Beast meets West, Part 2
Is it just my imagination, or do Western spiritual seekers just get dumber every generation?…Yup, the deeksha giver lays her hands on your crown chakra, and kickstarts the flow of kundalini, the fire that has burned countless naive Western novices.
~ Kevin Dann, Reality Sandwich
The Maharishi, whom we visited here the other day, is not the only beast from the East who is steadily devouring the bank accounts of eager Westerners. These days, more and more of the conspicuously enlightened are embracing India’s Oneness University, founded by Sri Kalki Bhagavan and his wife Padmavathi Amma. Judging from some of the copy on their web site, these two have to be one of the ultimate MystiCouples of all times.
Loved and worshipped by millions, Sri Amma Bhagavan are avatars for enlightenment and God realisation. They are one single avataric consciousness in two bodies. They represent the Divine feminine and the Divine masculine. Together Amma and Bhagavan power the process of enlightenment of the individual seeker as Yin and Yang, stillness and movement, Prakruti and Purusha.
They are like the spirit, all pervading yet abiding in the deepest recesses of one's Being. They are the silent Presence powering the phenomenon of Deeksha everywhere. Far removed from the periphery of the various activities of the movement they reside at the Oneness temple. Deeksha anywhere in the world draws its power from the consciousness and the intent of Sri Amma Bhagavan. They are the life breath behind the any number of miracles that are experienced by the seekers. They manifest across space and time to people when they seek their help. Their consciousness not being limited to their physical body, Amma Bhagavan's manifestation even predates their birth.
What was hitherto possible for great masters, Sri Amma Bhagavan are making it possible for ordinary men and women… Sri Amma Bhagavan do not belong to any one people, one nation or one faith. They are for all mankind. Their vision is not a golden age for any one community or country. It is a Global Golden age.
Once again I defer to Jody at Guruphiliac (and I warn you right now that I will be quoting him at length in this post). If you’re a regular reader of his blog you know he is no fan of the Oneness U cult, and that is putting it very mildly. (He sometimes refers to Sri Kalki, the Mister half of Oneness U’s MystiCouple, as "Kracki" or "Krapki.")
"Deeksha" is the Sanskrit word for "initiation," and a major part of the whole Oneness U experience is something called "deeksha energy transfer," which is sort of like Jesus H. Christ’s laying-on of hands, though more sophisticated because, you see, it’s got that Eastern-mystic cachet. Actually it’s not known so much as "deeksha" any more, at least not at Oneness U. Now it is more frequently referred to as the Oneness Blessing. There may be a ™ or © or ® after that; in any case, you can be sure it’s proprietary.
Actually, come to think of it, Oneness Energy Transfer sounds a LOT like Access Energy transfer, which we also visited here on WM a few months back.
Whatever you want to call it, deeksha/Oneness Blessing is a pretty hot commodity among New-Wagers. In my neck of the woods, evidence of Oneness' enlightenment-chic status can be found in the fact that Houston’s primo affluent New-Thought church, the nondenominational Unity Church of Christianity (which I used to attend), is into the Oneness game. In September of 2007, its senior minister, Howard Caesar, went through the 21-day Oneness Process in India. And the result? Do you even have to ask? Oneness Blessings are now being offered at Unity in Houston.
There was even a Deeksha Camp at this year’s Burning Man Festival. Jody at Guruphiliac posted a video of some deeksha sessions that took place at BM (hmmm… pretty apt initials, don’t you think?). The only thing missing from that video was Maui’s resident poet-poseur Dreaming-Bear, who was also BM-ing, but alas, he was busy in the Diva Boot Camp being naked, suffering, and dreaming up new poetry to inflict on the world. (BTW, Dreaming-Bear seems to have found the true secret to age reversal. Last time I’d checked his MySpace profile, he had listed his age as 34. Now he is only 28! Utterly amazing.)
There have been some disturbing stories here and there about the effects and after-effects of the deeksha process. But that’s probably true of any process or therapy (whether it’s done by a licensed or unlicensed therapist). What really made me raise my eyebrows when I was Googling – okay, so I have a taste for the sensational – was the buzz about a hallucinogenic drug that in the past was allegedly administered as part of the Oneness process. I hasten to add that, according to reports I’ve read, this is no longer done. But back in the day…whoa!
Apparently this drug, leyham, which seemed to be a combination of LSD and ecstasy, was being used for a while in the 21-day "process." Not surprisingly, some folks were experiencing ill effects. Others were having "peak experiences."* Again, my understanding is that the drug is no longer used, and hasn’t been for a couple of years. Still, anybody who has any insight on this is welcome to share his or her experiences here.
Some folks are pretty upset with Oneness U’s apparent money lust, and with evidence that the poor in India as well as affluent Westerners are being exploited by the Kalki cult. As is the case with most New-Wage paths or trends, some people swear by Oneness U, and (as you surely know if you’ve read Jody’s blog) some swear at them. A more balanced look can be found on a rather long blog post (with some annoyingly long paragraphs) by one man who was involved with Oneness U for several years, but no longer is. The comments are interesting as well.
Love ’em or hate ’em, it seems clear that Kalki and Amma and the crew at Oneness U have some grandiose plans for humanity. One big goal is to effect a critical mass of enlightenment in the human race by the year 2012. 2012, in case you aren’t aware, is the new Y2K. That’s the year when the world may or may not end, depending upon which nutty web site you land on. According to the Oneness U folks, however, if their critical-mass plan works, 2012 will see the birth of a new Golden Age of Humanity, which will spread all over the world.
The web site of Oneness U affiliate The Oneness Centre Australia ’splains in simple scientific terms how the critical-mass project works:
The divine plan is that when 64,000 people, spread all over the globe, have reached the oneness state, the effect will spontaneously spread to the rest of humanity. This will occur through what is known as the morphogenic fields**, by the action of the ‘100th monkey syndrome’. It is, as Malcolm Gladwell says in The Tipping Point, a "positive" epidemic. The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly and this can lead to permanent change of a massive nature.
While there are probably enough New-Wage concepts in that one paragraph to make the average skeptic’s head explode, the one thing that stuck out for me was that tired old hundredth-monkey banner, which, though loosely based on a real incident, is mostly b.s. in the context in which New-Wagers employ it. But Oneness U has apparently dragged it out again in order to push their critical-mass enlightenment agenda. (I suppose one could call the hundredth-monkey story in this context a "turban legend," but the Oneness U folks don’t normally sport that particular type of headgear.)
The paragraph preceding the one I just quoted from the Australia Oneness site gives a good idea of what’s in store in 2008:
In 2008 a special conference is to take place at Oneness University which will be attended by many prominent world figures. Leading scientists, quantum physicists, and medical professionals are visiting as well as practitioners and therapists of every modality of medicine, therapy, meditation and personal development. A number of very prominent and celebrated movie actors have also undertaken the course at Oneness University.
Are you excited yet?
In case you're interested in getting a Oneness Blessing but can't afford the trip to India, you can receive it from anyone who's an official Oneness Facilitator. However, you can’t become a Oneness Facilitator yourself unless you’ve spent the bucks and made the trip. At the time I first began this post a few months ago (okay, so I got sidetracked!), the total cost of the 21-day process was $5,500.00 USD. Now, however, it seems the price has gone up a bit:
The total cost for the Level 1 Course is $5,650 USD (this includes a $500 Deposit Fee, a $150 Preparatory Course and a $5000 Course Fee). Of this amount, a non-refundable deposit fee of $500 USD is required upon acceptance of your application.
Then there’s Level 2; repeat customers get a deal:
The total cost for the Level 2 Course is $1,500 USD. Of this amount, a non-refundable deposit fee of $500 USD is required upon acceptance of your application. Food, lodging, laundry service and transportation is included in the course fee.
You may be wondering what effect, if any, a Oneness Blessing really has on the one who is so blessed. Well, according to information on the Oneness U FAQ page, the effects are profound. Now if only science would admit it…
The Oneness Blessing is known to produce a neuro-biological transformation in the brain. We look forward for the cooperation of the scientific community to conduct an in depth research in order to establish the exact details of this transformative process.
Hey, maybe they can get the Maharishi’s research teams on it.
But just what can a person receiving the Oneness Blessing expect? Here’s what it says on the Unity Church page I linked to above:
Oneness Blessing is transferred by a Oneness Facilitator by placing his or her hands onto the crown of your head, usually for about 1 minute. Experiences during the Oneness Blessing vary, sometimes strong, sometimes subtle, sometimes delayed until even days later. The recipient may experience a tingling sensation in the head, or blissful energy flowing through the body, or sometimes nothing at all. Whatever the experience, the recipient can trust that the process of Oneness has begun.
*It is helpful to receive the Oneness Blessing on a regular basis.
It should come as no surprise that the Oneness trend has inspired other New-Wage capitalists, some of whom are in my own back yard, sort of. I guess I’m lucky to live in Texas, a state whose capital city and surrounding areas in the Hill Country are just crawling with the conspicuously enlightened. Granted, I’m in relatively unenlightened Houston here on the soggy Gulf Coast, but hey, at least I’m in the same state, geographically speaking, as folks such as "Crazy" William Cooper, M.Th., LPC, LMFT. Cooper is adept at the "laying on of hands" (and some of my sources have suggested that he has at times practiced the laying on of "hands where they don’t belong," as Jody might put it – but I won’t go there right now). Cooper has kind of a "Christ deeksha" shtick, but he is definitely riding the Oneness train as well.
The deeksha virus has broken free of its Oneness Movement cesspool and is adrift in the New Age™ marketplace, where any knucklehead with a white robe can be an enlightened master, one able to solve any problem in existence by laying-on hands and pretending that something is happening other than dummies being separated from their money.
Along with her partner Michael Abeden, Lola is the publisher of Austin All Natural magazine, which is in the genre of those New-Wage publications to which I once crudely paid tribute via my BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief. Lola is also a photographer and a talented artist, a friend to folks such as Joe Vitale…and, yes, a deeksha giver. Or seller. But her deekshas don’t cost as much as the ones at Oneness. She calls them Divine Openings, and apparently you can get Divinely Opened in a group session if you wish – even over the phone. And, of course, Lola is more than willing to teach you how to be a Divine Opener yourself. It's much cheaper than going to India. Or, as Jody put it:
Become your own flimflammer for less than $2000! That's over half off the regular fee!
And finally, there’s Steven Sadleir – not a Texan but a Californian. He’s the guy Jody refers to as "Kracki Jr.", describing him as "an American guru who has hijacked the flimflam of pretty much every Indian scamatar out there." I’ve mentioned Sadleir here too. (Scroll down to "You must act now! Or pay Steven to teach you how.") Sadleir apparently really has the magic touch, and is able to infuse every word he writes with divine power. It’s kind of like that magic cleansing power on the Zero Limits web site, which, as you may recall, is the first web site designed to "clean" you while you look at it. But Sadleir’s magic is done with the printed word, according to a press release that hit PRWeb in July of this year:
Paper, in the form of Steven S. Sadleir's new book The Calling: A Journey Within Your Own Being, is being used to conduct energy that awakens consciousness. An American guru transmits shaktipat to awaken the readers kundalini while they are reading.
Shaktipat is the primordial life force current that creates, sustains and guides every living thing in the universe. Author and Shaktipat Master Steven S. Sadleir transmits energy through his new book The Calling: A Journey Within Your Own Being. The book is a guided meditation. Steven takes the reader on a journey of self discovery as they connect with the energy as they are reading the book. Each word is designed to activate an inner awareness within the reader; they trigger the part of the mind that already knows as the words are reflected upon.
As I understand it, shakitpat transference is kind of like deeksha or Oneness Energy Transfer or maybe even ACCESS Energy Transfer, except it’s spelled differently. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to gain a deeper understanding of these matters.
I did notice that Sadleir’s "new" book The Calling, which was so hyped in the press release, doesn’t appear to be all that new – at least not by Earthly publishing standards – having been released in 1995. Maybe on Steven Sadleir’s planet, that still constitutes "new." But hey, no matter, the book has a five-star-review average!
So how does all of this stuff leave me feeling? Oddly enough, it leaves me invigorated and inspired. It leaves me, once again, with a strong conviction that grows ever more powerful as time goes by: I GOTTA find me a scam.
* I am very much aware that there is a long tradition of using hallucinogenic drugs during a spiritual process, and that some of these drugs (e.g., peyote) make one violently ill before the "spiritual" stuff starts. This is not an experience I would ever seek out for myself, but to each his or her own. In any case, I am just passing along information here.
** Here’s a Skepdic link about Rupert Sheldrake and his theory of "morphogenic fields" – not to be confused with the developmental biology concept of "morphogenetic fields."