"Spiritual Slaves"

September 2001
By a former Sri Chinmoy Center participant

A legitimate organization certainly may have rules. Often those rules may fall well within democratic constitutional rights and also frequently reflect a sense of fairness. But the "rules" at the Sri Chinmoy Center seem designed to control disciples, self respect, trust and individual self-determination. These rules also seem to keep disciples in a state of child-like dependency upon Sri Chinmoy. And additionally, place disciples in a constant state of striving for some imaginary standard of "perfection."

A "perfect" disciple is ideally obedient, surrendered and totally dependent. Often disciples are apparently manipulated to "break" a rule. That is, they are put in a double bind. Such a process can break down individual resistance and solidify identification with the group.

Humiliation and shaming are tools, which can also be used to break down anyone who does not "get with the program." And getting with the program seems to mean blindly accepting everything and "obeying" the guru without question. If followers are not compliant they will be accused of breaking a rule and/or be coerced into a situation where a rule is likely to be broken. After that there comes punishment, and an opportunity to "repent" publicly. Only then can members be truly accepted back into the fold.

Sri Chinmoy's disciples appear to experience a form of "relief" through this manipulative process, which ultimately solidifies their subjective belief that the group "is a good thing after all." Every disciple truly believes he or she is making "progress"--when they fall into line and become obedient.

The Guru may give his disciples rewards through some sort of special attention. This type of teaching process is reminiscent of being punished as a child, but then Mommy prepares a favorite dessert. And the child then promises to "never ever be bad again."

In the Sri Chinmoy Center grown men and woman are often referred to as "boys and girls," rather than men and women. This is just one subtle aspect of indoctrination, which again solidifies and strengthens a kind of personal regression.

Many disciples are proud of the "warnings" they receive from the Guru. They see such "warnings" as proof that the Guru "cares" about them. There are those disciples who openly brag about these "warnings." Because they believe Sri Chinmoy only gives warnings and punishments to the disciples he really cares about. They also see the older disciples going through the same process of warnings, punishment, banishment, repentance, and forgiveness, and so younger disciples feel proud when they finally get their first warning and punishment. They may wear this like a badge of honor.

Carlos Santana talked about Sri Chinmoy in a "Rolling Stone" Interview. He described a certain attitude he experienced when he left the center saying that Chinmoy "was pretty vindictive for a while. He told all my friends not to call me ever again, because I was to drown in the dark sea of ignorance for leaving him."

Santana's experience is a good example of the unreasonable fear and extreme indoctrination that goes on within this group. Disciples have been told they will get cancer if they leave.

The Sri Chinmoy Center is a type of "high control" group. Every aspect of one's life is eventually controlled by Sri Chinmoy. From who you talk to and associate with as well as what you think. When leaders coerce their followers to believe they posses the right to control every aspect of a devotee's life--this is likely and expression of "thought reform" [commonly called "brainwashing"]. And by imposing impossible standards for "purity" and convincing believers that their spiritual survival is dependent upon meeting those standards, a group creates a double bind.

Breaking the "rules" within such an environment is inevitable. Then the group may then induce a sense of guilt, shame and humiliation, by casting followers out of the fold. And only by going through a process of "repentance" and "begging" for forgiveness, can anyone be permitted to return. Disciples must promise to obey.

The process I have just described is creates spiritual slaves.

Sri Chinmoy's disciples believe that they are on the fast track to enlightenment. But instead they may have unknowingly become his spiritual slaves.

Copyright © 2001 Rick Ross.

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