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Sexual abuse and manipulation

Sex is the rock on which many a guru to the West has floundered. Even gurus who have started genuine, and were sincere and full of light, like Muktananda, got caught up in this; even more so those who were gross from the beginning! In India too, sexual abuse is a serious problem; it is no respecter of cultures.

Because most gurus are males, and most males find it hard not to think about sex, sexual abuse, whether mild and occasional or chronic, is widespread among male gurus, but seems to be pretty much if not totally non-existent among female gurus. In the largest majority of cases, the victims are young, in their teens or twenties. In a few cases, such as Sathya Sai Baba, where the guru is homosexual, the victims are young males.

I don't want to buy into or add to the subject of victim-consciousness. At the same time, one needs to ask how much responsibility can a susceptible teen or early twenty-something have when faced with a much older and much loved and worshipped authority figure, who they have come to believe is an enlightened being who can do no wrong, but who acts in a way that is clearly immoral? For this reason it is not so much a matter of victim-consciousness as it is of an authority figure who should know better, acting with total lack of responsibility and betrayal of trust, to take advantage of a much younger person for their own selfish sexual gratification.

It cannot be denied that sometimes the subjects of the false guru's attraction are willing participants, and whilst obne can speak of a betrayal of trust it is something they are not bothered by, perhaps even they appreciate the closeness with the guru. In other cases the victim is traumatised for life. One finds this sort of ambiguity and dichotomy among sexually active gurus like Trungpa and Muktananda, the latter of which used the excuse "Tantric Initiation". Even with Sathya Sai Baba, it seems that some, like slanderous devotee Gerald Moreno, are not harmed by, and perhaps have even been inspired and uplifted, by his sexual advances. The same sexual advances that so deeply traumatised so many other young male devotees over the years.

And this is part of the paradox of the Intermediate Zone, time and time again one finds the same pattern; the very same guru, the very same actions, will help one person but greatly harm another. But even where the person is helped, the guru is still acting out of selfishness.

How every different are the actions and behaviour of those sincere gurus like Vivekananda, Yoganada, Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Aurobindo, who had totally mastered all such desires, and only acted with the most utmost of honorability towards all their devotees!

Really, sex is a very reliable way to separate the genuine from the fake. If a guru in any way acts with sexual desire towards any of their devotees, then they have not yet attained the state of complete enlightenment; they are not sadgurus and hence their behaviour is questionable. This is the case even where in every other way they are highly sincere and selfless, and where their teachings and books have helped and inspired many.

The following is a possible tentative rating scheme in this area, from authentic spiritual teacher to extremely abusive false guru, as regards to sex:

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 2 December 2006