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The Antagonistic Follower

The Antagonistic Follower is a follower, who may be a devotee or a student, with great loyalty and devotion towards their guru, but have not mastered their lower affective nature. As a result, if they see their guru criticised, they become very defensive, and will tend to resort to ad homimen attacks, character assassination, and anything else they can think of, in order to discredit the critic. Very rarely will they address the critics actual or genuine concerns; they are in fact unable to see other points of view than their own.

As is the case with unenenlightened people who are passionate about anything, there is always an egotistic and narcissistic projection and identification of the self with the object of their identification, in this case the guru, who, being a narcissistic projection of themselves, can do no wrong and cannot possibly be anything but the most saintly and perfect being. (It is the same as with people who identify with their kids, project all their expectations and ego on their kids, etc). However, the Antagonistic Devotee is usually not aware of any of this, nor do they have the maturity or discrimination to look inside their surface consciousness and understand what is going on. Instead they genuinely and sincerely feel with all their heart that their guru has been unjustly wronged and slandered, and that this injustice cannot go unanswered. At the same time they refuse to admit, perhaps because they themselves don't have the empathy to understand, perhaps because of the disillusionment that would result were they to realise at their own abuse at the hands of this guru were all for nothing, that their actions are hurtful to those they are attacking, and that the critics may have genuine reasons for speaking out, e.g. they may have suffered abuse at the hands of the guru, or known some-one else who has. Or they may have information proving that the guru's claims are not what he or she makes them out to be.

Some Antagonistic Followers do eventually come to realise they were wrong, and have to go through a healing process, as ex-devotees or ex-students often becoming strong critics as well, the same passion they used in attacking those who criticise their guru is now used to criticise their ex-guru for the years of abuse, making public the actions on blogs and websites.

But the above path of growth and development does not seem to be accessible to an extreme subset of the Antagonistic Devotee that I call the Slanderous Devotee, who are characterised by a shadow projection that is pathological in extent.


Were I involved with corresponding with more followers of intermediate zone gurus, I would no doubt have a longer list. As it is, the disciples or devotees of two gurus that I know of have shown what could be construed of as antagonistic behaviour. These are:

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (PNB for short) claims to be the successor to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. With very few exceptions, not surprisingly, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's devotees have not given this claim any serious consideration. A few have tried to read the PNB books in all sincerity, but found the Light that can be found in Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's teachings to be lacking (this has been my experience with the PNB material too, although obviously there are a few people who are attracted to it, because she does have a small following). At least three of PNB's followers (what proportion these are or how representative of her entire movement, I don't know), have responded to this rejection with aggressive, ad hominem attacks (complete with projection of the shadow) on Auroconf (the Sri Aurobindo mail list). I witnessed two examples first hand, and was even involved in the debate, during which I came to correspond for a while with two of the PNB followers or students (note that PNB's followers are not devotees in the true sense; it is not a path of guru bhakti). The reason for the hostility on the part of Ms Norelli-Bachelet and her disciples seems to be because the students and followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother fail to acknowledge her and her son as supramental avatars. What is interesting is the same psychological hostility, projection of the shadow, Jekyll and Hyde turn around, and so on, as one finds with the slanderous Sai Baba devotees. However they are in no way comparable to the libel and muck-raking churned out by Sai Baba supporters such as Moreno, or even by the external link scientologists that attacked Rick Ross. The reason for this might be that the Norelli-Bachelet students are not so obsessive-compulsive, that there is more of a genuine spirit of enquiry there, and it may also be that the influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother does help somewhat, in contrast to those other two groups, in which there is no Light at all. Interestingly (perhaps in keeping with the Mother's "neo-Gnostic" cosmology, adopted from Theon), they claim that devotees and students of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who don't accept PNB are instruments of demonic ("asuric") forces. PNB and her students are genuinely unaware that they are in the wrong or have treated anyone at all unfairly, while at the same time displaying the same angry bitterness and shadow-projection against the wrong doings supposedly done against them. Examples of their tirade against aurocconf and auroconf members can be found external link here. For a refutation of my assessment given here see this email by Lori Tompkins. I do agree with Lori that my original assessment of "slanderous" was unfair and very biased on my part, so I have downgraded this to "antagonistic". As always, anyone interested is invited and encouraged to read both sides and then, having considered all the evidence, come to their own conclusions. You certaibnly should never believe something just because I (or any other person) has said it. I may be opinionated and rant on these pages, but often what I am doing is simply asking these people to look at themselves. (see also my disclaimer, which represents a sincere position, not simply or even a defence against libel)

Afterword (16 Dec 2006). Objecting to the word "tirade" in the previous paragraph, Lori requests that my affiliation with Auroconf is included both in my disclaimer page mentioned above, and also on this web page. I am happy to mention it here. But unless any other readers feel otherwise, I fail to see why membership of a small and obscure mail list dedicated only to a traditional approach to Integral Yoga and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings, and on which I now post only very rarely indeed, should appear on a generic disclaimer linked to all of my guru assesment pages, unless it be to expose a dastardly conspiracy of Aurobindonians to undermine the good name of abusive gurus. In any case I am the only one on the whole auroconf list critiquing gurus of any sort, and am certainly not at all representative of the group, nor am I closely affiliated with it (other than as a student and devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother). I am actually affliated - or consider myself affliated - with the contemporary Integral Movement, something that few if any (apart from myself) Aurobindonians identify with. In any case I am, as mentioned, happy to acknowledge on this page that I am on the Auroconf mail list. I first signed up around 1999 or so, then left somewhat later. I rejoined in 2005 I think. This was after reading external link PNB's site, and, intrigued and concerned by her allegations (which at the time I found to be very plausible), wanted to get the other side of the argument, so I could then make up my own mind. Having experienced both sides, I sensed a greater humility among the Aurobindonians, and that impressed me greatly. This despite the fact that when I joined a second time I was indeed strongly sympathetic to PNB's claims. As with slanderous Sai Baba follower Gerald Moreno, people get offended if, through my own honest and sincere inquiry, I end up coming to my own conclusions, which differ from their own. Such freedom of choice to decide for oneself, something I always encourage people visiting my website to do, is spomething that the authoritarian personality cannot tolerate.

Ken Wilber. While I have always found Wilber's followers to be highly civilised in any correspondence, I have seen some very obnoxious, emotionalistic, and shadow-projecting comments made by them against Frank Visser or in response to his posts on his blog Wilber Watch blog. This really just follows Wilber himself, who started the whole thing with an unprovoked attack on and betrayal of Visser, a man who had dedicated many years of his life to promulgating Wilber's ideas. It also seems that because of my critiques I have made at least one enemy among the Wilberians, who it seems has decided Wikipedia link he has to delete everything I have written on Integral Theory on Wikipedia. Neverthless, other students of Wilber have accorded me the greatest respect of friendship, especially if I approach them with respect. So in no way do I waish to imply this is representative of the Wilber movement as a whole, which I find to be among the better movements in the field of Consciousness change

Still on the subject of Wilber, although I am against personal criticism, I know I am not perfect either, and I likewise have written in a style that verged on ad hominem and shadow projection, e.g. some of my earlier criticisms. Wilber behaved in a way that was a result of his own shadow projection (and I get the feeling he felt uncomfortable or remorsful about this afterwards, because he posted a set of later blogs on shadow projection etc; this is a point in his favour), and it was as a result of my own weakness that I got in and responded similarily. I still stand by my intellectual criticism of Integral Theory, which I believe is as valid now as it was when I wrote it, but I was out of line when the tone of any of the text in those essays became in any manner personal.

Andrew Cohen. Andrew Cohen represents the classic well-meaning but misguided "abusive guru"; I used him as an illustration in external link my essay critiquing the Wilberian movement. While his followers are sometimes pleasant, especially when approached respectfully, some have employed the usual strategy of character assassination and ad hominem attack to discredit criticism posted on blogWhat Enlightenment? blog; see some of the early blog Enlightennixt entries. The fact that these are not anywhere comparable to the campaigns by some devotees of certain other abusive gurus may be due to the philosophically milder position adopted by Cohen; nondualism is an incredibly tolerant outlook. (however the idea that nondualism is less likely to lead to cultism has been criticised by Geoff Falk, a critic of Wilber and of gurus in general)

Sri Aurobindo - it really really is uncomforatble to say this, but in the recent controversy over Sri Aurobindo's academic biography by Peter Heehs, some really insulting and unjust things have been said about Heehs. I in no way wish to discredit or criticise the loyalty and devotion of these students of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who wish only that these two supramental avatars be portrayed in a correct and accurate manner. Devotees have a right to criticise a book which is only written from a secular exoteric perspective, for how can such a methodology truly represent the life and teachings of a true Realiser and Divinser? At the same time, that does not excuse actions such as expelling Heehs from the ashram, or bringing legal action against him, or slandering him (but see the above link for further links including arguments pro and con). Why criticise the author? That is where I draw the line. And it just goes to show that no matter how elevated a Tecaher or Teaching, the human disciples will discsapoint, and eventually make that prure spiritual Revelation and Realised Teaching into its very opposite, a dualistic, shadow projecting, cultic religion. It happened with Jesus, and it looks like the same is in danger of happening here. Again, to clarify, I am not saying people shouldn't criticise the book; indeed they should, if there are faults in it (and even I've foudn some faults in it). But I am saying they shouldn't attack the author.

Do you have reports of, or have you been the victim of ad hominem attacks by antagonistic devotees? If so, please contact me and I will add your accounts to those listed here. Alternatively, do you feel that my assessment of your guru has been harsh, unfair, biased, or bigoted? If so, contact me also, and I will include your email, unedited, if you would like, so visitors to this site can get all points of view.

False and True Spirituality

True spirituality is based on love, compassion, empathy, selflessness, and lack of concern for what others say about oneself, whether good or bad. Those gurus too who allow libelous behaviour and slander to be perpetuated by their devotees are not true gurus; and those devotees who undertake such actions are probably as far from the true spiritual life as one can be. So if there is a guru or teaching whose followers act in the manner or along the lines described on this page, then it is a fair bet that guru is false. If you are involved in an organisation or movement or teaching that acts in this way, allow yourself to be guided by your Inner Light, and ask whether this really has anything to do with the authentic spiritual path.

In contrast to the antagonistic attitude of disciples and devotees of intermediate zone gurus, it is worth looking at the advice given by a real sage and sadguru to a devotee, The following is from Link to Amazon com Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (my note in [square brackets]):

"Mr T.K.S. Iyer, a disciple, was excited [note: agitated would perhaps have been a better word?] because someone in the town had spoken disparagingly of the Master. He did not retort and came away excited. So he asked Master what penalty should be paid for his failure to defend him.

Maharshi: Patience, more patience; tolerance, more tolerance!"
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp.196-7, Sri Ramanasramam, 1955, 1958, 2003

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