The Old Guard

Telling the Truth

Recognizing Mahatmas

Yogis with Ego

Spiritual Leaders’ Powers

Old & New Devotees

Silent Teaching

Swamiji Doesn’t Forget

A Yogi’s Dramas

Associations with the Famous

Guru Brothers & Sisters

Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams

Bhava Samadhi

Explaining Swamiji’s
Use of Spiritual Experiences

The book Swamiji recommended

Perspectives on the Mission Today

About this Writer’s Corner


news about Swamiji & devotees




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  Telling the Truth
—  Yogis Don't Spin the Truth

  Recognizing Mahatmas
—  Get to Know Them

  Yogis with Ego 
—  Not Everyone Who Completes Tapas Is without Ego

  Spiritual Leaders’ Powers 
—  Not All that Glitters Is Gold

  Old & New Devotees 
—  Making Way for the New

  Silent Teaching 
—  Swamiji Discouraged Using Words to Teach Meditation or Describe Spiritual Experiences

  Swamiji Doesn’t Forget  —  Remembering His Devotees

  A Yogi’s Dramas  —  The Shiva in Shivabalayogi

  Associations with the Famous  —  If Swamiji is famous, it is because he has done twelve years of tapas

  Guru Brothers & Sisters  —  It Makes Sense Only If You Add It All Up

  Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams  —  A true yogi doesn’t tell others what to do; ashrams are for devotees.

The Shiva in Shivabalayogi

Shivabalayogi did some crazy things that made no sense.  Devotees today do some crazy things that make no sense.  So what’s the difference?

I think the difference is ego.

Shivabalayogi did stir up trouble.  Yashoda nicknamed him Narada after the ancient sage famous for stirring up trouble.  But whatever crazy dramas Shivabalayogi created, I don’t see how he got anything out of it.  On the contrary, if he was interested in becoming popular, then on the face of it, his dramas pushed people away.

I innocently suggested the idea of a non-profit corporation instead of a trust for Swamiji’s work.  He angrily lectured me, in front of the Portland devotees, that he knew more about the law than I did.  I was afraid to argue, although I didn’t understand.  Later I came to appreciate several reasons why he jumped on me.  Among other reasons, every trust he created effectively terminated upon his mahasamadhi.  They were drafted to require a successor, and he never appointed any.  If any of those trusts continue today, it is because of legal maneuvering that no one can attribute to Swamiji.  He was very clever and he knows people very well.

Swamiji got angry at tour organizers for, on the face of it, very small indiscretions.  One devotee traveled half way around the world to be with Swamiji, only to be publicly humiliated and accused of misconduct which was literally untrue.  Swamiji shouted at some Western devotees who entertained company in their ashram rooms.  Others doing the same thing, he didn’t mind.  When a meditation retreat was organized in North Carolina, he angrily made the organizers return all the money they had collected, and a great opportunity to broaden Shivabalayogi’s appeal was lost.  You can read about that incident in Spiritual Retreats.  I have already mentioned how Swamiji ruined a television opportunity in Santa Fe by arguing that monks ought not become political leaders.  See Telling the Truth.

Some who were the objects of Swamiji’s anger later shared what they learned from their experience.  In a few cases, I felt the person never did get the point, but that’s only my interpretation.  Whatever the intended lesson for any of Swamiji’s dramas, my point is that I can’t see how Swamiji got anything out of it.

My favorite story about the anger of a yogi is from the life of Shirdi Sai Baba.  There are many stories about Shirdi Sai Baba’s dramas, particularly demanding money for miracles in an amount which was exactly what the person was carrying or hiding at the time.  Baba always gave away all the money he collected before the day was out.  He would also throw rocks at people to chase them away.  His life is a treasury of dramas.  See, for example, Arthur Osborne’s short book, The Incredible Sai Baba.  That was where I read my favorite story, Baba chasing Megha away.

Shirdi Sai Baba

Megha was a devout Brahmin and a devotee of Lord Shiva.  A friend talked him into visiting Shirdi by describing Baba as an incarnation of Shiva.  When Megha got to the train station, he learned that Baba was a Muslim.  Megha was horrified at the idea of having to bow before a Muslim, so he begged to be excused from going.  His friend insisted and Megha went reluctantly.

Even before Megha stepped inside the ruined mosque where Baba lived, Baba shouted out, “Throw that scoundrel out!”  Baba also turned on the friend who had brought Megha, berating him for having brought such a crude and narrow minded person.

A year or so later, Megha felt genuinely drawn to Shirdi.  This time he wasn’t chased away and he stayed with Baba and served him for the rest of his life.  When Megha died, Baba shed tears and said, “This was a true devotee of mine.”

The Divine Mother, an immeasurable ocean of compassion, is depicted with a necklace of human skulls.  Shiva is described as bhaktava vashankara, easily won over by devotion.  He also has a name, Hara, which means Destroyer.  It was that Shiva in Swamiji that drew so many of us to him.

Invariably, when Swamiji was shouting at one person, everyone else in the room was getting blissed out.  In my own experience, I tried not to take the shouting personally and I also got blissed out.  But I had some help.  The week before Swamiji had shouted at another devotee and she told me how she just took it and felt blissed.  So her own experience helped me not resist when Swamiji shouted at me.

I accepted and loved the Shiva in Swamiji because I knew enough about him to trust him.  I saw no ego in him.  Which is why I place Shivabalyogi in a different category.  It’s very different for me if someone who has shown ego tries to act the role of Shiva.