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Get a Grip
Mira: Much could be said about the delirious writings of James Swartz and Swami Dayananda. Instead, I shall give you a quote from a saint, Sri Swami Sivananda. It is my wish that you take some time to ponder upon his message. At the end of his introductory lessons on Vedanta we receive the following:
(Here Mira copies part of a long and not untrue rant by Swami Shivananda, of which the following is an example.)
“Vedanta in the hands of raw and unregenerate persons who lack purity and devotion, who have not removed the impurity of their hearts through untiring selfless service with Atma-Bhava and Kirtan and prayer, is perilous. It is like a sharp razor in the hands of a child. Instead of expanding their hearts the Vedantic study will thicken and fatten their egoism. They fall into the deep abyss of ignorance. There is no hope for them of being lifted up, as their heart is filled with foolish Tamasic obstinacy, false Vedantic pride and self-superiority, and false Tushti (satisfaction). May this land be free from such impotent, pseudo lip-Vedantins! May this world abound with real Vedantins like Dattatreya, Yajnavalkya and Sankara!”
Dharana is needed. I do not claim to be anything. All I meant to say was that being equipped with an analytical mind, the requirement for comprehending Vedanta, I understand your profession. You sit in a glass house, throwing stones. Is it surprising that you get some kind of reaction?
Many are those, both in the East and West, who distort the Indian heritage for personal gains, be it name and fame or plain money. Innocents are being exploited, as well as deluded. But the road to hell can just as well be founded on good intentions. I apologize if I hurt you. It was not the intention. I will not bother you again.
James: Dear Mira, I am curious to know what you read or heard that set you off. It is obvious that you have never read my books, particularly How to Attain Enlightenment, nor have you read the website. Had you done so, you would have realized that your point of view is not based on a dispassionate analysis of the facts. It is clear that you have a bone to pick. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and we would give you a hearing if you had your factual ducks in line; well-thought-out criticisms that are supported by logic are always useful, even if the emotions driving them are not particularly noble.
I can tell you that when you are a public figure, you provide an excellent hook on which both satisfied and dissatisfied people can hang their projections. By and large, for every condescending email that comes to me there are scores of supporting uplifting emails. So on balance it is hard for me to put much stock in your opinion.
What irritates me, however, is your rudeness. I like a statement by Dogen, a 13th-century Zen master, “Next to good manners enlightenment is the most important thing in the world.” You may have a very good mind and be very experienced, and know a lot about spiritual topics, but you certainly could use a bit of culture. Maybe you think you are so right and wonderful you can afford to be rude. If I knew you and we had a history, you might expect me to consider what you have to say even if you delivered it in this unkind way. But you are a complete stranger. It is impolite to speak to strangers in this manner. If you were willing to show me the respect that every human being is entitled to, you would have written a very different letter.
Furthermore, you are certainly full of yourself. You say, “It is my wish that you take some time to ponder upon his message.” Why would anyone in their right mind even consider the unkind and ill-informed opinion of a complete stranger? “It is my wish…” What a pompous, pretentious statement.
Having said all that, I am still quite curious about which of my statements set you off. Was it my analysis of yoga or kundalini? Or was your info second-hand? And I am curious to know why you didn’t reply to Sundari’s reply. Were you too embarrassed? It also seems that you are blithely ignorant of the fact that my guru Swami Chinmayananda, who instructed me to teach Vedanta over 40 years ago, was a disciple of Swami Shivananda, and that I teach many seminars in Shivananda Yoga centers. I have the greatest respect for Shivananda, Chidananda and Swami Krishnananda. I will give a seminar in one of the world’s largest Shivananda centers in the spring. I am more than welcome there. And lastly, your view about Swami Dayananda is unfathomable. He is one of the most highly-respected Indian mahatmas of the modern era. Finally, I wonder if your arrogance has not made you a little delusional. Did you honestly think that your letter would actually have a positive impact? Did you somehow see me climbing off my high horse, donning a hair shirt, renouncing Vedanta and penitentially flagellating myself in public, having been exposed as a fraud by you? Seriously, Mira, get a grip. You need a bit of work.
~ Om and prem, James