Über das gar nicht so heilige Leben eines Gurus (Englisch)
Erfahrungsbericht der früheren Leiterin des Sri Chinmoy-Centers in San Francisco
I joined the center in 1971 and became the leader of the San Francisco Center, along with my husband (now ex-husband). I had never known such bliss—I was part of a spiritual family that offered unconditional love from a guru. The first two years were heaven as I moved quickly into the guru’s coveted inner circle.
In 1973, Ghose (as I now call the guru) embarked on a 50-state lecture tour. I was in charge of organizing lectures in several western states. As the organizer, I was invited to secretly travel alone with Ghose to tend to his needs in Alaska. I accompanied him with disbelieve that I would be allowed to carry his personal things, hold his coat during his talk, and unpack and pack his suitcase in the hotel.
After the talk at the university, Ghose and I took a cab back to the hotel where we had separate rooms. He invited me into his room. I sat with my hands folded, cross-legged on the floor in front of him as he sat on a soft chair. He started by saying that I was a very advanced soul and that he was very pleased with me. He said he wanted to test the purity of my vital. „Do you have impure thoughts and feelings?“ he asked. I told him I sometimes felt pressure in my groin and that I felt guilty about it because I didn’t know where it came from. He said that if I were truly surrendered to him, he could purify me.
He then told me to touch him. I timidly touched his foot with the tip of one of my fingers, afraid that my impurity would cause him great pain (as he always claimed human impurity did). „No, no,“ he said. „Come close and embrace me.“ I stood up, walked to his side, bent over, and gently put my arms around him. Without any physical response, he said, „Very good. Now sit down.“
I sat down and he said, „Good girl, take your clothes off.“ Immediately I started doubting my guru’s purity, my first serious doubt of my then two-year discipleship. I pushed the doubt away. Maybe I hadn’t heard him correctly. He repeated his command and I knew I’d heard it right. When he saw my hesitation, he said, „You don’t have to do this. If you don’t want to, I will never ask you again. This is my gift to you, to purify you. It is your soul’s request to me that I do this for you. But if you do not want to, I will still love you unconditionally.“
„So this was a one-time event that would purify me,“ I thought. Isn’t purity of my vital a major step on the way to God-realization, the very thing I had come to the spiritual path for? Besides, I was an advanced soul, one that was ready for such a blessing. And if I didn’t take this opportunity, I may never get another chance in this incarnation. It seemed foolish and unspiritual not to do it.
I took my sari off, feeling self-conscious of my body as he sat and watched through his partially open eyes. When I was naked, he told me to lie down on the bed. He lay on top of me, still wearing his satin kurta and dotti. I could feel only the weight of his body on mine, as he wiggled back and forth mechanically. I was relieved to think that maybe this was the treatment, nothing more. But slowly I started to feel his small erection through his dotti.
Then he took his dotti off and inserted his penis into me. He moved up and down mechanically, as if this was something new to him and he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. From time to time he said,
„This is my union with you. This is my oneness with you. This is my unconditional love for you.“ There was absolutely no passion, no kissing, no fondling, no touching—just plain sex.
Finally he came inside me. Then he got up and told me to put my sari back on. While I got dressed, he told me I must never tell anyone about this. Not Alo, not Lavanya, not Ranjana, and not my husband. No one must ever know. He gave me a few hundred dollars, I promised never to tell, and I left the room.
The next day he asked me how I felt. I said that I was confused because I still felt pressure in my groin. „Oh, it is like a hat,“ he said. „When you’ve been wearing a hat for a long time, you can still feel the hat on your head even after you take it off.“
I flew back to San Francisco with a powerful secret, one that I believed was momentous in my spiritual life. I was closer than ever to my spiritual father, and I had been purified.
The next time I went to New York, Ghose told me to come to his house for more lessons in purity. I was surprised that my first lesson in Alaska was not to be my only one, as I originally thought. As it turned out, these „blessings“ happened several times a year for the next 15 years–every time I came to New York, every time he came to San Francisco, and every time we traveled in small or large groups. The sex was always accompanied by money, amounting to about $10,000 a year. The sex we had in Jamaica was always on the floor, either in his basement or in one of his upstairs studies, never in his bed. He told me always to use a diaphragm, except when we were traveling to another country where it might be discovered in my luggage when going through customs.
After a few years, I grew tired of the emotionless, mechanical sex, especially because I didn’t feel that it was purifying my vital. Once when I showed resistance to coming to his home in Queens, he threatened never to ask me again and to exclude me from his inner circle. I was afraid of falling from my first-class status so I begged for his forgiveness and ran to his house immediately. He said, „Always show eagerness to please me in this way.“ I never again complained to him about having sex with him. I went to him each time, often walking the dangerous streets of Jamaica, Queens in the wee hours of the morning when his security guards were told not to patrol the neighborhood.
For a long time I believed that I was the only one having sex with the guru. It wasn’t until years into my involvement that I began to suspect that Lavanya and Ranjana were having sex with Ghose (something I never knew for sure) because of the familiar, intimate way they behaved around him. I pushed my suspicions out of my mind.
For a brief time I was flying to Los Angeles once a week to lead public meditations in an effort to start a center there. An ex-disciple started coming to the meetings, and showed interest in rejoining the center. Ghose was very encouraging of her re-entry until the woman mentioned to me that a former well-known disciple had told her that Ghose had had sex with her. When I told Ghose what she had said, he shouted, „Lies!“ He told me to call her immediately and tell her that his path was not meant for her, she should never attend another meeting, and that I should never mention her „lie“ to anyone. It made me wonder if I really was the only one, but again I pushed the idea out of my mind, not wanting it to be true.
When Ghose got into weight lifting, he became obsessed with measuring his muscles. Along with that came an obsession with the size of his penis (which was smaller than the smallest, to put it in his way of speaking). He assigned me the task of finding a way to increase its size. A magic cream, pill, anything to make it bigger. I secretly read books, articles, and ads about penal enhancement but ultimately found the bottom line was passion. When I suggested that our sex have passion, he shut his eyes and said, „No, good girl. Keep searching.“
At about this time, Ghose started using another phrase while he had sex with me. In addition to „This is my oneness with you,“ he would sometimes say, „I am a brute“ as he was pumping me. He told me he learned that from an article he’d read in a magazine down on Jamaica Avenue. (About once a week, he would have a disciple drop him off on Jamaica Avenue where he would shop and then have a cab bring him home. I guess that’s when he browsed the magazine racks.)
I became pregnant twice. The first time he told me to go for an abortion the next day. The cost was $80, which he said he would pay. Alone, I took a cab to the clinic, where I underwent the abortion and then took a cab home. The prescribed antibiotics made me very sick but I couldn’t show anyone, especially my husband, that I was ill for fear that somehow my condition would be discovered. That night I called Ghose in Brazil, where he was on vacation with Ranjana and Lavanya. When I told him what had happened, he said, „The doctors lied to you! You were never pregnant, they just wanted your money.“ Then he said he had to get off the phone so Ranjana and Lavanya wouldn’t hear him talking to someone on the phone, and that I shouldn’t call him back. As I hung up the phone, I couldn’t believe that the doctors had lied, I doubted Ghose’s irrational response, and felt abandoned by him, the only person in whom I could confide.
I wanted to stop these relations with him but was afraid to assert myself for fear of angering him. So I went on pretending to be devoted and eager. In 1982, my husband left the center with another woman disciple. No wonder, given that I had become a stranger to him due to my secret affair with our mutual spiritual father.
A few years later, I again got pregnant after an international trip with the guru. He again told me to have an abortion. The night before the procedure, I miscarried and right before my eyes was a tiny fetus about the size of the first joint of my thumb. There was no question that I had been pregnant, no matter what Ghose might say this time. I put the baby on a paper plate and took it with me in the cab to the Emergency Room of San Francisco General Hospital. By the time the doctors saw me, I had completely aborted and they sent me home in the cab, my pants completely soaked with blood. Except for Ghose and the doctors, no one ever knew what had transpired that night until years later.
Another time when Ghose was returning alone from his trip to India, he had a layover in Los Angeles. He called me from India and instructed me to meet him at LAX and to reserve a hotel room for us to go to. I used my credit card to make the room reservation, and got a flight that was scheduled to arrive 45 minutes before his flight arrived. All went as planned until I got on the tarmac in LA. The plane was delayed for an hour before arriving at the gate. Once off the plane, I rushed the long way to the international terminal and to the gate where Ghose’s plane had already disembarked. He was nowhere to be seen. Knowing his habits, I figured he would be in either a nearby gift shop or restaurant. He wasn’t in the gift shop, so I went to the restaurant. There I saw my balding guru with his back to me at a counter. As I got closer, I saw that he was ravenously ripping chicken off the bone like an animal. I timidly said, „Guru?“ He spun around and said, „They lied to me. They said this wasn’t meat!“ I was shocked, not because he was eating meat (after all, in my eyes, he was an incarnation of God), but because he was clearly lying and was filled with guilt. He threw down the meat, jumped up, and said, „Let us go.“
I explained that there wasn’t time to go to the hotel before his flight. „It’s your fault. Why did you get here late? Why didn’t you come on an earlier flight?“ he demanded.
„The flight was delayed an hour, out of my control. Now we’ve lost the hotel reservation because it’s too late.“ I said.
„If you had used your credit card, we would still have the room,“ he accused.
„I did use my credit card, but we don’t have time now.“ I said, defending myself against this illogical progression, while thinking that his accusations really seemed to be a defense to my having caught him with a mouthful of meat.
„This all went wrong because your mind was in the gutter,“ he said. I certainly didn’t feel like my consciousness was in the gutter, but what could I say given that he alone had access to the world of consciousness. I was forced to accept the blame.
He handed me several one hundred dollar bills and rushed onto the plane as soon as the plane started boarding, eager to get away from me. As I returned to San Francisco, I experienced a level of anger and hurt I had never felt. I knew my days in the center were numbered.
Aside from my sexual dilemma with Ghose, I had serious problems with the politics of the inner circle. I witnessed meanness, coercion, and deception on the part of „first-class“ disciples. It became more and more painful for me to be in Ghose’s house; I often found excuses not to go there when I was invited.
Whenever I indicated I was having doubt or that I wanted to leave the center, Ghose would tell me to come to NY where he would sweeten me up, have sex, and give me special projects to make me feel important.
It usually worked and I would return to San Francisco to hang on for another three or four months. After several of my open attempts at leaving, Ghose saw that the handwriting was on the wall and he started turning people against me. I was singled out and humiliated in large and small group meetings, disciples were told not to talk to me for more than 10 minutes, he would choose other disciples for special privileges that were previously reserved for me.
I became more determined to get out of the center, and for the last two years of my discipleship, I practiced trickery and deception as I planned my exit. For example, I would lie about having a flat tire so I could avoid attending meditations; I started friendships outside the center; I hired a therapist to get me through the transition; and just before the 1988 April celebration when we were all expected to go to New York, I secretly rented an apartment and, at night, moved all my belonging into it. About five days before my planned exit from the center, a snoopy disciple discovered my empty room and reported it to Ghose. I got a phone call from him that went like this:
„Oi, good girl, you are breaking my heart. You are breaking my heart.“
I cut in, „Stop right there. I don’t believe in you. I don’t believe in what you’re doing. And I don’t want any part of what you’re doing.“
„If you must leave then I will not stop you,“ he said. „And I will never say anything bad about you. I will never say anything bad about you. I will tell the disciples to always help you with anything you need. You have my phone number, you can call me. Anything you need I will give you. Money, help, anything. I will never say anything bad about you. And I’m sure you will never say anything bad about me…“
„Look,“ I said. „I promise never to say anything bad about you if you promise never to contact me in person, in writing, by phone, or through a disciple. You will leave me alone.“
„Very good,“ Ghose said, „I will leave you alone, I will never say anything bad about you, and you will never say anything bad about me.“
„Fine,“ I said. „I want to get off the phone now. Good bye.“ And I hung up the phone on him. It felt good to have the final word.
A few days later, he broke his promise by having a disciple slip an envelope under my door with a handwritten note from him and $700 in cash. Then a few months later, a disciple called with a message. A few years later, a disciple called to say that Ghose was coming to San Francisco and he wanted to have a private meeting with me in his hotel room. I declined. And from time to time a disciple will still call, claiming that Ghose doesn’t know anything about the call. In such cases, the conversations are polite but brief. Since that handwritten note slipped under my door, I have had no direct contact or financial dealings with Ghose.
It’s been 13 years since I left the center. My work with a therapist revealed that my discipleship with Ghose was a form of incest. As in a typical incestuous relationship, sex was accompanied by money and secrecy. The greatest power he held over me was the secrecy, which I demolished four years after leaving the center by telling my ex-husband about the sex I’d had with the Guru during most of our marriage.
I now have a rewarding life and career. Most importantly, I have never regretted leaving Ghose; I often regret having stayed with him so long.