Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lies, half-truths, and bizarre distortions in the service of the Lord

Goldeneye posted the following in comments below:

If you noticed that some of my posts about Adi Da and Adidam are on the positive side and some on the negative then you might think it a strange thing. Fact is, there is a lot of positive stuff about them. The whole issue of FLO is squashed when one either attains mystical union with Da or is truly engaged in sadhana with him. Then, when you read what appears to be ego-basking, you accept it immediately with joy.The problem comes when one hears tales of abuse within Adidam and by Adi Da. I can't seem to find anything but Beverley O'Mohoney's story in the Rick Ross site. One incident doesn't help much to convince one that Da is a monster. I want to hear Broken Yogi's accounts of abuse within Adidam. Until then, the Biblical remark about being able to know a false prophet by their fruits remains the only accurate consideration available.

I too have experienced and posted about many positive sides to Adi Da and to Adidam itself. But the tales of abuse are not mere tales, they are simple facts of life. Not all the stories I've heard on the Daism Forum are true, but from my long experience in the Adidam community the simple truth is that the Daism Forum actually far undereports the abuse factor rather than overreports it. A lot of what has gone on over the years is harrowing and hair-raising, and I don't know anyone who has much real inner-circle experience in Adidam who would deny that. They are actually rather proud of it. They just can't say so publically. Sometimes they do, and get in a bit of trouble for it. They are very careful about who they will talk to and what they will let out. Plenty of them have talked to me about it, though, and while I'm not much for kiss-and-tell, I've said a few things now and then about it all, which if you've read my postings on the Daism Forum should be enough to give some idea of it all. But maybe not. Maybe outsiders don't really get a full picture of the abuses that occur in Adidam simply because, to be honest, most of the people who know just don't talk much about specifics. I'd have to include myself in that.

Getting highly specific would require a journalistic approach of really investigating each incident, and would involve breaking the personal confidences of people involved. Who has time for all that work? Who wants to hurt people who trusted you? I have somewhat mixed feelings about it all, and the more distant those events are in my mind the less I care to say about them, at least in the journalistic sense of wanting to document what goes on in Adidam. For me, the widespread existence of abuse in Adidam has never been an issue of fact. I was aware of it at least in a general sense from the very earliest times I came, back in the mind 1970's, when these things weren't much hidden at all, and people talked much more freely about Bubba's "teaching method". By the 80's this had changed entirely. By then the information access in Adidam had shut down to a trickle, and most people who joined had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. That remains true to this day. All of that is rationalized as "protecting the Guru".

As mentioned on the Daism site, the general policy in Adidam is that only good news gets reported, and this creates a culture of lies. It works both ways. Adi Da is not supposed to hear bad news, so Adidam for years resembled a Stalinist cabal, where all the bad news was kept secret from the leader, and he was fed lie after lie about the glorious happiness of his loyal followers. Likewise, people outside the inner circle were not to hear bad news or stories of Adida's abuse of both people around him, or his abuse of drugs, alcohol, and sex. Or, if some such stories were to get out, they would be described in a "spiritual context". In essence, only Good News was to get either in or out. The guardians of the inner circle were thus the only ones who knew the full picture of what was going on. This gave them an incredible feeling of power and responsibility. Lying to both sides of the community was taken to be a kind of sacred puja of service to God. Of course, the people became very twisted up and perverted inside by this life of lying, but they generally took pride in being able to "handle it".

Most devotees couldn't handle it. I've had many conversations with inner circle people about this issue of lying, and it's kind of fascinating to hear people rationalize it. You would literally think that it was some kind of spiritual path to enlightenment to hear them describe it. To them it was almost the epitome of devotion to their Guru, because of the sacrifice it required on their part. To them, telling the truth would have been the easy way out, and they even looked down on me when I advocated telling the truth, as if I were just not advanced enough to understand the subtleties of the art of devotional lying. I would advocate telling Adi Da the truth about the community, and telling the community the truth about Adi Da, and on both counts was always shot down as hopelessly naive and "stuck on integrity". And I'm talking about conversations at the very highest levels of Adidam, not some local mid-level bureaucrat.

You want specifics? Well, let me give a few harmless examples so as not to reveal too much embarassing information to the parties involved. In January 1996 the Mummery was performed at the MOA, and I think it may have been the first time that Adi Da was present for it, so it was a very big deal. I was on retreat at the time, so I was seated up front, and even participated as an extra in some of the scenes. Before the show, James Steinberg gave a presentation about the Mummery, stressing in his usual uptight way how this wasn't a theatrical show, it was a very serious Puja, and we should treat it that way. By the end of his presentation everyone was put in a very solemn mood, and carried that mood into the performance. During the first half of the show everyone was as reserved as churchgoers, and when intermission came, Adi Da lef the room and word came back that he was very upset that no one was laughing or responding to the performance. Brian O'Mahoney, then CEO of the community, came in and gave everyone an angry dressing down for not laughing at the funny parts of the play, and not showing any outward expressions of appreciation. When he finished, I got up and intercepted Brian to talk with him before he got back to Adi Da. I told him the reason everyone had been so reserved and uptight was that James had told them to treat the show as a literal Puja, not a theatrical performance. Brian asked me what I wanted him to do, and I said why don't you just tell Adi Da the truth, what James had said, and assure him that this was the reason people seemed so reserved. It wasn't that they weren't enjoying the performance, it was just that they didn't realize it was okay to be outwardly expressive. Brian looked at me like I'd told him to piss in Adi Da's face. He angrily rejected my idea, and said that it would make Adi Da even angrier to know that someone as important as James, who was entrusted with establishing right relationship between Da and his devotees, had erred in so critical a way in his presentation, than to think that it was the community that was simply uptight and unresponsive. So instead of telling the truth, Brian would allow Da to think this was all the community's fault, rather than the fault of the precious insiders. When I persisted, Brian just told me to do my job, and he'd do his. Of course, now the situation was even worse, and for the second half of the show the audience didn't know what to do. They now laughed self-consciously and nervously at every potentially funny moment, rather than naturally and easefully, which made the whole experience even wierder. In short, they felt double-whammied, first by James, then by Brian, and they had no idea how to react, all they knew is that they were somehow guilty of doing the wrong thing.

And that tiny incident is Adidam in a nutshell. I could tell much worse stories, but I hope you get the picture. When people feel they need to lie about such tiny matters as these on a daily basis, how much do you think they will lie about major matters of far greater import? Lying becomes a way of life, such that truth itself seems untrue to them, and the lying is the only truth they know. This is where cognitive dissonance is taken to its logical end, and you have what could truly be called brainwashing. Here it's the brainwashers themselves who have become the most brainwashed people, because they can literally not tell the difference anymore between the lies they tell and the truth. The lie literally becomes more important than the truth, because it's the lie that keeps you going. And Adidam is built on so many lies at so many levels that it is literally just a charade, a joke, that everyone involved can hardly take seriously, but they keep it going because they need the show to go on.

Now this isn't to say that everything in Adidam is a lie. Far from it. It's just that from inside Adidam, the lies are virtually indistinguishable from the truth. They have become so interwoven that both seem indispensible to one another. There really are Divine truths within Adidam, and real experience of the Divine. And side by side with that truth is a whole pastiche of lies and deceptions that boggle the mind. Separating the two is not only difficult, it is considered a heresy within Adidam, because it would mean identifying the true as true, and the false as false, then throwing away the false and keeping the true, which would literally destroy everything that Adidam has built up so far and require rebuilding it from scratch, and that is just way too much work for Adi Da and everyone else involved to do. They literally wouldn't have a clue where to begin. Adi Da and the rest of his inner circle are simply too old for something as creative as that, and it would threaten the world they've created for themselves. So instead he just pretends that everything he's done has been perfect, and is just a victim of everyone else's disbelief in him. Kind of like Yuri Geller on the Johnny Carson show.

If you go to the "esoteric" level, the same pattern holds true. So Adi Da's dharma can be read as Divinely Inspired by devotees, and as megalomaniacal treacle by outsiders. If you read Carolyn Lee's widely distributed felatiography of Adi Da, The Promised God-Man Is Here, you will find that there is a Divine Reason for everything Adi Da does, and the fact that it is literally riddled with lies, half-truths, and bizarre distortions of fact does not seem to alter that - it simply means that these lies, half-truths, and bizarre distortions also have a Divine Reason behind them. I spoke with Carolyn shortly after the first edition was published, and she admitted to me that she completely lost control of the project shortly after she agreed to write it, that she was required to say and put into the book many things that she didn't want to do, by none other than Adi Da and his inner circle themselves. As a devotee, she felt obliged to go along with this, because of course they knew better than she. I remember looking sadly at this shallow shadow of a woman, and feeling rather sorry for her. This is a woman who had gone through rigorous training in universities, gotten a Ph.D., been taught to discriminate between facts and fiction, and who was now reduced to writing propaganda for a sleazy cult machine. I could only think of Orwell and Stalin and how what happens to people who give in to bullshit is far worse than what happens to people who resist it. Yes, she got to be a bona-fide inner circle member, but the price she paid for it was her own soul. She could now be trusted to lie for the sake of truth, and once you do that you are forever under the thumb of those you lie for. It's a sad fate for anyone, and I feel sorry for those poor souls who have taken on that karma in Adidam. It distorts them beyond belief.

More later on the "good side" of Adidam.


Anonymous said...

thanks BY for anchoring your insights with real life examples. but like you said, it gets very complicated when you begin to violate others' trust. but if you believe that the truth is more important than others' clinging to deceit, i think the collateral damage involves only minimal karma for you. anyway, great piece! derek

Randy said...

Hey Conrad,

This was a great post and I was very happy to find your blog - I stopped hanging out at the Daist Forum after you left, especially after Elias's behavior towards you shortly thereafter. In any case, I couldn't agree more with you about the lies and lack of integrity and it saddens me to no end, especially considering all the time and energy I invested in believing it all. I'm putting my own blog back online and it includes a classic post of yours that describes very well the way Adidam works and why it will never change....


Randog (woof)

Goldeneye said...

Thanks for the response, Conrad. You are doing a service for others who might otherwise make the mistake of investing heavily their time and money in Adidam. There is the more serious situation of giving one's will and emotions over to a guru who is not accountable for and therefor your recollections about life with Adi Da are entirely necessary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Conrad..I've been surfing the net since Da's passing and came across your blog... I was a sincere student in the FDC for 7 years in the mid '80's ...and this simple story really describes the Orwellian nightmare that was the ultimate trigger for me leaving...Towards the end of my time in the cult
I wanted to find out how to speak the "truth" about how I felt, and find out the truth of what was happening re: the inner circle.I left when I realized, after many, many months of trying to do this that there was no way to know what was really going on unless you "advanced" into the inner circle, and the only way to do this, was to lie through your teeth...I experienced cognitive dissonance, was told to "suspend my dis-belief" and felt that I was losing my mind...the "men" told me that this was my ego dissolving...thank Buddha that I intuitively felt "NO! this may be ego boundaries dissolving, but this is not true spiritual life"
I sat with the "men" and talked about my truth with great openess, vulnerability and feeling. I was torn to shreds by their righteous cultic un-feeling minds.This trust in my own open heart and not the cultic head made leaving the only sane choice. I personally experienced abuse; being locked in a room with BS and JB and shouted at and threatened for hours until I broke down crying, then told, "At last, the real person had been revealed". I knew at the time that this was not the real me but the broken, abused me, but stayed in for more abuse...convincing myself that BS and JB, 2 "priests" may be fuck-head control freaks , but Da was unaware of this abuse in his name. Even after finding out about some of his abuses I convinced myself that this was all divine theatre or crazy wisdom. So powerful is the doublespeak. However, I still maintain that I learnt a lot...I'll never get fooled again, I trust my own judgement and I don't regret my time in the club. I still think the early literature is wonderful, especially before the cultic guru phase really took off e.g. "Method of" and "Gom-Boo" I still miss my cult friends, who, of course, demonized me as soon as I left. I was hounded, be-littled and told I was a traitor and self-guruing.
Amazing how the abuse from on high filtered right the way down, such is the power of the cultic collective ego! I feel sad for all the well-meaning sincere people still locked into the Wizard of Oz, terrible cultic illusion. Maybe his death will free up some of them! After I left,I shunned spiritual pursuits for years and studied Western psychotherapy and found that life is the best guru there is and self-understanding begins with understanding your self...shadow an'all.If only Da had undergone some therapy! Then, after many years of avoidance, spiritual life began to happen all of it's own accord..evolution is inevitable! As far as Daddy-Da's passing....so sad to see such profound potential thrown away so tragically. Now, the sharks will be circling in for the millions...and the shit will really hit the fan! Be Well! greetings, "Freddy"

Vijay Kumar said...

Dear Conrad,

You have a great collection of links related to spirituality, yoga etc.

I would extremely appreciate your providing link to my website that shall provide greater reading to visitors on your website.

Essays and articles which you shall find full of wisdom related to Spirituality Hinduism! Since 1997 I am maintaining my web presence... imparting to world community wisdom gained on path to self realization (enlightenment)!

My website can be linked as follows -

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Glossary of words Spirituality Hinduism Bhagavad Gita Meditation Yoga
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Essays Spirituality Hinduism Bhagavad Gita Meditation Yoga
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Thanks for your consideration. God bless you!

Two essays you may desire giving reading to-
Story of my Personal experience How I realized God-

A must read lesson of life- Truce with my Inner Self

Vijay Kumar...
(The Man who Realized God in 1993)