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Why BATGAP Removed James’ Interview
Roland: Hi, I discovered James as a teacher at the website Buddha at the Gas Pump. I’ve read both his books on enlightenment several times and spent many hours listening to his teachings online. I would really like to go deeper into Vedanta with James as my teacher.
James teaches a lot about the importance of being qualified both as a teacher and an enquirer. It is therefore with that in mind I need to bring up the following development. Rick Archer has removed James’ interviews from his BATGAP website. When I asked Rick about that he said it was due to some disturbing information that was given to him about James’s past.
I have found James to be very honest about his past transgressions, especially before meeting Chinmayananda. I don’t see any problem with that. His provocative life story is well known. However in the interest of being qualified, could you please address what specifically could motivate Rick from taken such drastic action?
In my opinion, James is an exceptional teacher who contribution to the spiritual discourse is absolutely essential. We cannot afford to see him sidelined by any misinformed rumours about him. We need teachers of great integrity whose commitment to the truth is relevant to the here and now and not prejudged by past actions that may have occurred out of ignorance.
Sundari: Hello, Roland.
I think you have come to the right conclusions, but to answer your question, we don’t know what could have motivated Rick to remove James’ interview from BATGAP and quite frankly, we don’t care. The spiritual world is full of intrigue, misinformation and ignorance. James is the most respected and qualified teacher of Vedanta you are ever going to be fortunate enough to come across. He has been totally upfront about his so-called “past” and continues to be so about his so-called “present.” He has nothing to hide, you will find no corpses no matter how hard you look, and he has been faithfully serving the truth and passing on the torch of self-knowledge to thousands all over the world, for over 40 years.
It’s really quite sad that Rick could not apply a little more discrimination in his judgments, as there are so few teachers in the spiritual world with as much integrity and who dare to be as transparent as James. People believe what they want to believe, and neither James or I have the slightest interest in what people think. We do what we do to serve to the best of our ability. Read the testimonials at the website, and if you still have a doubt about his qualifications to teach, then it is best you look elsewhere.
Roland: Thank you for replying. I’ve listened to James teach for hours on end, so I am very much aware of his authority as a Vedanta teacher. I was merely following his advice to seekers in regards to evaluating gurus, so I won’t fault myself for that.
I accept your response and I have no desire to pursue this any further. At 56, I am far more concerned about achieving liberation than engaging in intrigue.
I respect your viewpoint regarding rumour,s but I think you should be aware of the Google results I got when searching with the very innocent query “James Swartz interviews.” That’s what prompted me to ask the question. I’ve attached a screenshot.
Sundari: Your attitude is absolutely correct; discrimination is the name of the game – especially with regards to the spiritual world. There are so many false teachers out there, not especially “bad” people, but nonetheless, teaching ignorance along with knowledge or worse, as knowledge. It is sad that one of the greats in Vedanta, a man like James, with so much integrity and who has dedicated his life to the truth, should come under fire, but that is the way things work.
For those who have been blessed to be taught by him, and the numbers are growing by the day, as seen in the record attendances at all his seminars worldwide (and by the number of people who write to us), clearly, some negative press from whomever is not preventing those who need to hear him from doing so. The more famous he gets, the more of this negativity we will probably get, it goes with the territory. You know the Chinese saying, “When doing evil avoid punishment, when doing good, avoid fame.” I think that about sums it up!
The funny thing is, you will not meet anyone who is less interested in what people think of him as James than James. How could he? He is Ram, the self, not James. No matter the projections (good or bad), they are all mithya. He is only interested in serving Isvara as his own true self and he sees everyone as the self because that’s all there is. He is totally happy and totally free. Nothing sticks to him or can affect him. He is in the world but not of it – and has complete and unassailable knowledge of how the dharma field works. And therefore great compassion for people trapped by their identifications and projections. You need to establish trust in yourself (it seems you have), but I can tell you, because I know him best, he is 100% the real deal. You will not find a better teacher if moksa is what you are after.
As for the Google query search results – well, it’s a democratic forum, is it not? When you put yourself “out there” you must expect all kinds of feedback, positive and negative. People have the right to their point of view after all. We have just had to hire a bigger venue for our January India talks, as we have close to 200 people signed up, with more coming in every day. So things can’t be that bad! I hope we have the pleasure of meeting you one day; feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ram at email@example.com.
~ Namaste, Sundari