Way down upon the Swami river...
The other day I got an intriguing email from my favorite new-age-spam delivery service, which, I have come to believe, exists solely to make my blogging job easy. I never asked to be on this service’s email list. I can only believe they chose me because the Ascended Masters told them I am a person of enlightenment. Or maybe it was the word "cosmic" in my email address (auto spam-mailers are unable to detect irony). So who am I to reject these gifts that are so freely given?
Anyway. The subject line of this email was "An Offering For Peace," and, in light of the troubling developments in the world of late, I was interested. In the body of the email was a large headline: "Om Isa Mafu." Ooo, that sounded holy. Just reading those three words made my sixth and seventh chakras tremble. Immediately below the headline was a picture of a disheveled looking blonde with a big red splotch of something on her forehead. This wasn’t one of those refined little dots that adorn the third-eye area of women of various spiritual traditions. This was a huge unsightly stain. Given the fact that the woman looked as if she’d been partying a little too hard, I figured she just got her dot smeared and didn’t know about it when someone snapped her pic. But surely she had veto power about the photo. Maybe she just liked that particular pic, thought it made her look hot or something. But for S’iva’s sake, why didn’t she have someone Photoshop that splotch?
Well, I have to admit my curiosity had been stirred, so I read on. I learned that the "offering for peace" was a video of a Darshan, or a session with a holy being, that had taken place at the blonde’s digs on July 31. According to the email:
This very important Darshan with Mafu is being offered for free in an effort to further assist in bringing peace to this world. It is filled with the Guru’s unimaginable love, great wisdom and penetrating shakti. Mafu offers a beautiful prayer for peace as well as a powerful Guided Meditation. Please join us online in this important ‘Call for Peace’ as Mafu’s guest. This video was recorded Monday, July 31 at Mafu’s Paramatman Dharma Ashram high in the verdant mountains above Ashland, Oregon. Mafu, an enlightened Master, is channeled by Swami Paramananda Saraswatti.
The italics are all theirs; maybe they went to the Helen Gurley Brown School of Copywriting. Still curious, I followed the link in the email. And after exploring Mafu/Swami-Blonde’s web site a bit, I came away with several observations.
First, although "verdant mountains above Ashland, Oregon" sounds pretty poetic, almost sublime, I really think the Swami needs to do something about the physical address of her Ashram, which is – and I am not kidding – 12800 Dead Indian Memorial Road in Ashland.
Second, there seems to be a bit of confusion about just who this Mafu/Blonde person is. When I clicked on the Photos link on the site, the first big pic that popped up was not of the hot blonde, but of a butch-looking brunette who has a "don’t f- - - with me" look in her eyes. I thought at first that maybe this was the blonde’s g.f., or perhaps one of her most enlightened students. Then there was even more identity confusion when I hit the About Us link. The first thing I saw was an androgynous being – I'm guessing a woman – with very short gray hair. Apparently this is Sri Isa Mafu, an enlightened master who "has come to remind humanity of its Divine nature and awaken within us the realization that we are the source of love, of power and of peace." But I think it's actually the blonde in disguise.
Immediately below that pic is another photo of the blonde as herself, more or less, looking as if she is either having an orgasm or a hot flash. According to the web site, the blonde is "Swami Paramananda Saraswatti," who also goes by the name "ammagi," with a lower-case initial. (Kinda like k.d.) It seems Swami-Blonde is merely a channel for Mafu. And when she's deep into Mafu mode, she wears her hair really short. I think that's what's going on, anyway.
At any rate, the channeling bit explains why, when I followed one of the video links in the original email, I saw the blonde speaking in a dreadful foreign accent of some sort. And that big red splotch is there on her forehead, big as life. To add to the confusion, there is yet another video clip featuring the butch brunette, who has lots of stuff painted on her forehead (maybe she went to the face-painting booth at a Renaissance festival or something). And she is speaking in a different, but equally dreadful, foreign accent.
Now, before someone starts accusing me of being a xenophobe, I realize the word "foreign" is relative, but I am assuming that Swami-Blonde/Butch Brunette is a native-born US denizen, and the accents that emerge from her/their mouth(s) are…well…foreign. For them. Not the accents they were taught at home, in other words. (Naturally this brings to mind the famous quotation from Penn Jillette of the famous magician team Penn and Teller: "Channeling is just bad ventriloquism. You use another voice, but people can see your lips moving.")
The third observation I had – and this one is really profound – is that both the hot blonde and the butch brunette like to wear lots of eyeliner. Also, the brunette has a bald spot (I guess that would be the fourth observation).
I’m sure you are burning with curiosity by now about who Swami-Blonde/Butchy Brunette/Mafu really is. So was I. For that information, of course, I had to go outside the Blonde/Mafu’s web site. It seems that originally the Swami was named Penny Torres, and she was once a mere housewife in Oregon. Who knows what profound hungers and longings caused her to embark upon the road not taken? (Well, actually, it’s the road frequently taken these days. And come to think of it, it’s not even the road that gets taken. It’s the people who give money to channelers.)
Perhaps Penny was motivated by the astonishing success story of another blonde channeling superstar, J.Z. Knight, famous oracle of the Ascended Master Ramtha®. As you may know, J.Z. (who, apropos of nothing, was born in Roswell, New Mexico, one year before the aliens crashed there) has made tons and tons of money over the years. J.Z. is even featured in the movie, What The Bleep Do We Know? (See my August 3 post for more info.) J.Z. is nothing if not serious about her work. She even trademarked and copyrighted Ramtha® – I didn’t know you could do that with a disembodied master – and a few years ago she sued a European woman who was encroaching on her Ramtha®-channeling territory. J.Z. won, and you will be relieved to know that Ramtha® is now officially safe from being channeled by fakes.
My guess is that Penny Torres knew a good thing when she saw it, and voila! Mafu was manifested. She gathered up a few folks who weren’t so crazy about J.Z. anymore, and a brand new cult…oh, I mean spiritual movement…was born. Judging from the fact that Penny/Swami/Mafu has conducted Darshans in such far-flung places as Maui (of course) and Australia, it would appear that she/he/it/they are making a pretty penny, so to speak, off of hungry seekers.
It should be obvious from all of the above that I have a bit of an…um…issue with channelers. But I have just as much of an issue with some of the folks who have issues with channelers. For example, when I Googled Mafu, one of the first sites I came upon after the expected Mafu site was one called FakeGuru.com. This site, not surprisingly, listed Penny Torres as a fake, and went on to explain, "In reality the ancient swami orders of Sankara do not admit women."
So far, so good. But then I detected a bit of misogyny in the next sentence: "As much as females may seek to steal, there is no such thing as a female ‘swami.’" And then, lest there be any doubt about the spuriousness of Swami-Blonde’s credentials, and the writer’s feelings about women spiritual leaders, he goes on to describe her as, "Just another out-of-control female on a sex-and-power trip, sowing more spiritual confusion in the world." He continues:
Generally absurd ‘channelers’ do not merit inclusion on FakeGuru.com. But now that Torres is ripping off India and the Swami Order, she is violating holy ground. Torres/Mafu is a digusting affront to the dignity and the purity of Sankara's ancient swami order, and another fine case of what females do to pollute traditions and twist eternal Dharmic standards. Stealing all things from the male, and violating the realms only they can protect, females degrade ancient things... [Torres] is truly an offensive poseur to be loathed by intelligent spiritual men.
You tell ’em, buddy. And don’t let us gals get on ships either, and for the love of Kali, don’t let us near fresh milk when we’re in our periods. (Is it just me, or can you too imagine the above writer…er…lavishing extra attention upon his lingam while looking at pics of this despicable blonde vixen? Or photos of J.Z. in her younger days?)
Interestingly enough, the Fake Guru site links to another site called Celibacy.Info, which has several links to information on the fine art of "sexual self-restraint."***
Several other sites purporting to expose the falsity of channeling are little more than born-again Christian fundamentalist forums that thunder about the "end times." According to this P.O.V., channeling and all that other occult stuff is just another sign of the coming Apocalypse that the Bible warned us about.
So…given a choice between self-righteous, misogynistic celibates who practice Eastern spirituality, and self-righteous, misogynistic born-again types…who ya gonna pick? If that were all I had to choose from, I’d go with Swami-Blonde myself.
Fortunately there is a whole community of skeptics, who, though they sometimes come across as a little stuffy and self-righteous themselves, at least manage to call the channelers on their fakery without proselytizing or being misogynistic. You can start with CSICOP, publishers of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. They have a lot to say about channeling, and about many other related matters.
Or you could just skip the serious stuff altogether and become a follower of Swami Beyondananda. I know I’ve mentioned him here previously, but I couldn’t pass up another op (since we were discussing Swamis anyway). He’s funny intentionally. And he doesn’t have a big red splotch on his forehead either.
*** Naturally I am just joking in the paragraph about the righteous writer and his lingam, since I am assuming he is a practitioner of celibacy, as described on the web site to which he links – and true celibates also abstain from solo sex. Or they're supposed to, anyway.
Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. I am not a licensed debunker and I am in no way suggesting that I have any concrete proof that channelers, including those featured in this post, are fakes (since, I am told, you can't prove a negative). But I still think Swami-Blonde needs to do something about that red splotch.