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Sunday, 19 June 2016

What if the Chinmoy experience was the best thing that could happen to us as seekers of the truth?

Here are my presuppositions for this article :
I believe our suffering (and the world’s suffering) comes mostly from what is called cognitive dissonance.
We do not see things as they are. We see things through the filter of our own belief system.
We do not see things that are against our beliefs, or we twist them to make them fit into our belief system.
Things that confirm our beliefs, we see and strengthen.

Right from the beginning, the signs showing who Ghose (Sri Chinmoy) really was were there.
To become a disciple was to take Ghose's belief system as our own.
We decided to twist reality to make it fit our beliefs.
I’m still amazed at how we could take some of the crazy things Ghose was doing as a sign of his greatness.

Despite being a very extreme experience, it is not that unique.
People become friends with someone only to later discover that the other person is quite toxic.
People discover after years of a romantic relationship that the other has a double life.
Is there any life without this kind of experience, even at a much milder level ?
We disciples, at least those who left and who did the deprogramming work, got a unique opportunity of seeing how far the cognitive dissonance can lead us.
It is surely very confusing and very painful once we realize how much we have been fooling ourselves.
But there is so much to learn.

In my opinion, to get the full extent of this experience, one has to totally challenge one's own belief system.
To challenge everything Ghose taught us.
To challenge everything we think we know about spirituality.

I like to believe that being spiritually advanced is to be aware of how much people, including ourselves, twist reality.
In this sense, the Chinmoy experience was a great opportunity, maybe the greatest we can have as a seeker.
I see people around who had a much more common life experience and I don’t feel I missed something or my life was less interesting.

I am grateful to life for my Chimnoy experience.
That does not make him less of a perverted bastard.

PS : I want to add that I’m talking in general about making the experience of cognitive dissonance.
Of course, I do not consider being abused by Ghose as a great experience.

1 comment:

  1. A good post, Guillaume.
    There is a podcast on YouTube, Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things (with Dr. Michael Shermer).
    Dr. Shermer looks at Confirmation Bias.
    In cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.
    Very intelligent people can fall into the trap of confirmation bias, says Dr Shermer.
    He names an American neuro-surgeon whose faith in Biblical fundamentalism led him to deny Darwin and all the evidence for natural selection.
    Richard Dawkins said the same thing happened to a young Harvard geologist who gave up a promising career because, as a Biblical fundamentalist, he believes in creationism.
    'If religion can do that to a Harvard scientist,' Richard says, 'what is it capable of doing to ordinary people?'
    Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett have podcasts on YouTube which touch on the same theme.
    It is also worthwhile looking at the podcasts of Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist who questions some of Sam Harris's assumptions.
    Just as Harris and Dennett allow me to look hard at my own Christian preconceptions, Peterson enabled me to question the tenets of atheism.
    I can also recommend YouTube interviews with Christian philosopher Rene Girard (now deceased) whom I first read in the 1980s.
    Just now I am reading David Guretzki's 'An Explorer's Guide to Karl Barth' (highly recommended) and rereading 'Encounter With Martin Buber' by Aubrey Hodes, which I first read in 1973.
    Barth believed in dogmatic religion but Buber espoused no dogma at all as far as I can see.
    As Ninian Smart said, there is bad religion as well as good religion.
    Sri Chinmoy's religion was bad, we are both agreed about that, aren't we?
    For an example of confirmation bias, read an online interview with Alan Spence from 2002.
    It is titled, 'Reasons of the Heart' and was first published in The Scotsman newspaper. (Catherine Devenney interviewed Alan.)
    Alan says on first meeting Chinmoy:
    'I was just profoundly moved by him. He awakened something in me...There was just a radiance from him that I have never experienced before or since. He gives off light and peace and love - all the things you read about.'
    An only child, Alan lost his mother as a small boy.
    Chinmoy too lost his parents.
    Alan loses all critical awareness when he talks about Chinmoy.
    How did he go from sensing a radiance in Chinmoy to believing that Chinmoy possessed supernatural powers?
    For instance, disciples were told that Guru could see into the 'past lives' of his disciples.
    We were told Guru could communicate with the dead.
    One of the Scottish disciples committed suicide, and Guru said he would ensure that our friend's soul would be reborn into a good family.
    How could we have fallen for this shit?
    Did Bishop Desmond Tutu know about Chinmoy's outrageous claims?
    Did the two popes, Paul VI and John Paul II?
    Chinmoy was in and out of the Vatican all the time, and he had the run of the United Nations.
    If only Harris and Dennett had been around to hold Chinmoy to account for his evil.
    Pascal said the heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.
    But the heart can deceive.
    Reason always brings us back to the evidence.
    There are no gurus, as you and I know.

    J Haggerty

    J Haggerty