describes in detail in her book 'The Ultimate Experience', Sathya Sai Baba had himself told her to move to that house, after she had prayed constantly for a very long time and repeatedly asked him whether she could move house! Eventually he had given the go-ahead verbally to her. Devotees, in their great wisdom, regard such things as a boon from Sathya Sai Baba! It helps one to detach from worldly things and prepare for the final detachment! This reasoning, when taken to its conclusion means it is a boon when anything is destroyed, relatives are lost etc., because it prepares one for death! All very acceptable and faith-inducing, no doubt!

The Dutch ex-devotee and psychologist Chris Dokter wrote to me about Mrs. Krystal as follows:-"

"Mrs. Krystal, now 97 years of age and residing in Zurich, Switzerland, is still in the business of spreading her method, to the tune of 540 Euro per session, no less!! I had the dubious fortune myself to be the recipient of her ‘individual’ counsel back in the late eighties, when she was one of the main figureheads and ‘middle-(wo)men’ between His Holiness Sai Baba and His more common, well-educated Western devotees: to sum my interview with her up in a nutshell, it was little more than the cultlike, spiritistical drivel you can expect from any con artist from all over the world, with the possible exception that she seems so self-deluded that she utterly believes in her ‘high connections’. By not retracting her support to His Late Greatness Sai Baba, and not addressing the very serious charges made against the notorious master and/or downplaying them, she is in my opinion guilty of a grave sin of omission.

Personally I find it both sad and ironic, that Mrs. Krystal, as so many other ‘otherworldly’ celebrities, seems to have so eerily much in common with her more down-to-earth equivalents, especially in their never ending desire to accumulate exorbitant amounts of money. In itself this is maybe not surprising but the incongruence between her adamant advocacy of practicing ceiling on desires on the one hand and her greed and implicit self-aggrandizement on the other strikes me as particularly poignant. The fact that Mrs. Krystal demands such ludicrous fees for advice she proclaims does not even stem from her individually takes the whole business to a height of (a high C of) hypocrisy, only topped by amoral mortals like her master himself, as far as I am concerned. from Chris Dokter, The Netherlands.

I replied: "Mrs. Krystal’s first book (Cutting the Ties that Bind) was written long after she became a Sai devotee. Its contents are virtually all Sathya Sai Baba doctrine, clothed in her interpretations of this from her New Age interest in symbols, the I Ching, the meaning of dreams and ‘visualisation’ techniques and much else yet more esoteric. Nothing ground-breaking nor in the least new to me – over simplistic and too unself-critical, I recognised -as I had already long studied symbols, dreams, visualization… and meditation (as did countless others who became seekers from the 50s and 60s). She was into reading about ‘high C’, I can agree. But otherwise? Well, she first heard of Sathya Sai Baba in 1972 and was impressed by his eyes in a book were very penetrating, whereupon she became “fascinated”. She had an apartment as soon as the third Roundhouse opened (We stayed in it shortly thereafter). I was present in the interview in 1986 where Mr. and Mrs. Krystal first gave Sai Baba at copy of her Baba hagiography, somewhat boastfully called “The Ultimate Experience” (nothing in the book gave any sense that Phyllis K. had any ultimate experience, not did my subsequent contacts with her convince me that she had any form of higher awareness, in fact – more to the contrary. Further, her husband was a multi-millionarie – who collected crystal glass (!!) – and had a huge and very valuable collection. It was totally destroyed, along with her house, in the San Fran. earthquake. She was a Sai-vip and no mistake, but while teaching (preaching) on ‘Ceiing on Desires’ in Copenhagen she was living at the very most expensive hotel in that city! She was born in UK and her way of speaking and behavioural traits told me instinctively just where she was coming from (it’s like that sometime with people have have grown up in the same environment) By then she had taken on a layer of new persona in the US an accent and the near-gushing Californian New Age style (on stage, at least). Her presence was such that jarred with any idea of her having become very enlightened. I felt repeatedly that she was playing a preset role ( if she had reached any “high-C”. it must have been quite temporary, as I find to apply to virtually all cases of exceptional states of consciousness until otherwise proven)." Robert

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