Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ask a Brahmin: "Sex Gurus"? (Part 1)

WQ: Brahmin, as Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda's personal friend, what can you say about his recent sex scandal?

  • Of course, it's embarrassing. But there's nothing wrong with sex.
WQ: No, but there is something very wrong with hypocrisy.
  • Yes, the ancient Vedas do not have anything good to say about that.
WQ: Nithyananda would have been wiser to be like your hero Osho. Did Osho have sex with his devotees?
  • He never did such things.
WQ: There were allegations, no videotape, but there were allegations.

  • Nithyanand is young. This indiscretion is a great mistake. Does Buddhism believe in sex as a natural thing?
WQ: Buddhism is fine with sex. It makes a distinction between sex and sexual misconduct. Sex is appropriate for independent, consenting adults. If one is not dependent or under the protection of one's parents, relatives, guardians, religious community, a spouse, or the government, then sex is fine. But under no circumstance is sex fine for a Buddhist monk, nun, novice (a monastic in training), an 8-precept holder, or someone in a meditation retreat where one has vowed to abstain from it.
  • We don't know what Nithyanand has vowed.
WQ: We do. He represents himself as a celibate saddhu, advocating celibacy, accepting money and property donations from devotees who believe he is a godma, a self-realized guru. That would be great: Let him be like Shri Rajneesh (Osho) and teach sex, because then he wouldn't be a hypocrite. Could you tell him to come out of hiding and start teaching Tantra, spiritual sexuality, and shaktipat. But to be a hypocrite or a deceiver of many good people wanting an honest teacher...
  • Nithyanand would be wiser to teach like Osho and not be closeted. He has made a mistake.
WQ: He is being accused of more than the one indiscretion caught on video. He is allegedly taking Viagra, drinking, and wasting time watching TV in a luxurious room or hotel by Indian standards. What this is really about is a millionaire and his money.
  • We all need money. His followers understand.
WQ: Sure. Yet his handlers (and his foundations) are worried about losing their cash cow. Look how they circle the wagons and call their lawyers for advice. How can his temples in America stay open? Who would defend a scoundrel?
WQ: I've seen the video. Have you seen the video? The excuse that it's a conspiracy or something taken out of context... Brahmin, please!

  • It's embarrassing. But your yoga is good?
WQ: My yoga is fine. Buddhism has eight limbs in the Noble Eightfold Path leading to enlightenment. Yoga has eight limbs (ashtanga) to the Brahma world, to see God, to abide in the Brahma Viharas. This is the Brahminical teaching now.
  • Yes, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras or aphorisms say there are eight limbs in Raja Yoga.
WQ: One of those limbs is the Restraints (Yamas). A big restraint is brahmacarya (celibacy), literally "the way to Brahma." Nithyananda has clearly attained jhana (dhyana) and is, or was, close to the Brahma World. Why would he fall back?
  • He is only human. Why do you think he fell?
WQ: I'll tell you why. This is ancient, something the Buddha explained to the Brahmins of his day. Jhana, samadhi, Oneness -- none of these is "enlightenment." They merely suppress the defilements. They don't eradicate them. When they fade, all the base impulses -- lust, anger, self-delusion -- are still there.
  • And Buddhism has a better answer?
WQ: It has an answer if you want to reach nirvana, complete liberation. If you just want to be liberated from this world and go to heaven(s), it also an answer like so many traditions do. If you want to be born in celestial worlds (in space), follow the Five Precepts or Eight Precepts. But to be born in the Brahma Worlds, celibacy (brahmacarya) is a prerequisite. If at the time of death lust is completely suppressed and only a latent tendency, enter jhana and you will be born among the brahmas ("gods"). Simply having led a good life, if at the time of death one dies peacefully and unconfused, one is reborn as a deva ("shining one," light being). But living for money made by wrong livelihood (Vanijja Sutra) or as a monastic violating the precepts, that won't have a good result.
  • No one is perfect.
WQ: The Path teaches the way to perfection -- to temporarily purify oneself by right-concentration (samma-samadhi) then to develop liberating-insight (vipassana) based on that temporary purity. It sounds like Nithyananda got to the first step then started selling books and calling himself "enlightened." It's a problem as old as India.
  • Lord Buddha came from India. His parents were Hindus. He was a Hindu.
WQ: There was no "Hinduism." India had every kind of spirituality. Siddhartha (before the great awakening that made him the Buddha, the "Awakened One") was born into Vedic Brahmanism, the corrupted temple religion of priests promoting superstitious beliefs, elaborate rituals, and Catholic-style indulgences.
  • Maybe Nithyanand is following those priests.
[Laughter from everyone]

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