I started writing to Abrahma Kumar:
If you can accept somewhat crude language of praise, I think quite a number of posters have been... er... kicking a$$. The way those women talked about their difficult situations, and the way people responded supportive in their own ways, I felt how grown up as a community! Successful in the _now_ in a way that BKs would promise it would be in the future, "when we all have become complete."
I would say that the spiritual beginnings of the group were mysterious, Brahma Baba was charismatic, inspiring to an extraordinary degree. Well intended, he accuses the saddhus of making a business of spirituality, whereas we are real family.
Now the BK teachers, whether faithful or cynical, end up managing the grooming of followers to provide resources. They are faithful and thorough in the details of their faith, yet all understand the basic formula for income.
Center Sisters, by being presented with financial limits, are selected for those who are financially creative, who can encourage others to donate in association with her relationship with them and the richness that her experience of faith, philosophical reflection, family belonging can bring to their lives.
India has a culture of gurus, who harvest their livelihood from the wallets of their patrons. Many in India experience direct value in encountering the persons of the BK teacher/organizers. Most do not surrender their power to the BKs. Some do. Young women joining the BKs today resemble women going to join the Catholic church. The vow of celibacy plus dowery, her dependence on the parishoners and on Madhuban.
The role of the impending catastrophe in the fundraising, is ah, fundamental. 'There won't be anyone to inherit your wealth,' says Baba.
And the purpose is the highest, saving the souls of others. So people wanting to do good with their money and their help to the projects of another presented as spiritual service, they might support the BKs. Others will feel more belonging (or entangled), becoming more deeply involved in the teaching and promoting of the BK work.
Since one side are the salesman/organizers, and on the other the providers, the inhabitants of opposite sides of the bhandara, which in many centers is traditionally found in the kitchen, and leads to conflicts (which Baba acknowledges in the Murlis) over money and authority, that are sure to arise when people share resources, and when a single person is appointed as the director of group activity, when a chain of command exists in which a higher authority may intervene personally, an authority that expects to be informed about such issues, an has full discretion to do anything or nothing.
Based on the philosophy of obedience to the higher members of the group as God's mouthpieces, "Baba will make it right even if the Sister's in charge make a mistake" devotee-students fully entrust their lives to the direction of others. This authority relation is found in military organizations, Baba even refers to the group as a 'spiritual military'. Corporations, too, have a culture of obedience. Schools also. Hospitals also. Through the group identity as the same pioneering family of Kalpa after Kalpa, through the ultimate family identity, the group supports the complete surrender of self identity to another. The bonding that makes this possible takes place through the medium of 'reading' the Murli sermons, of 'giving the course', of 'service' , by allowing oneself to 'receive Srimat', through exhibitions, cultural programs, gatherings of all kinds, which serve multiple social needs, as the churches in early Canada and the U.S., just to give New World example. Is the 'mind control' any more severe than the Catholic Church. BK.info authors were conflicted.
It is similar. Something about the code of behavior, the disciplines, the Maryadas, receving Shrimat. Brahma Baba also correctly intuited that there was a place for charismatic women spiritual teachers in the male-dominated culture.
In the early days the experiences were mysterious, they are still mysterious for new converts today. In the beginning people did leave their families. Family members felt threatened by the group's apparently kidnapping their children. After all strongest emotions of family protection are aroused when a family member changes loyalties. For a woman in many Islamic families to have sexual liaison or even 'inappropriateness' outside the family is cause for killing her.
Killing is the worst thing one can do, says Baba, with the exception that he says essentially that giving a hand job or a blow job is actually worse. That is true in the West, today, where one may imprisoned longer for giving a teenager a blow job than for murdering a person. One may be imprisoned longer for selling a joint than for murdering a person. This is clearly disproportionate, since hand jobs and blow jobs can be consensual, are biological, the pleasure/reward orientation is associated with a person, as well as with distension of erectile tissue, pressure, sliding, warmth and wetness.
You see the problem with making a sin of this is that every element of the pleasure is present in a mother-child or caregiver child relationship. And even arousal and fulfillment of a mother and nursing child involve all the same pathways.
There is surely inappropriate, traumatizing ways that one can be contacted sexually.
Yet the mistake of the BKs, in my opinion, and in my understanding of human biological and emotional character, is their suggestion there cannot be healthy sexuality. It is a stand that tends to limit the number of followers, since many people will not give up playing their God-given instruments for pleasuring themselves or mutually pleasuring others.
Those that do renounce direct sensory pleasuring (as per the Mind Control Video) also give up the making of decisions for themselves, teach themselves to disregard their own feelings. Dissociating oneself and then depending on another for cues on how to respond/behave leaves us uniquely vulnerable to injury. The first step in learning to dissociate oneself, is learning to put oneself into trance, through which one can disconnect from other wants and desires, switching them on an off. That is a state that is paradoxically vulnerable to being manipulated, ironically, at the same moment the person is decided they are becoming their own master by renouncing all of the 'customs and systems of the Kaliyugi world.'
Each student, as he or she learns to 'give the course', or 'give experiences' or emcee for a BK public service event, learns the art of drawing others toward a state they can share in the BK trance experiences of soul identity, and of bathing in the warm presence of God's love.
Growing in size has made the organization the victim of statistics. As groups get larger, there is always room for opportunists, manipulators, authoritarians, who are all equally qualified to share in the group's spiritual trance.
With such people taking charge, there is almost inevitably the neglect for Duty of Care, especially when displaced by the extremely high priority for service, which requires maintaining a code of silence about incidents that could sully the group's reputation. This is covered by the excuse of 'not giving waste thoughts to others'. While a potentially legitimate motive, this justification is readily hijacked by higher-ups. The inner circle privvy to the group's secrets, such as rewriting Brahma Baba's discourses or the group's financial activities, this elite will never spread bad news about the group, and will use their authority over their centers to cover up bad news: all students are trained to share only positivity.
We could see this was unhealthy when Dadi Janki and other Seniors responded fatalistically, wholly unmoved by news of suicide and other psychotic behavior among students who are not merely 'possessed by vices or evil spirits' (BK terminology) but actually in need of psychiatric help, possibly even medication, which might have the potential to be effective, calming the person sufficiently to be amenable to verbal communications, to eat and sleep normally.
A psychotic person can readily aggravate their unstable tendencies in response to extreme 'points of knowledge' which I have covered earlier, destruction, the depth of vice in the current world, the extreme of perfection to be expected in future. The priority of taking urgent actions in the present, as opposed to changing oneself subtely inside. 'Stay in the home and business and remember the Father' says Baba, yet the reality is that psychoticaly biased people attempt to fully escape their sorrowful world into a kind of blind suggestible obedience to a new family.
The teacher/organizers are either cynical or naive, but the fact is they support many of this unstable subgroup diverting their manic energy for institutional purposes. These are the people that are hurt. They can victimize their families by physically, financially, emotionally and/or intimately absenting themselves from those they have an obligation to support and love. In this instance, the BKs do a direct disservice. They should support the husband to be a good Father to his children _and_ loving to his wife. They should support the wife in being loving to her husband. The husband in being loving to his wife. Intimate relations involve trust and the ability to listen to and respect another person's feelings even when those feelings are different from your own. Compromise, risking. Respecting, negotiating, exploring even playing with boundaries between self and other. The BKs mostly chop off all such considerations with admonitions for 'soul-conscious vision.'
Instead of learning to love in the family, we were encouraged to learn the 8 powers and 16 celestial arts. These do not including cuddling children, or adults or lovers, or friends, or lovers-to-be or not-to-be.
We did not know that while only appearing to cut ourselves off from society, from the world, we succeeded in cutting off ourselves from others and from ourselves.
The problem with trance is its proclivity to dissociate the self, making the person suggestible.
The BKs are (by selection) shrewd about who they accept as part of the 'Divine family', especially among the upper ranks. Many lower-ranked BKs were disappointed (heartbroken, jealous, angry) to learn that they would never be part of the inner circle, despite their manic efforts to serve and support the group, despite sometimes near-Herculean achievements. Ability or accomplishment themselves are never sufficient to guarantee getting into an 'in group'. The only certain guarantee for that in our society is money. The BKs will certainly consider donations, it would create that soul's fortune, even one as sinful as Ajmil.
So what began spontaneously in the society around Dada Lehkraj, was eventually codified to the point that the group has survived more than two generations beyond its founding members. While its spiritual message and family ambiance satisfies many, the group's need to maintain a scandal-free public face, the untrained followers positioning themselves as teachers and counselors to others, the vulnerability of followers to manipulation with kindling effects on latent or manifest mental illness, these factors mean that the groups will continue to produce 'casualties', until such time as the group re-adjusts itself for its rising membership and the risks inherent in a larger organization. The alternative will be that BK casualties will increase in number and in publicity to the point that the group receives blame for untimely death of students, whether by suicide or apparent accident, blame for broken families, for precipitating psychotic behavior--possibly including murder--people's feelings can get that strong and psychosis provides the opportunity for such reactions to express in the most violent, dissociated ways.
We already hear that BK events now have beefy Brothers to bounce PBKs from their exhibition sites for attempting to ride on BK coattails or perhaps BK saris, re-interpreting BK pictures and knowledge to potential BK recruits, competing for members.
We know that violence is possible among humans, even those who are taught and believe that 'I am a peaceful soul.' So it would not be a surprise to see a killer among the BKs, realizing the ominous promise of the Mind Control Video, "I would do anything for You. I would even kill for You."
Even if (as I expect) BKs successfully distance themselves from such a person and their act (whether motivated by self or vice, or Shrimat) there can be no question that the group, as a consequence of its activities, brings a substantial portion of its new members into harms way by uprooting latent-psychotic members, interrupting their self-regulating habits and patterns in a way that makes them vulnerable to extreme episodes.
I know that I had such an episode my first trip to Madhuban, which I am sure that Eugene remembers. I wonder how many others have. That could be a poll, too. "Have you had a psychotic break or similar episode while living or as a result of living as a BK?"