Saturday, 21 December 2013

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Part 1

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931-90) started life as Chandra Mohan Jain, and gained the nickname of Rajneesh.  He was born in Central India to Jain parents, but became a freethinker. He acquired an M.A. degree in philosophy at Saugor University in 1957. Meanwhile, his academic life was attended by what he later described as a nervous breakdown, and paradoxically, by a purported “enlightenment” dating to 1953.
 
Subsequently he became a professor of philosophy, and lectured for nearly a decade at Raipur and Jabalpur. In 1966, Jabalpur University insisted that he resign from his academic position after a controversial lecture tour; he was advocating an open acceptance of sexual activity against conventions. Rajneesh also became infamous as a critic of Mahatma Gandhi. Three years later, on the centenary of Gandhi’s birth, he caused an outrage with his theme that Gandhi’s sexual abstinence was a form of perversion.
 
Rajneesh had already commenced his career as a spiritual teacher or acharya, attracting the attention of wealthy, upper class Indians. He lectured at “meditation camps” and other venues. He gave his first address to a Western audience in 1969. In 1970, he settled at Bombay (Mumbai), where he gave regular public lectures to large mixed audiences. A system of ticket fees was in operation. Rajneesh liked to engage in pronounced criticism of orthodox religion, but not merely ritualism. Conventions were wrong, he said, and all repression must go. He became known as the “sex guru.”
 
During the Bombay phase, his programme was designed to “exhaust” clients with five daily “dynamic meditations” lasting for an hour at a time. The novelty on offer was not contemplative, instead comprising energetic body movements, hyperventilation (breathwork), and cathartic abandonment. Nudity was also encouraged.
 
Rajneesh  described his speciality of “dynamic meditation” in terms of “going totally mad.” Other exercises were also favoured at the Poona ashram he launched in 1974. By the 1980s, these exercises included the “No Mind” meditation, which “involved ten minutes nightly in forcibly speaking gibberish while ‘going completely crazy’ before a 20-minute witnessing period” (Conway, Rajneesh biography).

Rajneesh was often mistakenly considered by Westerners to represent Hinduism. He was not a Hindu, and nor a traditional Jain, but instead became an entrepreneur who favoured Reichian therapy and related vogues of the Western commercial scene. Reichian theory (of Wilhelm Reich) has been identified as underlying many of the idiosyncratic therapies Rajneesh promoted during the 1970s at his Poona ashram (Carter, 1990, pp. 41, 84, 112-14). Rajneesh insisted that repression of sexual energy is the cause of most individual problems. His own career served to disprove this Reichian fallacy.
 
His new age extremism may be discerned in his antipathy for Mahatma Gandhi, whom he placed on the level of Adolf Hitler in a relativistic scenario of torture. Rajneesh described Gandhi as a self-torturer, and Hitler as a torturer of others. He stated that “Gandhi had the Jaina [ascetic] characteristic very much developed in him.” Hitler was equated with Islam. Both were described by Rajneesh as great saints. These idiosyncratic musings were included in a book on Zen published in 1980, part of the Rajneesh corpus which confused many thousands of readers (those books were not writings, but comprised edited discourses).
 
Rajneesh did not wish to emulate the fasting privations of Gandhi, who lived in rustic simplicity. Instead, the “sex guru” collected jewellery and Rolls Royce automobiles, eager not to deny himself any superfluous commodity. He was not a celibate like the traditional Jain and Hindu ascetics; reports of his behaviour attest his disposition to free love. “Close early Western disciples... and others heard from young women of having their breasts groped and vaginas fondled by the Bhagwan, before Rajneesh graduated to having full intercourse with some of them during ‘private darshans’” (Conway, Rajneesh biography). The young Indian woman Kranti lost out in these activities to the more desirable British partner Christine Wolff, alias Ma Yoga Vivek. According to ex-devotee Christopher Calder, Rajneesh “had sex with hundreds of young women half his age,” meaning his meditation converts.

In 1971, Rajneesh assumed the elevated Hindu title of Bhagwan (Lord). The preceding year, he had commenced to initiate admirers as “sannyasins,” in the context of his Neo-Sannyas International Movement. The word sannyas means renunciation, but Rajneesh inverted the traditional meaning. Rajneeshi sannyasins have been described as anti-renunciates. These people acquired new Indian names, bead necklaces, and ochre (later red) robes. Indians were involved, but increasingly, Rajneesh catered for Westerners. During the 1970s, many thousands of Americans, Germans, and other foreigners became “sannyasin” recruits for neo-Reichian therapy, Dynamic Meditation, and free love. Hindus generally disowned the Rajneesh “neo-sannyasin” activity as a promiscuous aberration.

Rajneesh and his neo-sannyasins

One of the very earliest Western neo-sannyasins was Christopher Calder, a British convert who first met Rajneesh in 1970. He was given the new name of Swami Krishna Christ, but became disillusioned after several years. Much later, he contributed two online articles that are radically informative and very critical of his former guru.
 
Calder poses the question: “What did Rajneesh want and get?” He adds: “The answer is millions of dollars, absolute power, a harem of women, and a daily supply of drugs.” Rajneesh is reported to have experienced a brief experimentation with LSD, though in the long term he was “inhaling enough nitrous oxide to inflate a dirigible” (Calder, Ridiculous Teachings).
 
The confused Western reception of Rajneesh emphases can be sampled in such works as Encyclopaedia Britannica, which states: “Rajneesh became well known for his progressive approach to sexuality, which contrasted with the renunciation of sex advocated by many other Indian teachers.” 
 
This comment refers to the 1970s Poona (Pune) ashram established by Rajneesh, where “dynamic meditation” blended easily with alternative therapy of the Western “new age.” The Reichian appetite of Rajneesh encouraged pseudo-therapeutic approaches in the Esalen and related commercial directories. The Encyclopaedia Britannica rather misleadingly refers to this episode as "a diversified program of New Age healing.”

In 1975, Rajneesh launched an extensive therapy programme at his new Poona ashram, and in collaboration with Western alternative therapists. This was a big business project. The Western entrepreneurs (associated with the Human Potential Movement) wanted a situation where they were free to experiment with forms of lucrative therapy considered dangerous by medical authorities in the West. Rajneesh had by now incorporated production industries in his overall business activity. Intellectuality was zero-rated as an encumbrance.
 
Feminists of that period were susceptible recruits via the “merchandising of orgasm,” a phrase employed in some sources to describe the nature of events. Rape victims in therapy sessions were easily overlooked. “Four letter words were much in vogue, and one type of neo-Reichian therapy he [Rajneesh] patronised involved an incitement to this form of diction, accompanied by nudity and violent expression” (Shepherd, 2004, p. 60). Of course, Rajneesh claimed to be an exemplar of non-violence. His rivals like Mahatma Gandhi were supposedly savages in their self-restraint.
 
Even Richard Price, the gullible Esalen co-founder, found that Rajneesh “therapy” was extremely dangerous. “He discovered that the Rajneesh version of the encounter group encouraged clients to be very violent, to the extent that old women were hit in the face by young men. Price himself is said to have suffered a broken arm while being locked up for an hour in a room with eight people armed with wooden weapons.... Price reported seeing eighteen fights in the therapy sessions within only two days, and that was before he stopped counting them” (Shepherd, 2004, pp. 60-1).

Rajneesh creating emotional arousal at the Poona ashram

Rajneesh taught that sexuality and aggression were primary emotions to be released in his workshops. The recruits became addicted to those emotions and other forms of arousal. The guru encouraged swooning and sobbing amongst his female devotees. “The Rajneesh cult advertised the ‘bliss’ said to be found in their therapies and dynamic meditations; yet they frequently administered pills, injections, and tranquillisers to those who became unmanageable” (ibid., p. 61). The local hospital in Poona was accustomed to Rajneeshi victims.
 
Despite all the “therapy,” Rajneesh himself developed allergies and suffered asthma attacks. So-called Dynamic Meditation could not prevent the need for medical attention. He suffered from diabetes, eczema, and severe back pain caused by a disc problem. Calder reports that Rajneesh was “constantly sick and frail from the time I first met him in 1970.” The guru's health had already been impaired during the 1960s, and the cause is here specified in terms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Calder, Lost Truth).
 
The Poona ashram of Rajneesh was an insult to traditional Hindu ideals of discipline and self-control. A favoured activity was group sex. The prevalent licentious habits caused sexually transmitted diseases. Over eighty per cent of the commune residents are reported to have contracted this form of disease by the 1980s.
 
A stimulus to disease came in the form of lewd jokes frequently expressed by Rajneesh. Rapist episodes were considered very funny, and the audience were expected to laugh. Many jokes of this kind appeared in the discourse books of Rajneesh, which supposedly proved his knowledge and ability in traditions like Hinduism, Sufism, Zen, and Taoism. The reaction of critics was to deem his sordid mentality an index to debauchery and indulgence.
 
The excessive emphases upon non-restraint passed to the children of commune members. Sexual intercourse amongst children was reported, and there were instances like that of a six year old girl who offered her abilities in oral sex to adult males (Franklin, 1992, p. 108). The account of neo-sannyasin Jane Stork reports that her children were sexually abused while she lived at the commune (she became a resident from 1978 until 1985; see Stork, Breaking the Spell, 2009).

This was an ongoing situation in which adult males could copulate with girls only ten years old. The permissive Rajneesh often declared that the family was a repressive factor, and accordingly had to go. His tendency to break up families assisted the commune focus upon himself as the dominant priority.
“Rajneesh invented [at Poona] a programme of ‘dehypnotherapy’ intended to free his followers of all prior constraints of their native culture, a process which involved acute exposure to his relativistic philosophy which endorsed opposites as being simultaneously true” (Shepherd, 2004, p. 61).
One of the influences upon Rajneesh was the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose fictional work Thus Spake Zarathustra was popular amongst his Western followers. The Nietzschean idea of the “superman,” ascending by his selfish will to power, was surely demonstrated by Rajneesh.
“Some of his extant discourses exhibit a preoccupation with the philosophy of Nietzsche and the sexual liberation expressed by D. H. Lawrence, with a fashionable assimilation of Gurdjieff and humanistic psychology also in evidence. This hybrid fare reflected his opportunistic policy of tailoring teachings to market demands” (Shepherd, 2004, p. 62).
A German camera crew filmed the violence and nudity of the late 1970s Rajneesh encounter groups. The footage was preserved in the documentary film Ashram (1980). This movie confirmed the reports of “therapy” excess. In 1979, because of Indian disapproval, Rajneesh curtailed some of the excesses, including fighting.

That cosmetic gesture did not affect the ashram income. Circa 1980 the Poona ashram was host to about fifty-five therapy groups, each with about forty participants who paid at least a hundred dollars per head. There was a greater influx of visitors at the time of major events. About 30,000 visitors per year were involved, and a few thousand residents.  Rajneesh sometimes used the word Tantra to describe all this activity. The subject of Tantra does not accurately come under the umbrella of therapy.
 
The guru became well known for his advocacy of Tantra. Ex-devotee Calder says that in a lecture, Rajneesh defended the “Tantric practice of parents having sex with their own children.” More to the point, the guru “used the myths of Tantra to rationalise all of his dishonest and illegal behaviour, as well as his own exorbitant drug use” (Calder, Ridiculous Teachings). Rajneesh used the well known phrase “lefthanded Tantra,” which can elsewhere signify deviation, though today the distinction is lost in the craze for sex tantra. At Poona, “one of the groups Rajneesh sold to students was the ‘Tantra’ group, which was basically just male and female disciples having sex with each other” (Calder, Lost Truth).

The more recent “tantric workshop” advocate Margot Anand has claimed an affiliation with Rajneesh; she is said to have visited the Poona ashram and there learned/taught Tantra, before moving on to America. The popular sex tantra became evident in her books like Sexual Ecstasy: The Art of Orgasm (2000). This trend has received some criticism, including an extension at the Findhorn Foundation
 
A large number of female Rajneeshis are reported to have become prostitutes, influenced by the prevalent commune license. These neo-sannyasins opted for a role as strippers in places like Soho and San Francisco (Strelley, 1987, p. 140, and cited by Conway, Rajneesh biography). This activity was evidently regarded by the guru as a source of funding for Tantra.
 
Many of the “sannyasins” were drug-users, and several were arrested while attempting to smuggle drugs into Europe (McCormack, 2010, p. 11). MDMA and cannabis were favoured commodities. Rajneesh is reported to have expressed approval of his “sannyasins” financing their Indian sojourns via drug dealing and prostitution. All the time, he benefited from the donations of his followers. The ongoing traffic in drugs was attended by overpowering justifications. A Rajneeshi arrested for drug smuggling asserted that:
“The disciples of God [Rajneesh] cannot be made to submit to any of the laws established for ordinary human beings. To attain our goal, everything is permitted” (McCormack, 2010, back cover).
Rajneesh secretly departed from Poona in June 1981, en route to America. He was evading payment of income tax equivalent to four million dollars, not being eligible for charity status. Further, one commentator describes how an informant divulged that a warrant for the guru’s arrest was imminent, on the basis of incitement to religious rioting (Milne, 1986, pp. 182-3, 187ff.). The expansionist plans of Rajneesh in Poona, together with his controversial agenda, had aroused local resentment amongst Hindus. The pretext for his departure from Poona was a need for emergency medical treatment, a factor denied by close analysts.
 
A bibliography will be included in Part 2 of this article.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 57
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Gerald Joe Moreno

Gerald Joe Moreno

I recently commenced a new blog entitled Kevin R. D. Shepherd Not Exposed. This ongoing feature is a repudiation of the stigma expressed by Gerald Joe Moreno, an American internet apologist for Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011) during the period 2004-2010. His militant strategy encompassed many victims, over a hundred according to one informed estimate. I was unusual for being an outsider to the Sathya Sai Baba movement, and not an ex-devotee like most other victims.
 
Some weeks after commencing the new blog, I was informed by ex-devotee Brian Steel that Moreno had been reported dead. I was incredulous when receiving the news that Moreno had been stated by a relative to have suffered expiry in early July 2010. The recipient of this information was ex-devotee Barry Pittard.
 
The report of decease has apparently been accepted as true by some ex-devotees, who nevertheless did not advertise the matter, and hence my ignorance of it. The reason for decease had not been divulged by the relative. Moreno was only forty years of age, insofar as I am aware.
 
I expressed my view (in private) that confirmation was necessary before acceptance of the report that Moreno was dead. A suggestion was made that the report might have amounted to a hoax. However, Brian Steel reasoned that the reported date of decease closely tallied with the fact that Moreno’s last known web activity occurred in June 2010.
 
I mentioned the opinion existing amongst some people in Britain that Moreno may have stopped his output because his funding had ceased. He was for years strongly rumoured to be in receipt of financial assistance from a wealthy American devotee, probably Dr. Michael Goldstein, international leader of the Sathya Sai Organisation. This detail is also unconfirmed.
 
The prolific web output of Gerald Joe Moreno is still much in evidence on Google, thus giving the impression that he is alive. One suggestion has been that Moreno websites were paid up long in advance. Google blogs are free. A deceased blogger can still appear to be alive.
 
Even if Moreno were to be confirmed as dead, this still leaves the problem of readily visible web materials which agitate against numerous victims, including myself. Victims have the option of denying unjust accusations, and explaining the context of Pro-Sai attacks. To this effect, I will continue the relevant blog Not Exposed.
 
I will add here some remarks upon the contents so far of Kevin RD Shepherd Not Exposed. In the opening entry, I stressed the identity of Moreno as Equalizer, perhaps the most pervasive of his blogger pseudonyms. Under that name, he duplicated on a blogspot feature libellous and misleading materials from his activist website saisathyasai. That attack site is notorious for defamation.  Moreno called his new blogspot copy feature kevin-shepherd-exposed, and this included diverse misrepresentations and slanders.
 
In general, the Moreno strategy was vehement, repudiating all criticism of Sathya Sai Baba, and treating any critic as a virtual criminal. His targets ranged from the Indian critic Basava Premanand to the British journalist Paul Lewis. Allegations and testimonies of sexual abuse were adamantly denied. When Moreno’s own policy was criticised, he reacted even more strongly.
 
The Moreno attack strategy can scarcely be comprehended unless his influence via Wikipedia is taken into account. Under the pseudonym of SSS108, in 2006 he launched an editorial campaign against ex-devotees, principally Robert Priddy  of Norway. Many observers could not understand what was happening. Nevertheless, the activist editing of SSS108 came under internal critical scrutiny, and this editor (Moreno) was banned indefinitely from Wikipedia in March 2007.
 
The contradictory fact is that Moreno (alias SSS108, Equalizer) exercised an enduringly strong influence upon Wikipedia editors, mainly those who did not trouble to check out the background. Of course, the pseudonymous nature of many Moreno attacks was resistant to general analysis. Informed observers were familiar with missing details, but sometimes they were repudiated as being in error.
 
The present writer was never a Wikipedia editor. As a non-participant, I had the unfortunate experience of being dismissed on a Wikipedia User page by SSS108. That document of 2006 was assisted by Jossi Fresco, who became notorious for his advocacy of “guru cults.” A Wikipedia article on myself was subsequently deleted in 2009, the deletion page commencing with scandalous links to defamatory Moreno blogs. Not until 2012 did Jimmy Wales (the Wikipedia manager) intervene in the widespread confusion by deleting the influential SSS108 User page from Wikipedia files. Much damage had been done in my direction by that time.
 
Moreno gained the reputation of an internet terrorist and cyberstalker, being associated with various extremist activities. He multiplied his attack entries against opponents, and furthered obsessive emphases which often sounded crazy to impartial analysts. One of his notorious web documents was the so-called Introduction to Kevin RD Shepherd, which I repudiated as being extremely misleading.
 
Another blind alley adventure of Moreno was his adverse reflection upon two Wikipedia editors who transpired to be academics with university roles. These entities had supported me, and so he ridiculed them as being irrelevant. Under their disguising pseudonyms, the academics Simon Kidd and Dr. M. E. Dean were subsequently inverted in Wikipedia lore as ignominious and rascal “sockpuppets” for myself. The truth places superficial assessment in permanent jeopardy. Serious citations are not comical.
 
Moreno also exercised his ingenuity in denying validity to the BBC documentary entitled The Secret Swami (2004). This programme caused a stir at large, providing an insight into the controversy that had developed between ex-devotees and Sathya Sai supporters. Moreno failed to annul the implications, although he did his best to provide a counter-version of events.
 
In June 2010, Gerald Joe Moreno adopted another extremist tactic when he cast aspersions upon a university academic, namely Professor Tulasi Srinivas. At the same time, he ridiculed many other victims. Moreno felt that Professor Srinivas had ignored his own contributions. He failed to take into account that libellous and distorting personal attacks are not the best form of recommendation.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 56
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Frank Visser in Transition

Frank Visser

A decade ago, the Dutch writer Frank Visser  figured as the major partisan exegete of Ken Wilber. His book Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (2003) was published by the State University of New York Press. Visser was here described as “an internet specialist who studied the psychology of religion at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.”

The publisher classified Visser’s book in terms of: “the definitive guide to the life and work of Ken Wilber, widely regarded as the most comprehensive and passionate philosopher of our times.”

Visser’s contribution was strongly in support of Wilber. At the end of nearly 300 pages, Visser offers a chapter entitled “Ken Wilber in Perspective.” This covers science, psychology, and religion. Visser states that “Wilber counts as the leading theorist” in transpersonal psychology (page 267). This version of psychology “first emerged as an academic discipline at the end of the sixties” (ibid.). Yet Wilber himself was not an academic.

Visser dwells on the differences between Wilber and C. G. Jung. “Wilber is of the opinion that Jung has prompted an extremely regressive movement in psychology” (page 265). A basic contention here is that the Jungian stress upon the “collective” is a mistaken denominator for too many contrasting ingredients, including the spiritual, the prerational, and the regressive. One aspect of this drawback is seen by Visser in “writers inspired by Jung who interpret the wild or primitive aspect of our nature as spirituality” (ibid.).

A well known opponent of Wilber was Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist who had innovated the term transpersonal, and who was influential in the movement associated with that word. Grof gained a repute for therapy practices and the use of mind-altering drugs, including LSD. His perinatal theory has met with strong reservations in some directions. Grof believed that he had a valid theory based on clinical evidence, which he thought was lacking in Wilber. “In many respects Wilber and Grof stand at opposite ends of the spectrum” (page 270).


Ken Wilber

Visser expressed enthusiasm for the “perennial philosophy” aspect of Wilber’s conceptualism. The former tended to define this factor in terms of: “Each world religion has its own esoteric or mystical core, and, in addition to this, there are also schools of thought developed by individual philosophers who have attempted to formulate this esoteric core in a way that makes it more comprehensible” (page 276). According to Visser, “the esoteric aspects of Wilber’s model are based largely on the philosophy of Shri Aurobindo,” while “Wilber has also borrowed ideas from contemporary mystics, such as Adi Da Samraj” (page 276).

Some of the critics felt that this borrowing was getting into dangerous territory. The American guru Adi Da Samraj (d. 2008) had gained the reputation of an antinomian who was acutely unreliable in his behaviour.

Moving into less controversial topics, Visser stated that the “perennialists or traditionalists” included Ananda Coomaraswamy, Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, and Huston Smith. The first three names are landmarks in the traditional version of perennialism, although Smith was a strong influence on Wilber. Visser made a point that “Wilber has explored contemporary philosophy to a far greater extent than most of the traditionalists, who often abhor modern society” (page 276).

The commentator went on to compare the Theosophical tradition with Wilber themes. “Theosophy might be described as an early nineteenth century, Western attempt to reformulate the perennial philosophy in more contemporary language” (page 277). Visser here finds an affinity “with the Western neoplatonic tradition partly expounded by Plotinus  who is highly admired by Wilber” (ibid.).

Views about Theosophy can  differ markedly.  Wilber’s version of Plotinus has met with disagreement. Visser moves on to discuss a Western Vedanta, here employing a phrase used by Wilber (though the latter is also strongly associated with Mahayana Buddhism). Visser refers to the Dutch “philosopher and theosophist” Johannes J. Poortman (d. 1970), a former professor of metaphysics at Leiden University, who “often described his system as a Western form of Vedanta” (page 282).

The information is supplied that Poortman, similar to Wilber, “was extremely sceptical about the kind of holism that is based on quantum physics, which seeks to suggest that modern physics had stumbled across the deepest Mystery” (page 283).

Visser asserts that “Plotinus, Poortman, and Wilber are all mystical philosophers who have a great deal of faith in the capacity of the intellect and who therefore attach a great deal of value to any form of scientific research. For this reason they oppose any movements which denounce rationalism under the guise of spirituality and seek salvation in the romanticism of holism” (page 284).

This perspective was later seen to have complications. Visser subsequently became a critic of Wilber, abandoning his partisan stance. The element of scientific research in Wilber’s output here became minimal. Although Ken Wilber did advocate a rational stance (and denied materialism), Frank Visser arrived at the conclusion that this form of rationalism was limited. The question now also arises: what exactly is a mystical philosopher?

Visser’s tangent from Wilber emerged soon after the publication of his book (translated from Dutch). Rarely does any author transit so strongly and speedily from formerly held assessments. Visser became well known for his new attitude that Wilber’s version of “integralism” was a minefield rather than a solution to all problems.

A major drawback was that Ken Wilber tended to present his theories as all-embracing and comprehensive. He referred to his doctrines as AQAL, an abbreviation for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types” (page xiii, foreword by Wilber). Quadrant theory could easily be accused of assuming a stance of quasi-omniscience.

The dissenting Frank Visser has maintained a website featuring criticism of Ken Wilber. This site is called Integral World.  So Visser has remained an integralist, but not a copyist of Wilber. There are different forms of integralism, including authors other than Visser and Wilber. A complexity is that certain authors do not call themselves integralists. Which is the most accurate and comprehensive form of “integralism”? This could easily become a major issue.

Observers noticed a commotion in the integralist camp which occurred at blog level. In 2006, Wilber attacked Visser and other critics in a blog featuring aspersive language deemed vulgar by some assessors. Wilber here also referred to himself in terms of the lawman who was resisting the outlaws. See Visser, The Wild West Wilber Report.

A decisive schism was in process. The dissenters and critics would not accept the blog bludgeoning and caricature.  Visser hosted other critical writers (e.g., Jeff Meyerhoff) at his website. To be more precise, the growing number of contributors at Integral World included Wilber critics, Wilber supporters, and yet other categories.

Perhaps in response to some of the criticism, Wilber wrote a new book called Integral Spirituality (2006). Visser described this as “disappointing, both in style and content.” However, he did concede that Wilber had changed format. See the Visser review. The American writer claimed a relevant  assessment of modernity and postmodernity, and also an ongoing knowledge of religious traditions. This new AQAL presentation amounted to “integral post-metaphysics.”

The founding of the Integral Institute by Ken Wilber was a focus for critical attention from Visser and others. The partisan description of a “visionary think-tank” was countered by allegations such as workshop entrepreneurialism and allegiance with controversial figures like the neo-advaita guru Andrew Cohen.

Visser composed numerous web articles demonstrating his critical attitude to the man he had formerly promoted. It is difficult to find any trace of his former “theosophical” inclination. “I consider Ken Wilber’s view of evolutionary theory to be deeply flawed and disconnected from the scientific literature” (Spirit of Evolution Reconsidered).  Visser here stresses that “a detailed engagement with Darwinism is virtually absent from his [Wilber’s] writings.”

Visser mentions the second Integral Theory Conference of 2010 in San Francisco, an  event which attempted to modify the Wilber-centric approach. He also refers to the third Integral Theory Conference of 2013 at San Francisco, featuring a confrontation of the Wilber model “with two other luminaries in the wider integral field: philosopher Roy Bhaskar  and sociologist-philosopher Edgar Morin.”  These entities are described as professional philosophers who share the “same multidisciplinary spirit.” See Integral Theory.

The crux for integralism would appear to be the multidisciplinary orientation, something which is not fundamental to professional philosophy and nor restricted to contemporary paradigms of spirituality.

See further Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003); Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality (Boston: Integral Books, 2007); Jeff Meyerhoff, Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything (Inside the Curtain Press, 2010); Stanislav Grof, Psychology of the Future (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000); Shepherd, Pointed Observations (Dorchester: Citizen Initiative, 2005).

Kevin R.D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 55

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Against Vivisection


In a perfect society, the subject of animal ethics would not need to be urged. In the flawed reality of imperfection, the deficiency is so great as to be stunning.

A well known observation indicates that America and Japan are the two worst offenders in the field of laboratory animal abuse. The exploitive capitalism of America is reputedly the most extreme in this respect. “One animal dies in a laboratory in the USA every second, in Japan every two seconds, and in the UK every twelve seconds.” (LCA)  There are many other offending countries perpetuating bad  habits induced by predatory and commercial “science.” For instance, Air France is an airline annually transporting tens of thousands of primates for cruelty lab experiments.

The insistence that animal experiments furthered a knowledge of physiology was strong in the nineteenth century, and endorsed by the biology hero Charles Darwin. The National Anti-Vivisection Society was founded in London in 1875. Today, the laboratory crimes are far more intensive, and accompanied by arguments about the necessity for finding cures to diseases like cancer. Critics have developed counter-arguments, which reveal the horrors as being not merely unethical, but also unnecessary, profit-seeking, and criminal.

The worst case scenario of laboratory animals is comparable to that of a human invalid in a hospital bed who is mercilessly tortured by doctors in attendance.

Vivisection is a symptom of predatory “science” from America to China and Japan. Many millions of dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and other breeds are currently lab victims. Even horses, cows, sheep, pigs, fish, and birds suffer in the torture zone of laboratories. 

In a global sense, the laboratory exploitation of animals links with big business concerns and animal dealers who traffic in primates and other unfortunate creatures. The pharmaceutical industry is notorious for a vested interest in animal testing. Primitive commerce still uses animals to test many substances, including cosmetics and cleaning agents.

The products of commercial companies like Procter and Gamble should be avoided. Billionaire industries are not always admirable. Many brands deny animal testing on their part; however,   others  have been reluctant to change their habits. Asian laboratories are especially notorious; in some countries, there is no law controlling animal testing. Cosmetic experiments on live animals are a horror story.   In 2013, an EU ban on animal  cosmetic testing occurred, although certain problems are still in evidence.

The British public must develop far more caution about health charities that seek donations. The web has featured informed statements like: “Public donations are used by charities to fund experiments in which animals have cancers grown on their backs, have limbs broken, and are left crippled.” That is the case for survivors; most victims die in agony. Never donate to a charity unless you know exactly what they do behind the scenes. The word charity can represent an acute anomaly.

There are said to be  almost twice as many health  charities which do not fund animal experiments, as those which do.  Some of the largest health charities in the UK are notorious for conducting cruel  animal experiments. For instance,  Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation are controversial. The mandate of medical progress at the cost of animal suffering is one that can arouse strong opposition. The vivisection advocates act as though opposition to them is irresponsible, and guilty of delaying progress. Analysis of progress is not always inspiring. For instance, the Alzheimer’s Society funded repugnant brain injury experiments on mice at Edinburgh University. Critics say that such research is futile and a waste of funds. Yet in 2011, an Edinburgh researcher received from the same charity a grant of £335,000 to brain damage mice for a further three years. See Victims of Charity.

An emerging contention amongst critics of vivisection is that the differences between  human and animal species are so substantial that research relying upon animal data is very  largely, or completely, useless. The encumbrance serves to attract grant money from institutions not in effective contact with truly progressive science.

It is possible to find many thought-provoking statements in the critical literature. “For example, researchers have ‘proven’ in animals that cigarettes both do and do not cause cancer – depending on the funding source” (The Truth About Vivisection).

Testimony to the depraved nature of animal experiments is abundant. For instance, “to study the results of head trauma, primates were strapped into machinery to receive high-impact blows to the head. A video camera captured footage of vivisectionists taunting the injured animals, who were left with severe brain damage.” This situation reveals the barbarous state of “education” existing at the University of Pennsylvania during the 1980s. 

Today, there are  millions of suffering animals trapped in British laboratories, a situation permitted by gravely flawed protocol. The situation in America continues to be an adverse reflection upon the so-called greatest civilisation ever known. “Every year, tens of millions of animals are dissected, infected, injected, gassed, burned and blinded in hidden laboratories on college campuses and research facilities throughout the U.S." (The Truth About Vivisection)

A number of American universities have been fined for violating the Animal Welfare Act. In 2005, the University of California (San Francisco) was charged with 59 (or 75) violations of the Animal Welfare Act; these events occurred  in their  laboratories. Denying many of the charges,  the University of California paid a fine of over 90,000 dollars (Animal Ethics). Critics say they got off too lightly. 

In 2007, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)  reported over 17,000 nationwide violations of the Animal Welfare Act, affecting an estimated half a million animals. This statistic does not include innumerable  mice, rats, and birds, who are not even covered by the deficient laws. USDA were the agency responsible for the monitoring of laboratories. In 2010, USDA reported that over 97,000 animals endured laboratory-inflicted pain without the benefit of any pain-relieving drugs. Again, the vast numbers of abused mice, rats, and birds were not included in this revealing assessment.

America is a laboratory predator of staggering proportions. Billions of dollars have been annually employed to fund useless and sadistic animal experiments via the National Institutes of Health. The insensitivity of bureaucrats and vivisectors is testimony to the low level of current "civilisation." The acute deficiencies have led to chartings of the top ten most outrageous animal experiments, based on publications of 2012. The details are not flattering to "research" abilities.

As to the comparatively rare responsible research, this is something quite different to  animal experiments. The so-called "scientific revolution" is in the future, not in the past. The full potential of new technologies "can never be realised while dependence on animal models persists." The basic factor is that:
"Reliance on [abused] animals continues, not because it is effective, but due to inertia, lack of training, vested financial interests, and adherence to outdated traditions."
In Britain, public complaints prevented Cambridge University from building a massive primate testing centre. During the 1990s, the same university was revealed to be in collaboration with a biotechnology company. The controversial laboratories called Huntingdon Life Sciences favoured  the abomination known as xenotransplantation. This lunacy meant that hearts and kidneys from genetically engineered pigs were transplanted into the necks, abdomens and chests of monkeys and baboons.  Such laboratories are totally insensitive to the sufferings they cause, and waste funds in useless pursuits. The drawback  is a symptom of retrogressive commercial enterprise dressed up as mock-scientific panacea.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 54

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

David Lorimer and New World Values

David  Lorimer

Seven years ago, the present writer composed a letter of complaint to David Lorimer. The mailing list was extensive, and included over sixty members of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), led by Lorimer.  Yet only one of those recipients replied, and in a purely personal context. The key addressee, David Lorimer,  was notable for a total lack of response.

The contents of that letter included reference to various anomalies within organisations influenced by Lorimer, and also the Findhorn Foundation, closely linked to SMN membership and subscriptions. Discrepant behaviour of authority figures was a primary feature. Evasion was preferred by SMN recipients.

Lorimer is known for his activities as a writer and lecturer, including the book Radical Prince (2003), the subject here being the Prince of Wales. He is Programme Director for the SMN, and Vice-President of the closely associated Wrekin Trust, “a charity concerned with adult spiritual education” to use one of the media descriptions. Lorimer’s blog emphasises “vision and values for a new world view.” So what are the royalist connotations of “spiritual education” and “new world”?

Lorimer has expressed estimation for both Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen, two controversial new age celebrities promoted by the Findhorn Foundation. His arguments were not convincing. In 2004, Lorimer even stated: “I have been impressed by the level of debate between Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in What is Enlightenment?” This deference to a commercial magazine, the well known vehicle of Cohen, tends to confirm “new world” drawbacks in spiritual education. Elsewhere, Wilber and his “integral spirituality” are the subject of strong critical attention from former enthusiasts and other commentators. Cohen has gained a very unenviable reputation as an American guru of extremist tendency.

To provide an update here,  other  entities are favoured  in the SMN ratings. In 2011, Lorimer named “Jung, Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart” as being “far more meaningful” than the psychology syllabus in British universities. In particular, the explicit deference to Grof merits close attention.

In the same interview, Lorimer stated: “One of the assumptions I am making is that my mind is the Universal Mind.” Reminiscent of the Ken Wilber “Big Mind” lore promising enlightenment, this belief can cause acute confusion. We should be very careful before assuming that our very limited individual bundle of mental impressions has any relation to a “Universal Mind.” The neo-Advaita of Cohen is noted for the theme of cosmic identity, which is flippant to the point of absurdity in new age circles. 

The designation of Scientific and Medical Network is quite affirmative. This organisation is not calling themselves, e.g., the Alternative Scene for New Age Beliefs and Daring Theories. No, they are something far more reliable, far more ultimate, and indeed far more authoritarian. To the extent, indeed, that they can ignore complaint. They are too scientific to be criticised. That is the implication. They are too medical to be taken to task for supporting the holotropic and psychedelic beliefs of Grof. New world values mean, e.g., that hyperventilation (employed by Grof) is a deceptive avenue to cerebral hypoxia, denoting a decreased supply of oxygen to the brain (Stephen J. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation, 1996, pp. 45-6). The results are purely material, not spiritual, like the blatantly commercial motivations involved.

Holotropic Breathwork (HB) was a very lucrative exercise devised by Grof at the Esalen Institute in California, and also employed at the Findhorn Foundation for several years until official intervention occurred. In this “new age workshop” sphere, everything is done for money. Grof resorted to HB because his LSD psychotherapy faced legal problems in the 1970s reaction to the hallucinogenic drug. He also employed “MDMA therapy” until the mid-1980s, his method having been described as “drug-aided mind manipulation in order to create paranormal beliefs” (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, p. 126). Yet Grof chose to gloss problems as “spiritual emergencies.” Grof transpersonalism has enjoyed a big dollar turnover via Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.

In this suspect scenario of the new world elite, wealthy academics and promoters can profitably ignore complaints. Entrepreneurs thrive on the absence of criticism, which is banished from the convenience of commerce and pseudo-meaning. On the basis of LSD experiences and holotropic sessions, Grof has devised a "cartography of the psyche," which critics reject as spurious (cf. Grof, Psychology of the Future, 2000, pp. 20ff.).

Alternative therapy has been big business for several decades at places like Esalen and the Findhorn Foundation. I have related how a 1990s unfortunate lost his wife in this popular quicksand, and after she had suffered most of the following drawbacks created by group sessions of “therapy”: nervous breakdown, suicidal tendencies, severe headaches, involuntary muscle spasms, memory failure, and lack of decision making ability. Yet therapy deceptions have gained the status of “a unifying shift in our worldview,” to quote one of the ubiquitous celebrations on the new age media.

In the direction of drug use, the exhortations are widespread on the internet, and some channels are strongly associated with the Grof bandwagon. Even at relatively low volume pitch on email responses to journalism, one can find strident web voices urging that humanity has been taking drugs for thousands of years, and the police are therefore an obstruction to presumed benefits. More realistically, there are devastated LSD victims in wheelchairs, while the recent craze for ketamine  has involved extreme bladder problems and stomach operations for young victims.  The new age now features teen sufferers with incontinence. Also in evidence are daily “recreational” users of skunk cannabis who favour the popular “shift in worldview.” They are unable to stop their drug habit, which can prove deadly, being only a step away from cocaine and heroin.

The main subject of the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer was a former member of the SMN, whose situation (as a relative of mine) I was closely familiar with. Jean Shepherd (Kate Thomas) suffered discrimination because she was a critic of drug use.  David Lorimer’s close colleague, the Findhorn Foundation Trustee Janice Dolley, was here the agent of cordon. The victim expressed the realistic view  that drug experiences are counterfeit, comprising a delusion of “spirituality” for the partisans, and a misleading cue to addiction for the clientele. Yet the critic was downgraded by the SMN in favour of Grof’s academic disciple Christopher Bache, an exponent of psychedelic neoshamanism. 

The Bache encounter with LSD involved a major problem: “I interrupted my work [for seven years] because the extreme nature of the states I was entering became too stressful for my family to endure” (Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn, SUNY Press 2000, p. 311 note 10). Anomalously, the academic drug advocates deny causing any problem, talking of their “moderate” usage as distinct from street excesses. Yet the pro-cannabis refrains of Tart, and the LSD lore of Grof and Bache, have been very influential, permeating counterculture with false concepts, thereby assisting drug-pushers on the street.

The academic drug advocates are viewed by citizen philosophy as “shallow mystics who invent a form of specious logic that misleads thousands and millions of people deceived by prestigious credentials” (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, p. 50).

In the strongly contested new age, Scientific and Medical now signifies evasion, commercial “workshops,” Jung lore, and psychedelic theory. The “new world” orientation leads to a blind alley of “channelling” delusion, hallucination, visits to real medics for assistance in survival, aversion to criticism  in the interests of income and economic expansion, and  a  neglect of ethical considerations.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 53

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 4 February 2013

Findhorn Foundation Discrepancies

A book by Eileen Caddy

My Citizen Initiative website, launched in 2007, was at first greeted with disbelief by those accustomed to deceptive promotionalism of the Findhorn Foundation. After a while, some parties grasped that I was telling the truth. Evasion and exploitive commerce are involved in the project at issue. The "workshops" at this venue are notorious for the high prices charged.

Recent law court actions in Scotland are of interest. A complication was created for the Findhorn Foundation by an immigration officer acting for the Secretary of State. The "accredited education" advertised by the Foundation was mentioned, though a great deal  of what is taught there has no accredited basis. The legal procedure  provided a support for the defending party, mentioning (amongst other matters) that "the Scottish Charities Register shows that the Findhorn Foundation is a charitable trust" having objectives such as "the promotion of human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation." The theme of conflict resolution is elsewhere known to be a farce in the case of dissidents. The petitioners favoured the theme of  a Findhorn Foundation economic impact. 
 
The theme of an economic   impact  is controversial, and  also associated with the tourist income insistence favoured by Moray Council, who are money-oriented, with no interest in ethics.  Bureaucratic laxity is widespread, and the law can no longer be relied upon. Only money talks in a decadent society

BBC News still maintains inadequate coverage of the Findhorn Foundation, without reference to ongoing controversies.  The deficiency is habitual. Twenty years ago, I was living at the same building in Forres (Moray) where a BBC television camera team snubbed a major local critic of the Foundation, their attitude being completely partisan to the Foundation, with no cognisance of any facts involved. The camera team provoked a reaction from their intended subject, who refused to be filmed. I knew that this development would be welcome to the Foundation, whose insidious propaganda had influenced the BBC team. I now confronted the impudent leader of the camera crew, who had derisively said to the critic: "It is just your view against theirs." This gesture strongly implied that the Foundation could not be wrong in any way. The BBC spokesman proved evasive when confronted. 

I was then obliged to telephone the BBC management in London, to find my worst fears confirmed about the total irresponsibility of BBC officials.  At first, the official I spoke with groaned and said "Oh no!" Afterwards he became evasive, and would not acknowledge any error of deportment. The image of the Findhorn Foundation was thus preserved as being one of perfect charity. A due apology was overlooked. It is no surprise to me that Sir Jimmy Savile  fooled the BBC excusers for so many years. The paedophile could do anything he wanted, because the BBC media protected him as a praiseworthy exemplar of charity.

A relevant fact neglected by the BBC television fiasco was that the local critic (Kate Thomas) had been ostracised by dictatorial Findhorn Foundation officials. One of these oppressors was an American bisexual with near schizophrenic moods of aggression and amity. Another was a dogmatic and persecuting German partisan of alternative therapy who declared that God had given him the custodianship of Cluny Hill College (now the Findhorn Foundation College), which was a centre for new age therapy, channelling, and shamanism. The extreme behaviour, including harassment, did not accord with the glowing publicity instigated by such personnel.

Commercial promotion of Stanislav Grof's danger therapy known as Holotropic Breathwork (hyperventilation) was another problem in the "spiritual education" package at the Findhorn Foundation. Dissenters from therapy were blacklisted; the promoters were glorified. Thomas strongly resisted Holotropic Breathwork, as did medical doctors, and this meant that she had to be suppressed by the management.  The BBC failure to negotiate anti-medical bias occurred in 1992, a year before the medical verdict from Edinburgh University emerged. The Foundation management was reluctant to comply with the warnings, and never did acknowledge that Thomas had been right, instead opting for a continual hostility towards her.

A decade later, Thomas  was cordoned by a Findhorn Foundation Trustee (Janice Dolley), and because of her resistance to drug use and related matters. Standing for principle in the new age is a dead-end, as this instance confirms. Scruple is very unpopular, in view of widespread indulgences.

BBC Radio is another defective organ of the media, to date neglecting any due response to a quite lengthy complaint made in 2006 concerning a Findhorn Foundation “workshop” entrepreneur, who was hosted on BBC Radio as an authority in “holistic” matters. BBC Radio made no mention of the fact that William Bloom had promoted in London the lunatic exercise in hyperventilation devised by Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. The commercial therapist promoted this dubious activity despite the medical warnings which had occurred in Scotland, causing the Findhorn Foundation to desist from promoting the dangerous practice of Holotropic Breathwork, mistakenly advertised as a therapy. See further Letter to BBC Radio

To update here, Bloom has stated in contemporary idiom, that he is "pissed off with the BBC." Perhaps that organisation are suitably impressed by holistic gestures.

Meanwhile, the continuing evasion of Findhorn Foundation staff and supporters has been evident in such matters as online book reviews. One of these deceptive items (in 2011) was composed by a person who stated that he lived in the neighbourhood of the Findhorn Foundation. This semi-literate troll asserted that Kate Thomas had made a “brief stay” at the Foundation, and strongly implied that she wished to be accepted there as the “leader.” She was here accused of an "ego trip." In reality, the dissident stayed in the near vicinity for ten years (as is quite well known), and never wished to become the Foundation leader, but only to be given a fair hearing in the face of suppression, and eventually illness. See Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation.  I happen to know because the misrepresented person is my mother, and I myself lived in Forres at the period under discussion. Findhorn Foundation gossip, like their promotionalism, is very unreliable.

Love drips like blood from the hate campaign daggers of trolls and their mentors. The distortions achieved by the "spiritual community" are neither convincing nor exemplary. Trolls ignored a recent complaint made via solicitors; the response to this complaint by the Findhorn Foundation management did not show refinement.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 52

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Pete Townshend


The recent autobiography of Pete Townshend (born 1945) is entitled Who I Am, and has aroused diverse assessments, including my own contribution.  He was guitarist and songwriter for The Who, and also became known for a religious affiliation to the Eastern mystic Meher Baba (1894-1969). A very obvious discrepancy is that the religious sympathies did not mix too well with the career of a rock star, in this instance featuring a long term alcohol  problem and a susceptibility to hard drugs during the years 1980-81.
 
The British rock group known as The Who emerged in the mid-1960s, and eventually became superstars in America. They became icons of the Woodstock Festival at Bethel in 1969, an entrepreneurial event celebrated in a well known film. Ironically, Pete Townshend did not approve of the hippy venue, which he described as a mudbath laced with LSD. The previous year, he had declared himself to be a follower of Meher Baba, who was strongly opposed to LSD and other drugs. Townshend ceased his intake of marijuana (cannabis), and did not revert to LSD.

The stage performance of Townshend was noted for athletic leaps and the smashing of guitars. The “destruction art” was derived from his attendance at Ealing Art College and the questionable ideas of lecturer Gustav Metzger, who did however, disagree with Pete Townshend over the issue of a new commercial promotion. Townshend writes: “I was supposed to boycott the new commercial pop form itself” (Who I Am, p. 115). He also admits that “at a psychic level the Angry Yobbo, or hooligan, had seared himself into my soul” (p. 194). 
 
In 1970, by his own account, he began to experience “regular manic-depressive episodes” (p. 210). His very questionable remedy for this setback was to drink alcohol. To such an extent, indeed, that he cultivated a habit of drinking brandy while performing on stage. His situation was surely not assisted by the activities of his fellow performers Keith Moon  and John Entwistle, both of whom were alcoholics who developed a partiality for cocaine. The ill-fated career of Moon ended in 1978, when  that drummer  overdosed with medication for his chronic alcoholism. 
 
Townshend was evidently upset by this development. “The incredibly charged emotions around Keith’s death made me lose all logic” (p. 309). He was suffering from impaired hearing, and had previously resolved not to tour again with The Who. Yet now he favoured a replacement drummer, and was keen to undertake concerts again in 1979. His alcoholism became evident, and in 1980 his resistance failed when he was offered cocaine. A drastic two years of addiction followed, and eventually included a resort to heroin. 
 
The effect on Townshend was catastrophic. At one point he came close to death in a Chelsea hospital. His reckless disorientation included the well known incident where he jumped a fence into the bear pits at Berne, Switzerland. “I could have been eaten alive” (p. 330). There were other dangers also. Medical doctors knew that he had to break the bad habit of night club attendance, the root of his troubles. He was told to take up physical exercise instead, or invite certain  death; he wobbled badly, and eventually had to seek help in California. A month of neuroelectric therapy switched off the addiction, but anxiety attacks and psychological unravelling entailed five years of psychotherapy during the early 1980s. 
 
The subject continued his musical career and became an editor at the London publishing house of Faber. These events are well known, but rather more obscure is the phase of Meher Baba Oceanic. This centre was established by Pete Townshend at Twickenham in 1976, and featured  facilities for  filming and recording. Something went wrong, and the project changed name to Oceanic, becoming a purely private enterprise relating to Townshend’s musical career. Different explanations were given by onlookers at the time. Some Meher Baba devotees implied that Townshend had lost interest in Meher Baba as a result of his drug and alcohol excesses. This is contradicted by his own subsequent statements, which strongly indicate a continuing allegiance to Meher Baba. 
 
The available data suggests that Townshend was basically confused in his project of Meher Baba Oceanic. This conclusion is inescapable when reading a report written by his close friend Richard Barnes: 
“He [Townshend] was constantly initiating new ideas and concepts, but in a few days or weeks his mind would have raced ahead to something new.... At first there were facilities for filming and editing, then it was video, then it was recording. Pete was like a rich kid with too many toys.... I was staggered at the stupidity of some of the people Pete had given key jobs. By mistake, the tape would be wiped off after a day’s recording session, or a video would be ruined because somebody forgot some vital function.... The incongruous combination of recording studio and Baba workshop under one roof was a typical, badly thought-out move by Pete. The whole place [Meher Baba Oceanic] seemed to be a reflection of his own confused state of mind at that time.” (Quoted in Geoffrey Giuliano, Behind Blue Eyes: A Life of Pete Townshend, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996, pp. 144-5) 
The most controversial event in the life of Pete Townshend occurred in 2003, when allegations surfaced on the media about his purported interest in child pornography on the internet. He denied these allegations, but some critics were persistent, including certain partisans of a rival guru to Meher Baba, who were eager to imply that Townshend’s conjectural role as a paedophile amounted to proof of Meher Baba being a deficient guide. Sectarian thinking often exhibits peculiarities. 
 
The autobiography of the subject supplies details that negate the allegations (pp. 482ff.). His home was surrounded by reporters and camera crews intent upon a celebrity scoop. Townshend was taken to a police station, but released on bail. Forensic examination of his computers could not find any evidence to incriminate him. These and other matters are mentioned in Who I Am, and the allegations may accordingly be set aside. 
 
Unless otherwise specified, all page references above are to Pete Townshend, Who I Am (London: HarperCollins, 2012). 

Kevin R. D. Shepherd 

ENTRY no. 51 

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.